Welcome back to MileSplit's Weekend Review.
This is a column by Cory from MileSplit. And it's basically operating under the mailbag formula, although no one has actually asked me a question yet. I mean, if you got 'em, send em my way. Cory.firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, I'm going to assume I got inside your head and answered all your questions telepathically. See below.
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It was only a matter of time before we saw the best of Katelyn Tuohy.
And sure enough, the Great American Cross Country Festival on Saturday in Cary, North Carolina, presented the ideal setting for the Queen of high school cross country to go off for the first time in 2019.
Ms. Tuohy was back to her old dominant self, running like a heat-seeking missile at the WakeMed XC Course, putting down a season best and a meet record time of 16:22.80, which, weird as this sounds, is only a US No. 2-based effort but the No. 4 all-time performance in the record books.
"It was good for my first race of the year," she said. "I haven't run a race in so long. I didn't go to nationals in the spring. My last race was states. I had to take four weeks off in the summer to fix up my knee a bit. I was learning how to push again, learning how to race again. I've been having some really good workouts. My long runs have been the fastest they've ever been. I'm feeling confident this year. Hopefully sub-16 will come."
She now owns the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 best efforts in cross country history for 5K.
The effort on Saturday gave her a speed rating of 161, which is good, but likely only a primer. As you all know, cross country is less about time and more about effort across variables. Wind. Rain. Heat. Hills. Mud. Narrowly dodging deer. All that good stuff.
Tuohy's probably not going to go faster for 5K, because everything ahead of her is either shorter (Manhattan -- watch out for another record here), not worth the effort (Region/State/Qualifying), or just flat-out hard (NXN).
Then again, you also read that quote, and this is Tuohy. So don't count her out of anything.
She will get stronger over the course of the season. And she will race smarter and better and mostly, as a veteran and a captain.
Last year alone she had five speed rated efforts over 170 and as a sophomore she had three more.
She's off and running. It's Tuohy Time.
Great. I'm kind of scared now. Anything else interesting in the girls ROC?
The individual race kind of fell how we expected it, more or less, with Science Hill's (TN) Jenna Hutchins finishing second in 17:04.60, John Champe's (VA) Bethany Graham third in 17:09.50 and Riverview's (FL) Alyssa Hendrix, Pine Crest's (FL) Tsion Yared and Pinecrest's (NC) Carmen Alder all following.
If we had to make note of one effort, it was the Furman University commit Graham. This was her best performance against a top-rated field. Ever.
Heading into Great American, there was no doubt she looked in top form, having posted two times under 17:40 and grabbing big wins at Great Meadows and Oatlands.
But this was the kind of field where you could make a statement. Injury had set the Virginia athlete back in cross country over the years. She hadn't even competed at state over the previous two seasons. But her aspirations are far greater than that now, with possible national-qualifiers in the picture.
So her third-place effort was, if nothing else, kind of a big picture realization. Her dreams are more real than ever, having proved she can hang with the best of them.
I heard Great Oak ran pretty well. Am I correct? SAY I'M RIGHT!
In more ways than one. The first Cali teams to win Great American's ROC. Unfortunately, the footnote will be the girls performance.
But it's hard to nitpick any performance here. Doug Sole's gals averaged 18:18 across a 20-second spread and finished 17 places a part from one another, from 18th on through 35th place.
That was good enough for 71 points and a 54-point cushion over Loudoun Valley's (125) and Pine Crest's ladies (147), both of which are vying for an auto qualifier on this very course at NXR Southeast.
Those teams are good.
Great Oak's squad ran all over 'em.
After a third-place outing at Woodbridge -- it wasn't a bad performance, just not a great one -- this was a very well deserved bounce-back effort, and it made the right kind of statement.
OK, So the boys' race. How'd that go, Cory from MileSplit?
The Wolfpack's boys were incredible this weekend. Ranked No. 2 entering the meet, the squad raised its speed rating average a clear two points in just over a matter of weeks following its effort at Woodbridge, where Great Oak finished second to Newbury Park.
Every single scoring member was over a 180, which netted an overall five-man average of 182.2 on the WakeMed Course, a full 5K.
That might not seem like a lot. But variables are the difference-makers on race day, and that kind of performance gives you confidence moving forward.
And it wasn't predictable, either. This team ebbs and flows -- in a good way -- unlike many others, because every single member can step up on any given day and take the pole position. The squad is 10-deep.
This time it was Chris Verdugo -- of the backwards hat fame -- who ran a team-leading 15:10.2, which netted a 185. Just 15 places separated the first and fifth runners from Great Oak, which ultimately was the difference against No. 3 Loudoun Valley.
The Vikings weren't bad, either, and Saturday finally showed the true potential of senior Carlos Shultz, who ran like a true frontrunner and finished second overall in a PR of 14:55.60.
But there are still questions toward the back of this lineup -- its fifth and sixth were 172 and 171, respectively. Those performances are still consistent and good enough to get you to NXN -- they might even win you another NXR Southeast title. But in a national field, the spread will have to be tighter. And if Loudoun Valley wants to win another title -- at this point they seem like they're fighting an uphill battle -- they'll have to get better.
Don't Forget About La Salle Academy. Don't do it.
OK! The Rams were solid!
They were the best Rhode Island team on the day, and that, at the very least, keeps Bishop Hendricken, which finished fourth, at bay.
The Rams of Providence should have beaten Bishop Hendricken. And they did. But it was pretty close, too, with a 40-point difference and an identical team average.
What ultimately sets La Salle apart is that its first and fifth aren't far removed from one another. Displacement won't be a huge issue for this team in really any meet this season ...outside of nationals. In a more talented field, points will matter.
So that question is for another day.
But hey, the more impressive victory was the win over No. 11 ranked Severna Park, which finished fifth.
The Maryland school may have had a wicked close spread of 15-seconds, but the Rhode Islanders were faster across the board, with a 15:36 average, and put together a just as impressive 19-second spread.
These guys will be interesting to watch in the Northeast. Only two auto-qualifiers for NXN are there for the taking, and we have three teams worthy of those bids: CBA, La Salle and Bishop Hendricken.
Or Graham Banks. You know he won the race, right?
Enough About Great American. What about Arkansas' El Caliente-ness?
Once again, Southlake Carroll's teams looked really good, grabbing wins in both the boys' and girls' races. The Dragons had three girls under 19 minutes and the boys were all over 163, with its top two scoring pair putting together identical 178 speed ratings.
But I'm going to focus on something you're not going to see in the final result.
Melissa's Judson Greer won the boys' invitational race in 15:06.40. And he deserves all the credit in the world for winning. But it did get a little easier halfway through. At that point, he was being challenged by La Porte's Ryan Schoppe. The Texan eventually dropped out.
From what I've been told, Schoppe had a spike issue and kicked off his shoe halfway through the race. He was hoping to toughen out the rest of the course -- he and Greer were still pretty close together -- but his coach advised him to step off, considering there was some tough terrain ahead.
So take that for what it is.
The Goat Whisperer did some cool things, right?
Brooke Rauber scored the highest speed rating of her career this weekend, winning her hometown Tully Invitational in 17:14.3, which produced a 155 speed rating.
And here's the thing.
Don't sleep on Brooke! Her times don't always pop out to you, but sure enough, she always finishes among the best in the country. She's finished sixth in back-to-back seasons at NXN.
And there's a reason for that. While New York courses don't offer glitzy-fast terrain, hard-packed dirt and asphalt (mostly), they do something else important. They prepare you for hard moments. Mud. Thick grass. Rain. General unpleasantness.
Rauber has run through it, and yet again, it looks as though she's herding her way through the packs. She hasn't had a speed rating less than 147 this season. That's dangerous.
Also, she's a champion goat trainer (see above). And that is pretty awesome, too. Her favorite is Togo.
OK, real talk. Who's better right now: Beavercreek or Summit?
THAT IS A GREAT QUESTION.
I am honestly moving closer and closer toward believing in a national-contending Beavercreek team every week. And their recent performance at the Nike Valley Twilight Invitational continued along that thought-experiment.
This week saw the Beavers put together a five-girl average of 129.6. That followed the team's 122.4 average -- without Taylor Ewert -- at McQuaid and its 132.2 at the MSU Spartan Invitational.
It was another sign that Beavercreek's consistency is there.
But I'm not ready to move off Summit just yet.
The Storm averaged 127.8 at the Oxford Classic this weekend, totaled 126.6 from Nike Portland and put together 124.6 from the Northwest Classic.
As you can see, Beavercreek has beast-moded Summit's average in every sense.
But you can't necessarily compare these results back-to-back. Summit's depth is much stronger and is running healthily from 5-through-8. Beavercreek still has a question mark at 5-6-7.
While nobody is at Taylor Ewert's ceiling, and while Savannah Roark is running up to Fiona Max-levels at this point, there's plenty of movement left for the Summit squad to cover.
At the end of the day, we need more data! But this is an ongoing question.
Did Alaska really have its state championship this weekend?
Sure did. And once again, Fairbanks West Valley's Kendall Kramer put down a remarkable performance, winning the girls Class 4A race in 17:38.30.
That was her third straight title in Alaska and lowered her best of 17:51.10 from last season. She now has two sub-18 performances on the state course in Anchorage, which ties Allie Ostrander all-time -- though Allie owns the state record of 17:06.00.
Based on what Kendall's mother has told MileSplit, there's a chance she runs once more at Mt. SAC in late October. But because the season ends so soon -- and because snow and ice infringe upon adequate running terrain over the next few weeks in Fairbanks -- there's a strong likelihood that that was the last high school XC race of Kramer's career.
Which is kind of crazy. She ran just four 5Ks this fall and 19 for her career. For comparison's sake, Abby Vanderkooi ran 16 5Ks in Michigan last year as a freshman.
The boys' Class 4A, meanwhile, had the third-fastest time in state history. Dimond's Santiago Prosser went 15:14.40.
Can you give a shout out to Justin Wachtel, who ran really fast!
Yes, I can. Justin Wachtel, you fast.
The Mary Persons (GA) senior threw down a new US No. 3 time of 14:26.91 at the Alexander/Asics Invitational over the weekend. And while the course had a LOT of PRs, I truly believe Wachtel had an unbelievable effort.
It was Wachtel's second sub-15 performance and his second-big win of the season, behind his effort from the Wingfoot XC Classic. That also makes it six straight wins.
Anything Else You'd Like To Share, I Want To Read More About XC Things.
St. Charles East's (IL) boys beat Sandburg at Peoria. York's boys won a big one at Nike Twilight. The Live in Louisville XC Classic was pretty exciting. A talented freshman from New York won Paul Short's elite high school race. Don't sleep on this Paul Anderson kid from Mount Lebanon. Heidi Nielson won Nike South.
Those are just links.
I know, deal with it.
Anything we should know for next week?
Um, Nico vs. Leo at Clovis.
Until next time!