NY Boys Trackathlon Showdown

Mason Gatewood and Elijah Claiborne battled to the end of an epic 4x800 relay at States.

Now we get to the boys Trackathlon with just a dizzying amount of unexpected results, at least if you followed the girls' totals and thought that the guys would follow in exactly the same path. But the boys are a slightly different beast. They march out to the weight events as if they thought track and field should be called field and track. They have a few more horizontal jumpers with hops. They can even match up with the girls in a running event like the 800 meters and come out on top at the top. But yeah, in the end, it does come down to the distance runners that make both the boys and girls a distinct group in the national rankings.

And no, it's no slight of foot for the guys that the top scoring boy did not put up a total that would beat any of the top 5 girls. The girls feast on their supreme excellence against a more pumped up IAAF scoring system, while the guys are challenged by a highly unforgiving scale that rates the 7th best NY triple jumper on the same level as the the 750th best 800 meter runner. So yes, something needs to be done to adjust the ratings for high school athletes versus world class athletes who performed on who knows what.

The NY boys made news around the country though, so though they can't quite jack themselves up to the impossibly high level of the girls, they still did really well. Throw out the pole vault event that the NY girls are pushing to the limit and the guys are almost holding their own with the girls if you lump in the indoor weight throw event with the top ratings for the outdoor events. The guys also have far more depth than the girls, which is why we are adding another thirteen lucky athletes to the boys' competition to get them to 63.

Listed below is a breakdown of what the top score in each event outdoors generated for the boys and girls, with the indoor weight throw thrown in. The top mark for the boys 800 was actually done indoors but it is a conversion from 1000 meters and is just 5 points more than the outdoor 981 mark.

NY Top Marks Scoring Comparison by Event

The top guys scored better than the top girls in most of the weight and horizontal jumping events but lagged a bit this year in most of the running, hurdling, and vertical jump events. There is a lot of variability in the lead scorers in the NY table, a 429 difference between the boys' weight throw and javelin, and 516 gap between the 1500 and javelin for the girls. There is somewhat less variability among the top marks for the US leaders as shown in the table below There was one stupendous mark for the boys nationally, and that came indoors when Trey Knight of Ridgefield HS in Washington heaved the weight throw 83-0.25 feet at the UW Invite in February before falling back a month later to 82-11 at NBN. Those marks are near the world record distance at the senior level, and yes Knight was throwing a 25 lb. weight and not the 35 lb. weight that the seniors use, but the 1333 score he received is an indicator that the WT athletes have a very high ceiling.

US Top Marks Scoring Comparison by Event

Moving on from the general IAAF scoring standards for multi-event scoring, we go to how the Trackathlon Showdown is set up. The idea was to hold a trio of triathlon contests for T&F athletes by taking their three best scores in different events during first the indoor and then the outdoor seasons, and then tallying up the Big 3 marks for an overall winner with any event getting to count twice for the two season's marks in the Big 3.  I thought this task would be quick and fast, but for a lot of reasons it was slower than a weight guys' relay when they exchange shot puts rather than batons.

Repeating what we discussed for the Girls TS: first, the running distances stipulated in the IAAF tables are 100-200-400-800-1500-3000, with 60 substituted for 100 during the indoor season. Those distances work fine for the girls outdoors, but much less well for the girls indoor and the guys outdoor, and not at all for the guys indoor. So yes, there are a ton of conversions of times for the runners. If the contestants saw the TS data sheets, they would likely say, "I don't remember doing the 400 indoors, and I don't recall that time for me." Well of course not, but you did do either the 300 or 600, and your great times there earned you a nice score in the trackathlon.

Second, for the indoor season there is a lot of judgment calls about whether to assign a 300 time to the 200 or 400 slot, and it's the same issue for the 600 and 1000 times. I've used my judgment about whether an athlete is more of a sprinter or middle distance runner when selecting which event gets a conversion assigned to it. Since we're aiming for three scores for each season to get a triathlon best, we tried to be creative to help the sixty-three selected athletes fill out their score sheets. In essence though, the runners are being rated on a speed level they attained, not an actual time.

Jeremiah Willis was in flight mode as usual as he soared to victories in the long jump and triple jump at States on his home CNS pits.

Third, everything we measure is in feet and everything the IAAF uses is in meters. So Jeremiah Willis knows he went way beyond 7.39 feet in the long jump this year, but that's what his 24-3 foot LJ amounts to in metric. Conversions galore, but very straightforward.

Fourth, for distance runners, there is that issue of the split times for 1500 or 3000 taken while running the the mile and 2 mile races at NBN Indoor. Though purists will shudder, I did the only fair thing and threw the actual splits out and used the slightly better conversion times. Isaiah Claiborne for instance has a great split for the 1500 at NBN Indoor of 3:54.87 while running the mile, and it is cited as his best 1500 time during the winter season. But he moved up from 5th at the 1500 mark to take 4th with a big kick in the finish of the mile. The fair thing is to use a mile conversion that is two seconds faster and not act like Isaiah closed it down at the end of 1500 meters.

Elijah Claiborne, Greg Fusco, and Maazin Ahmed line up for a fantastic finish at indoor States 1600 with Ryan Tierney a step behind. Ahmed beat a diving Claiborne to the line as they both were given a 4:15.55 time.

Fifth, we have tried to pull in a diverse group of competitors for the Showdown. But some events like the horizontal jumps don't really get much of a score in relation to a decent sprint, so we have tried to make sure that all the T&F areas have some representatives at the expense maybe of including a few more distance runners. We added thirteen more contestants than the girls' total into the mix since there is a lot more depth in boys T&F. A lot of the weight guys were included after they started throwing their big scores around, and we needed to put a ton of them in so that they wouldn't be all hot and bothered at certain track officials next year.

Two of the thirteen throwers, James Cocca and Mark Przybocki, even ventured outside of the two indoor weight events so that they could compile an indoor triathlon score. Cocca's 20-foot long jump was impressive for a weight guy. Pole vaulters tend to stick just to the PV, but Joe Weaver and Charles Crispi put in some extracurricular event work so that we could get them a Big 3 score.

Finally, at 63rd out of 63 on the Big 3 list is the pentathlon champ John Poplawski, the representative for the jack-of-all-trades pent guys who do a bit of everything but don't specialize enough to run up any very big scores. What may be the most impressive thing about Poplawski though is that his six scores from his best marks for the indoor and outdoor triathlons come in six different events, a mark of his supreme versatility.

Walt Whitman's John Poplawski led the pentathlon warriors at States.

There were a number of top guys who didn't make it into the TS because they didn't have marks in three different events during the year. Two of the more prominent guys are Glenmour Osbourne of Ardsley who took 3rd in the 100 at outdoor States and Jake McPherson of Rush-Henrietta who took 2nd in the shot put and 5th in the discus at outdoor States. Also, be prepared for some really ugly family feuds in the TS because we have three sets of twins -- the Claiborne, Fusco, and Rizzo tandems -- who are battling it out at close quarters, so the food will be flying around the dinner table at home.

With XC season coming on, a special shout out to sprinters like Carlon Hosten and Christopher Borzor and shorter middle distance guys like Jaquil Baxter and Anthony Brodie who actually included cross country exploits in their recent or distant past.

Again, on to the Trackathlon Showdown for another passage through the glories of the last yesteryear. Thanks again to the Cheshire County Athletic Association in the UK for its indispensable Ultra MultiEvents Scoring app.

Trackathlon Showdown