Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blincoe Edges Curtis for Villanova Male Runner of the Decade

Adrian Blincoe (r) and Bobby Curtis were Villanova's best in the decade

As we approach the end of the decade it is appropriate to consider the contenders for the title of Villanova male Runner of the Decade. The most accomplished VU runners of the 2000-2009 decade were Adrian Blincoe (2003) and Bobby Curtis (2008). In my view, third place should go to Ryan Hayden, but a very difficult decision for first and second remains. Also, it is important to weigh only those accomplishments attained by the respective runners while wearing the blue and white. Otherwise, Blincoe's 5 extra years of international success (including his 13:10.19 New Zealand national record at 5000 meters, his 3:54.40 mile and 3:35.50 1500 meter PRs, and his 2008 Olympic team appearance) would make him the clear winner of the award. Curtis will have his time to build a comparable record if he is able to do so. As it stands, though, both runners have compelling claims on the title.

Blincoe over Willis on NCAA DMR anchor
Adrian Blincoe was a three-time NCAA champion and seven-time All American. He was the 2002 NCAA indoor champion at 3000 meters, and was runner-up to Alistair Cragg at that same distance in 2003.  He also anchored two NCAA champion DMR teams (in 2002 and 2003). Blincoe also holds two school records: his 7:47.50 3000 meter time, achieved in Boston on January 27, 2002, erased Sydney Maree's previous mark. Moreover, Blincoe anchored the Villanova school record DMR team. While at Villanova he broke the 4:00 mile with his 3:58.19 indoors at the Armory on February 9, 2002. His other honors include anchoring the 2001 Penn Relays DMR Championship of America winner, 8 Big East titles, and a top-10 finish at the NCAA cross country nationals in 2000. In 2002 Blincoe was an NCAA finalist at 1500 meters outdoors (finishing 5th). In cross, Blincoe was the 2001 NCAA regional champion, finished 2nd in 2002, and was 3rd in 2000. He was runner-up at the 2001 Paul Short Invitational.

Curtis wins NCAA 5000 crown
Bobby Curtis is also an NCAA individual champion, winning the 5000 meters at the 2008 NCAA outdoor meet (see photo, left), after having finished 2nd in 2007. His outdoor title was the first for a Villanova male runner since 1981 and Curtis is #2 on the all-time Villanova 5000 meter list. Curtis was 4th at the NCAA indoor 3000 meters in 2008. Like Blincoe, Curtis went sub-4:00 by running a 3:57.20 at Swarthmore on May 14, 2007 (Michael Kerrigan also broke 4:00 in that race, coming home in 3:59.60, with Blincoe serving as rabbit through three-quarters). Curtis was arguably a slightly better cross country runner than was Blincoe (notwithstanding Blincoe's 9th place finish at XC nationals in 2000). Curtis won the Big East Cross Country individual title twice (in 2004 and 2007), was 3rd (2004) and 1st (2007) at the NCAA cross country Mid-Atlantic regionals, finished 15th at the 2004 and 4th at the 2007 NCAA cross country nationals. In addition, he won the prestigious Paul Short cross country race twice (2006 & 2007), setting a course record in 2007. He was runner-up at Paul Short in 2004. He was 2nd and 3rd at the 2007 and 2006 NCAA cross country Pre-Nationals.

Both Blincoe and Curtis won NCAA titles (3000i and 5000 meters, respectively), and both were runners-up at the NCAA meet in those same events. Curtis ran a faster 5000 while competing for Villanova, while Blincoe is the school record holder at 3000i. Blincoe was an NCAA finalist at 1500 and was part of two NCAA DMR champions. At bottom, the fact that Blincoe established a school record, won two additional national championships, and anchored the 2001 Penn Relays DMR victory gives the Kiwi an ever-so-slight edge over Curtis for the title of Men's Runner of the Decade.

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