Friday, December 31, 2010

Tollefson Wins Low Profile 10K in Jamaica

Carrie Tollefson continues her low-key return to competitive running after numerous injuries and the birth of her first child. Earlier this month Carrie won a 10K road race held in conjunction with the Raggae Marathon in Negril, Jamaica. This race represents a step up in distance for Tollefson, known primarily as a 1500-3000-5000 runner. While at Villanova, she won 3 NCAA titles over 3000 meters and a fourth at 5000 meters (in addition to an individual XC title); she won the US Olympic Trials 1500 meters in 2004.

Top 10 Results

1. Carrie Tollefson 35:05
2. Shana-Kay South 39:49
3. Roshae Burrell 39:50
4. Molly Ann Blake 40:44
5. Shaniek Watson 41:51
6. Roxanne Tyrell 42:34
7. Jhevre Hall 42:36
8. Chante Roberts 42:47
9. Lisa Buchanan 43:21
10. Tiffany Thomas 44:39

Thursday, December 30, 2010

One on One with Bobby Curtis -- Marathon in 2011?

Bobby Curtis - Waking Up to a Bright Running Future
Runner's Tribe (Australia)
December 28, 2010, 8:17pm

By Cindy King

26-year old American Robert "Bobby" Curtis had an outstanding year in 2010, running 13:18 for 5000m and 27:33 for 10,000 meters. Managed by Nic Bideau, the former Villanova University runner competed in World Cross Country in 2009 (finishing 37th) and 2010 (finishing 48th). He recently trained at Falls Creek in Victoria and ran 28:08.78 to place third at the Zatopek 10000m on December 9th, 2010.

RT: How was your final preparation for Zatopek, and what did you think of the race

BC: My training leading up to Zatopek was very good. I was doing more miles than I've ever done before, around 115 miles [184km] per week, and seemed to handle the new training very well. The race was pretty good. I didn't do any track work while in Australia and felt pretty comfortable out there just off the strength running from Falls Creek. I think if I can keep the miles up and freshen up with some speed work I'll run very well in the next few months.

RT: What keeps bringing you back to train here in Australia?

BC: I originally came to Australia in 2008 because that's when I started working with Nic Bideau. He recommended I come to Falls Creek to learn how to train properly and get away from the cold weather in Philadelphia. That first year it was just me, Collis Birmingham and Garry Henry looking after us on the bike. I really enjoyed my time in Australia in 2008 and that's why I've returned the last two years.

RT: Where is your favourite place to train in Australia, and why?

BC: Falls Creek is my favorite place to train. I think the terrain is great as the uneven surfaces make you strong and tend to help your tempo and rhythm once you get on the track or road. It's also pretty isolated this time of year so you have nothing better to do than get fit while you're up here.

RT: Where is your favourite place to train in the USA, and why?

BC: Mt Laguna California is my favorite spot in the US. It is very similar to Falls Creek; the terrain is a little rougher and the altitude is a bit higher. Ryan Gregson, Ben St Lawrence, Collis Birmingham and Mitch Kealey have all trained there and have all had great results shortly after.

RT: What are your short term and long term goals in running?

BC: Short term, I want to stay healthy and make both the World Cross Country and World Track & Field teams. Also, I'd like to build my strength with some higher mileage and maybe try a marathon in fall of 2011 or beginning of 2012 . Long term, I want to keep running enjoyable and that means keeping healthy and constantly improving. I'm back in America now. I left the morning after the 10k. I'll be doing a 4 mile road race on New Year's Eve in New York City then running the Cross International de Italica in Spain on January 16th. After that I plan on doing the US XC trials and then hopefully world XC.

RT: Are you working or studying back home?

BC: I have great support from Reebok that allows me to train full time. I graduated from Villanova University in 2008 and thus far haven't pursued any post-graduate studies.

RT: Your pbs of 13.18 for 5000 and 27.33 for 10,000 meters are outstanding. How much faster can you run in these events?

BC: I'd say my 27:33 was unexpected and very close to my best at the time, while my 13:18 was a little bit of a disappointment because of weather and pacing. In 2011 I'd really like to run under 27:20 and under 13:10.

RT: We have heard on the grapevine that you have suffered from insomnia. Is this true, and if so, how has it affected your running?

BC: I could write a novel about this so I'll try to keep it short, but I'll be detailed in case anyone with sleeping trouble is reading. I have definitely had some serious problems with getting adequate sleep. This started in college in the fall of 2004. It's improved greatly in the last year and I think that's one reason I've had success in 2010.

Sleep, especially from an emotional or behavioral perspective, is something medical professionals have just begun to study in earnest. When I first started exploring how I could help myself with my sleeping problem, which was difficultly falling asleep and staying asleep for days, weeks and months at a time, it was very difficult to sort out what was good long term advice and what was quacky, phony or maybe not viable in the long term. I experimented with a lot of different drugs and other less traditional treatments like light therapy, restricted sleep scheduling, yoga, and meditation. None of these things really helped me in the long term in any remarkable way.

To make a long story short, I think eventually I just realized that the active pursuit of trying to cure myself was probably perpetuating all the fear and anxiety I had concerning sleep and negative aspects of not sleeping (depression, fatigue, anxiety). In the end (a little over a year ago), I gave away the 20 or so books I had acquired on various topics related to sleep and vowed to not alter my life in anyway no matter how badly I had been sleeping in the preceding days. This was really the end of serious sleeping trouble for me. If I didn't sleep at all the night before I still ran twice that day. There were probably a few weeks where I ran 100 or more miles sleeping no more than 4 hours a night. But because I had agreed with myself that I wouldn't change my life on account of my sleep, I wasn't thinking destructive thoughts like:

- "okay if I get less than 4 hours tonight I'll only run 5 miles tomorrow", or

- "if I continue to sleep less than 4 hours a night this week I won't race on the weekend?", or

- "okay I slept very little last night, what did I eat, what did I drink, did I do anything wrong, was my room cold enough, did I accidentally have caffeine?"

So as I started to just get through the days no matter how I had been sleeping, I gradually thought less and less about sleep. Over a period of a few months my sleep amazingly returned to near normal. I was drinking 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day, having alcohol at night and doing other things that in the past I would have unreasonably feared doing because I thought they would harm my chances of sleeping well. On the flip side, I was no longer continuing with my routine of slightly quacky pre-sleep rituals (think deep breathing, stretching, warm milk, etc.) I didn't enjoy, but had adopted, only because I thought they would increase my chances of sleeping well.

I do still occasionally go the odd night or two without sleep much, but it doesn't change anything. I just go about my day and my obligations knowing I don't have to do anything extraordinary.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Villanova Men at Cross Country Nationals: A Complete History

The NCAA held its first national cross country championship meet in 1938, and -- save for 1943 when the meet was canceled due to World War II -- it has been held every year since. Villanova was first represented in the meet in 1948 (with two at-large runners) and qualified its first team in 1962. The Villanova men have since then won four team titles (1966, 1967, 1968, and 1970), and were runners-up twice (1962 and 1969). Here is a complete history of every Villanova man who has ever competed at the NCAA national championship meet.


(Team: n.a. = team did not qualify for national meet; finishers are at-large)
(Places listed are overall finishing place -- not team scoring place)

Team: n.a.
3. Browning Ross
17. George Thompson

Team: n.a.
3. John Barry

Team: n.a.
14. Victor Zwolak
82. Patrick Traynor

1962 ** National Runners-Up
Team: 2nd (69 places)
2. Patrick Traynor
4. Victor Zwolak
15. Thomas Sullivan
25. David Hyland
40. Martin Ferko
56. Owen Maguire
70. Albert Adams

Team: 9th (237 places)
1. Victor Zwolak ** VU's only male individual champion **
32. David Hyland
81. Noel Carroll
83. Thomas Sullivan
116. Martin Ferko
141. James Smyth

Team: 12th (294 places)
15. David Hyland
44. Thomas Sullivan
67. Louis Kotekos
113. Martin Ferko
145. Robert Cubbin
160. Noel Carroll
168. James Orr

Team: n.a.
12. Charlie Messenger (DQ’d for cutting course)
17. Dave Patrick

1966 ** National Champions
Team: 1st (79 places)
7. Tom Donnelly
8. Charlie Messenger
25. Frank Murphy
33. Ian Hamilton
39. Dave Patrick
113. John O’Leary

1967 ** National Champions
Team: 1st (91 places)
10. Charlie Messenger
23. Tom Donnelly
31. Des McCormack
34. Dave Patrick
36. Ian Hamilton
63. Dick Buerkle
68. Frank Murphy

1968 ** National Champions
Team: 1st (78 places)
8. Tom Donnelly
22. Dick Buerkle
29. Des McCormack
36. Chris Mason
47. Frank Murphy
185. Andy O’Reilly

1969 ** National Runners-Up
Team: 2nd (88 places)
11. Donal Walsh
31. Philip Banning
36. Chris Mason
38. Des McCormack
40. Dave Wright
73. Marty Liquori
89. Bill McLoughlin

1970 ** National Champions
Team: 1st (85 places)
2. Donal Walsh
9. Marty Liquori
23. Wilson Smith
37. Chris Mason
62. Les Nagy
85. Bill McLoughlin
168. John Hartnett

Team: 4th (161 places)
15. Dave Wright
25. Donal Walsh
30. Marty Liquori
69. Bill McLoughlin
129. John Hartnett
238. Wilson Smith
239. Les Nagy

Team: n.a.
16. John Hartnett

Team: n.a.
61. Kevin McCarey
186. Eamonn Coghlan

Team: 21st (486 places)
41. Carey Pinkowski
134. Phil Kane
160. Kevin McCarey
197. Chris Shafer
201. John Burns
265. Ed Takacs

Team: 15th (386 places)
67. Amos Korir
101. Kevin Dillon
107. Rob Earl
114. John Burns
147. Jim Flynn
187. Brad Gair
239. Dean Childs

Team: 7th (245 places)
7. Sydney Maree
28. Amos Korir
93. Dean Childs
94. Don Paige
121. John Hunter
201. Kevin Dillon
DNF. Carey Pinkowski

Team: 9th (298 places)
21. Amos Korir
56. John Hunter
82. Sydney Maree
92. Marcus O’Sullivan
165. Brian O’Keefe
197. Dermot Anderson

Team: 13th (377 places)
42. Ross Donoghue
62. John Hunter
126. Marcus O’Sullivan
129. Dermot Anderson
141. Kevin Dillon
151. Brian O’Keefe
188. Ken Lucks

Team: n.a.
100. Brian O’Keefe

Team: 14th (322 places)
33. Gerry O’Reilly
47. Marcus O’Sullivan
105. Anthony O’Reilly
113. Sean O’Neill
120. Brian O’Keefe
171. J. J. Clark
176. Michael McDonnell

Team: n.a.
16. Anthony O’Reilly

Team: n.a.
48. Gerry O’Reilly

Team: n.a.
152. Gerry O’Reilly

Team: n.a.
36. Terrence Mahon

Team: n.a.
65. Terrence Mahon

Team: 4th (153 places)
4. Louie Quintana
26. Terrence Mahon
33. David Hartman
52. Ken Nason
98. Michael Going
163. Kyle Watson
166. Matt Lamourie

Team: n.a.
14. Louie Quintana

Team: 9th (263 places)
14. Ken Nason
16. Louie Quintana
88. Todd Tressler
96. Kevin Christian
116. Kyle Watson
156. Steve Mazur
162. Stephen Howard

Team: 15th (302 places)
26. Ken Nason
46. Kevin Christian
90. Todd Tressler
102. Steve Mazur
135. Gabriel Soto
154. Stephen Howard
167. Coulby Dunn

Team: 19th (445 places)
63. Gabriel Soto
91. Stephen Howard
115. Scott Tantino
127. Cory Smith
145. Coulby Dunn
154. Steve Mazur

Team: n.a.
154. Coulby Dunn

Team: 17th (424 places)
48. Scott Tantino
65. Dean Smith
108. Tom Parlapiano
112. Eric Reese
204. Ben Showers
224. Tim Styler
244. Paul Carroll

Team: 6th (181 places)
9. Adrian Blincoe
29. Ryan Hayden
39. Tom Parlapiano
49. Jon Fasulo
104. Ben Showers
157. Tim Styler
181. Morgan Scoville

Team: 8th (282 places)
26. Ryan Hayden
42. Adrian Blincoe
46. Jon Fasulo
54. Tom Parlapiano
168. James Osborne
185. Pat Dunn
233. Tom Falvey

Team: 12th (398 places)
36. Adrian Blincoe
52. Jon Fasulo
125. Ryan Hayden
128. Pat Dunn
159. Marc Pelerin
163. Tom Parlapiano
220. Jason Jabaut

Team: 11th (353 places)
23. Jon Fasulo
31. Ryan Hayden
94. Bobby Curtis
137. Milos Mitric
161. Kippy Keino
180. Marc Pelerin
DNF. Patrick Dunn

Team: n.a.
15. Bobby Curtis

Team: 25th (526 places)
4. Bobby Curtis
102. Ben Guest
132. Michael Kerrigan
182. Bobby Papazian
225. Brian Long
234. Geoffrey Doody
241. Keith Capecci

Team: 31st (643 places)
72. Hugo Beamish
131. Dan Lewis
177. Keith Capecci
199. Carl Mackenzie
215. Steven Curley
240. Chris Williams

Team: 11th (359 places)
36. Mathew Mildenhall
81. Dan Lewis
85. Hugo Beamish
114. Bobby Papazian
124. Matt Gibney
230. Carl Mackenzie

Team: 23rd (550 places)
57. Mathew Mildenhall
127. Keith Capecci
148. Matt Kane
164. Brian Long
179. Hugo Beamish
209. Carl Mackenzie
214. Matt Gibney

Women's history soon to come.

Thanks to Walt Chadwick @ for providing the photo at the head of this post. Visit his website for classic photos, posters, and pads.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Aussie Sam McEntee Signs with Villanova

Western Australia's most promising young distance runner Sam McEntee (bib 1525 above) has joined the Villanova team and will compete for the Cats come January 2011. The 18-year-old 1500/3000 runner from Perth on Australia's southwestern coast boasts a recent 1500 PR of 3:47, and last week ran 8:21.65 over 3000 meters in Melbourne. McEntee ran 11:54 in winning the 2010 Rebel Sport City-to-Surf 4K road race on August 29th of this year. He looks to be competitive from 1500 to 5000 meters on the track. In cross country, Mcentee won the U20 Long Course (8k) title at the Western Australia 2010 State Championships on June 13, finishing in 27:42. This after coming 6th at the Western Australia 2010 State Short Course (4k) championships in May, where he ran 13:34.

McEntee's signing means that Marcus's squad will add two new members in January: along with McEntee, All American Ryan Sheridan, as reported here previously, has transferred in from Iona College.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Recruiting: Courtney Chapman

Fayetteville Manlius's Courtney Chapman (pictured above, left) will join Gina Procaccio's team for the fall 2011 campaign. Here is a story about the great accomplishments of the FM program, including recently winning its fifth consecutive Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) title. Chapman has been present for all five of these national titles.

The Revolutionaries: How Fayetteville-Manlius Girls Became America's Team

Marc Bloom takes a deep look at the program which has produced five straight NXN titles

“There’s a certain moment when you realize that you’ve actually just left the planet for a bit and that nobody can touch you. You’re elevated because you’re with a bunch of guys that want to do the same thing as you. And when it works, baby, you’ve got wings.”
–Keith Richards, in his autobiography “Life”

Portland, Dec. 4: For girls’ teams at the 2010 Nike Cross Nationals, it was the best of times and worst of times. It was a time of exultation and a time of bewilderment. It was a season of opportunity and a season of disillusionment. It was the epoch of belief and the epoch of incredulity.

It was Fayetteville-Manlius of New York not only winning its fifth straight girls’ title in record-breaking style—running almost 60 seconds per girl faster than the next two teams while scoring low enough, 27 points, to defeat the entire 22-team field if scored as one—but re-defining what girls can do. Almost four decades after Title IX allowed girls to compete, the Fay-Man girls, guided by their revolutionary coach, Bill Aris, have created a New Girl who, when linked with teammates, is able to run much faster and stronger than her nearest contemporaries.

“They’re regular kids,” said Joe Rosa, the New Jersey star who was 3rd at NXN in 2009 but had to watch this year’s race with an injury. “But they’re doing ridiculous things.”

“Ridiculous” is teen-speak for—what? What is the word, the superlative, for Fay-Man? Is some new language needed, some idiom? Maybe a comparison will have to do for now. They dominate like the Kenyans in the world junior cross-country race. Flying away. Leaving onlookers breathless. Looking so darn good doing it. Looking so cool afterwards. Looking, up close, cleansed, pure, glowing with natural-ness.

That, too, is Fay-Man. Race runner-up Christie Rutledge had the same twinkle in her eye seconds past the finish as I saw at dinner the night before. Maybe even during the race. “When I heard that Kate and Jillian were close,” she said, referring to teammates Kate Sischo and Jillian Fanning. “I had to smile. I couldn’t help it. Then I went back to racing.”

Fay-Man has the Kenyans’ barefoot thing going too. We’ve all seen it by now: F-M’s ritualistic post-race sprints, sans shoes, to reinforce the stripped-down essence that went into the race. It assures that the girls do not forget, even in their moment of glory, who they are and the work that led to excellence. In Portland, posing for pictures, their toes squished the cold mud as winds whipped by. I don’t think they felt a thing.

All five Fay-Man scorers placed ahead of the first girl from runner-up Saratoga Springs of New York. Same as at the New York state meet. The top four Fay-Man scorers placed ahead of all the 3rd-place Saugus girls, rated California’s best team ever.

Ridiculous? When the Fayetteville boys, with a 5:06 miler as a strong third-man, crept up on Arcadia—now that was ridiculous. Don’t think Fayetteville was that far away from sweeping the two races. Someday, that will happen. At NXN, the F-M boys have been 2nd (2004), 3rd (2005), 16th (2008), 9th (2009) and now 2nd again.

How do they do it?

All weekend on the Nike campus, even before the meet, people wondered aloud about the Fay-Man method. At one point, Fort Collins coach Chris Suppes, steward of one of the nation’s top programs with boys and girls teams in the meet (6 appearances, 2 boys and 4 girls, in 7 years), looked at me hard and asked, “How does Fayetteville do it?” It was almost rhetorical. I’m not sure Suppes wanted to know. Could the Fay-Man essence be copied?

Top California coaches like Rene Paragas (Saugus) and Doug Soles (Great Oak) corralled Aris for ideas. He shared what he could, like competing in only a few big meets all fall, which Paragas had picked up on with success. “Once I was able to give up some mid-season glory,” said Paragas, “it helped us. We’ve raced hard only three times and our team is running closer to its potential at the right time.”

But could Bill Aris share himself?

Saugus had nothing to apologize for: five straight state Div. II titles, five straight NXN appearances, four straight top-4 finishes. Afterwards, when I asked Paragas about the race, he said, “Our goal was to try and get 2nd.”

That is what this girls’ championship has become: a race for 2nd. With Fayetteville returning its top four and 6 of 7 for next season, it’s hard to imagine the 2011 race playing out any differently. And 2012, and…

This concession has no precedent. And it could, ironically, become a dangerous precedent. What will the national championship race become when, possibly, every year, one team is considered the winner before the season even gets under way? What will happen to the psyches of athletes racing F-M in any cross-country meet? In the hotel elevator before the meet, one female runner got excited seeing the “Manlius XC Club” banner, snapped some photos and told her teammates, “Now we know where they’re staying.”

These regular girls, as Joe Rosa calls them, inspire awe, envy, curiosity, fear. They may get knocked, as champions will. The web’s anonymity promotes that. What a pity.

Conditions? Rain, cold, wind or mud. Fast or slow. Fayetteville wins.

They win with a tight pack, as with last year’s 17-second spread. They win with, as this year, three girls in the top six and a 65-second spread. They win with injuries to overcome. They win after key runners graduate leaving gaps to fill.

Last year, three scorers who’d been on four championship teams graduated. “This was supposed to be a transitional year,” said Aris. “We had to re-mold the entire group.”

Little bits each day

Since the Aris oeuvre involves something amorphous, psychology—he says he spends most of his time on “emotional development”—there’s no system to mimic or borrow from, no Daniels’ tables to scour; it’s all about you, the coach, and your team culture. If the Aris discovery is learning how to get his runners to “become one,” well, that’s about personality and the subtleties of relationships. It’s about when Aris talks to a girl, looks her in the eye and says… whatever it is he says, with whatever tone of voice and body language inspire the moment.

Like the intonation that took Jillian Fanning from a freshman race winner at the 2009 Manhattan meet at Van Cortlandt Park to varsity runner-up this year behind Foot Locker champion Aisling Cuffe. “I noticed how hard all the girls worked,” Fanning said. “I found I loved working so hard and getting something out of it.”

No matter the season or particular set of athletes, says Aris, “You still have to get the kids completely unified.” How long does it take? “It’s an evolutionary process. It happens in little bits each day. It’s still happening.”

In Portland, the coach who I think was closest to getting a fix on Fayetteville was Tom Rothenberger of 4th-place Jesuit, the hometown favorite and another NXN mainstay. Asked about F-M, he told me, “If you create a running culture of expectation, then each new generation of athletes, even those not especially ‘talented,’ feel it’s the natural process and take ownership of it.”

It’s like what educators always say about the classroom. If you expect a lot from students, they produce. They want to produce. They want to shoot the lights out of a cross-country course, if only someone, like a Bill Aris, will insist they can do it.

“I don’t subscribe to a formal doctrine year after year,” said Aris. “If that makes me a revolutionary, so be it. I look outside the box in everything I do. I look at ideas I might disagree with because that stimulates my thinking. As far as training goes, everyone’s looking for the magic bullet workout. I’ve been asked that a thousand times. There aren’t any. It’s the understanding of how to apply training principles to get the most out of your kids.”

Greater than the sum of its parts

When I sat down to dinner with the team on the eve of the meet, the young ladies were intelligent, charming and poised. They joked about fussing over which color hair ribbons to race in. Gold at the regional, black at nationals.

They also gave off a touch of glamour. It was in the way they carried themselves. They conveyed a real-ness. Some were outgoing, others shy. What they had in common was lock-solid virtuosity. It was the nationals, and everything was okay.

None of the girls had been an age-group star. None started at Fay-Man with big ideas. None was a star now, at least not in her own mind. They were only one thing: together, a team.

It’s one thing to say you run for the team, and not yourself, and another to actually do it. In a nation bathed in artifice, there is not one drop of it at F-M. The enriching authenticity of functioning as a community to create something greater than the sum of its parts is, I think, what young people want in the first place. It’s what we all want. When that works, it forges a spiritual bond. These girls—Christie, Kate, Jillian, Heather, Courtney, etc.—love one another. You don’t let your loved ones down.

Perhaps Aris has not so much discovered a new idea but expertly nurtured an old one. His biblical light, his “Stotan” concept, combining “stoic” and “spartan,” may more easily be lived by the girls than they can readily explain. For Aris, the trinkets of life, the ornamental culture, do not cut it. Keep it simple and pure: hard work and selflessness. When kids “buy in,” transformation occurs and anything can happen.

A 'JV hanger-on' rises up

Though dry on race weekend, Portland was flooded with rain in November and the course was soaked. Meet officials had to pump out water beforehand, but mud would still be the backdrop of the day. Runners taped their shoes. Some lost shoes. There were pile-ups. “It was hard just to stand up,” said Molly McNamara of Red Bank Catholic in New Jersey, the Northeast Regional winner, who placed 25th. One girl from Tatnall of Delaware suffered a leg gash and was taken away to an urgent care facility where she received 25 stitches. She was in good spirits, with a bandage from foot to thigh, at dinner that night.

That’s cross-country—which has always drawn kids who were not the tallest or biggest or swiftest but tried the hardest. That in itself is a talent for it requires so much. Who but the Fayetteville girls embody that most?

The first F-M scorer, Rutledge, who led most of the race, was the 7th girl on the J.V. last year. “I still can’t believe it,” said her mother, Jill. “She’s taught me a lot.”

The second scorer, Katie Sischo, 4th, ran most of the race with her right shoe half-off. The third scorer, Jillian Fanning, a sophomore in 6th, knew nothing about cross-country when she started out as a freshman. The fourth scorer, Heather Martin, 16th, in her second year of cross-country, is a 57-second 400 runner.

The fifth scorer, Courtney Chapman, a member of all five NXN championship teams, placing 29th this year, would get winded walking around the block before coming out for the team in 8th grade (allowed in New York State). Her sister, Alexandra, now running at Bucknell, had been a team member. When Aris invited Courtney to join, her mother, Catherine, said, “Courtney? Are you serious?”

Chapman, headed for Villanova, was the only senior on this year’s squad. At F-M, every fall season has a theme. This time it was, do it for Courtney. She’d given to the team for many years. It was time to give back.

At Portland Meadows, Rutledge went for the lead, got it and held it until 4k, when Rachel Johnson of Plano High in Texas, the South Regional winner headed for Baylor, pulled ahead for the win in 18:19. Rutledge was 15 meters back. The rest of the field was 150 meters back.

How did Rutledge, in one year, transform herself from a J.V. hanger-on to one of the best runners in the country? “I started with 7th grade track and finally it came together,” she told me. “I started to feel a connection with the team. It’s now the main part of my life. Our coach helps me bring out my competitiveness.”

Limitless potential

Fayetteville-Manlius, a school of 1,300 students outside Syracuse in central New York, is not alone in unearthing hidden drive. Saratoga Springs got 2nd on the strength of soph Taylor Driscoll’s 35th-place run. Normally Saratoga’s 7th scorer, she was the first of the team’s tight, 18-second pack to finish. “Taylor discovered herself today,” said coach Linda Kranick. For 3rd-place Saugus, senior Danielle Hernando, said coach Paragas, “ran the race of her life.” Normally 4th or 5th girl, Hernando was 3rd scorer in 43rd, a few strides behind Driscoll. “I was so tired,” said Hernando. “I felt nothing but pain.”

You’d think Fayetteville’s Kate Sischo would have been in pain with her shoe hanging off but she dismissed it. “The bottom was folded under,” she said. But how did she run? “I kind of shoved my foot into the ground.” The shoe finally came off over the final hay bales and Sischo ran the last kilometer with one shoe, mud and all. She still managed to hold off Southeast Regional winner Haley Pierce of Tatnall, whose 5th-place run just ahead of Fanning prevented a Fay-Man 1-2-3 team sweep.

Sischo understood what Aris says about learning, that it never stops, that every run and race, every day, brings new thoughts and revelations. When I asked her if she felt that she’d run up to her potential, Sischo said, “I’m never going to say that I’ve fulfilled my potential because I’ll never know if that’s the case.”

When these girls are able to deflect the trite, understand humility and become Stotans, they embrace a disciplined life but one that, perhaps ironically, is the most free of all. They become faithful to their true selves, to what, deep down, they really believe in. Then Aris becomes a kind of missionary and, together, coach and athlete, they achieve something delivered from the Heavens.

Connecting this ascendancy to a guy like Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones’ brilliant, bad-boy guitarist, would seem an impossible leap of faith. But reading his book on NXN weekend I was struck by its tenderness and authenticity. For Richards, early on and even now, it was always about musical purity and art and the synergy of working with comrades to create a “sound.” The sound of the blues—that was where truth, meaning, could be found.

Many of us find our truths through running, a kind of music in itself, and so it rang right in Portland when Aris applied a musical metaphor to what he does. “I try and get into each kid’s mind and heart, and put that into a tapestry, a framework, that will work in a collective sense,” he said. “Let’s go to classical music. You have the great composers of the past. Today’s composers take their music and add to it. In running, our composers are Lydiard, Cerutty, Igloi… I take the tenets of each, add my own innovations and each season arrange it in a suitable format. It’s multi-faceted and time-consuming. People say, ‘Bill, you look tired.’ I am, but it’s a good tired.”

From corporate to cross country

Aris is 55. He runs himself. He’s a vegetarian. He’s tall and lean. He’s subdued in victory, though tears will well in his eyes when giving the girls, or boys, a collective post-race hug. He was trained in business and for many years before coaching was a corporate real estate manager. He’s been coaching at F-M since ’93 while working as a teacher’s aide. He recently retired from the aide position and now coaches full-time: both the Nike-sponsored post-collegiate Stotan Racing Team (with son John) and the high school squad.

“In my corporate job,” he said, “I traveled the country negotiating land sales and learned how to deal with people from all walks of life. I learned how to relate. The same principles apply at F-M. Negotiating, stroking, strategies. Being goal-oriented, trying to create excellence within a group.”

For Aris and his Stotans, it’s not business, it’s personal. “He takes the values that you try as a parent to teach your children and takes that another step,” said Catherine Chapman, Courtney’s mom. “He’s like a third parent.”

At first, her daughter Courtney was not exactly cross-country material. She just didn’t think running was for her. In 8th grade, in 2006, the year of Fayetteville’s first NXN victory, her parents convinced her to run by saying the season would be over in October since she was not on varsity. But Courtney was put on varsity and the sectional meet was coming up. “Just one more week,” said her mom. Then state. “Just one more week.” The state federation. “One more week.” Then nationals. “One more…”

At the federation meet, Fayetteville defeated Hilton, the 2005 NXN champion, and Saratoga, the 2004 NXN champion. In Portland, F-M triumphed by 50 points. Chapman was 5th scorer. There was no turning back now.

“People always ask, ‘What’s the secret of the F-M program?’” said Catherine Chapman. “It’s simple. It’s Bill Aris. He instills the belief that you can achieve these amazing things.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Zatopek 10 Race Video: Curtis (28:08.78) and Blincoe (28:25.52) go 3-4

One week ago Bobby Curtis and Adrian Blincoe competed in the 10,000 meter race at the Zatopek 10 in Melbourne, Australia.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reid Wins Honda Award as Top Female Athlete in NCAA Cross

Here is a story from the Villanova athletics website ( describing Sheila Reid's selection as the top female NCAA harrier. She won the individual title and led the Villanova women to a team title at last month's NCAA cross country championships.

Sheila Reid Voted Honda Award Winner as Top Female Athlete in Cross Country

Dec. 8, 2010

VILLANOVA, Pa. - Sheila Reid has won the 2011 Honda Sports Award in cross country, designating her as the nation's top collegiate female athlete in the sport. The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 35th year.

The Honda Sports Award is given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, along with automatic eligibility to become a "Top Three" finalist for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. Sheila Reid was voted over three other nominees for the 2011 award: Jordan Hasay, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, Emily Infeld, a junior at Georgetown University and Risper Kimaiyo, a University of Texas at El Paso sophomore. The candidates were selected based on their finish at the NCAA Cross County Championships.

"It is an honor just to be nominated and a privilege to win an award with such a storied history," Reid said. "The Honda Award is a testament to not just one season but to years of hard work. I am indebted to my coaches and teammates who support and inspire me both on and off the course."

A native of Newmarket, Ont., Reid led Villanova to an undefeated 2010 season and its second straight NCAA Championship. She captured her first NCAA national cross country crown and the eighth by a Wildcat athlete. Reid has also finished first two years in a row at both the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional and the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships. She is a five-time All-American as a cross country and track athlete and this fall was named the cross country National Female Athlete of the Year, as well as earning Mid-Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year accolades for the second straight season.

Like many Honda Sports Award winners, Reid is an academic standout in addition to her excellence in athletics. She is a three-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star with a 3.261 GPA, majoring in English.

Honda Award winners in basketball, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, volleyball, and track & field will be announced in the coming months. The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions. On June 27, 2011, the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup at a ceremony in New York, at which the "Top Three" finalist are scheduled to attend.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. has sponsored the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program for 26 consecutive years. Honda has donated over $2 million in grants and sponsorships to universities over the course of the program.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Curtis 3rd, Blincoe 4th at Zatopek 10

The two most recent Villanova men's NCAA individual champions (Curtis over 5000 meters, Blincoe over 3000 meters) ran today in the Zatopek 10 in Olympic Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. Bobby Curtis came 3rd in 28:08 and Adrian Blincoe was fourth in 28:25. A look at the times below reveals that the top runners were spread out on islands. Josphat Menjo, who has 2010's top 10,000 meter time, won by 26 seconds. Ben St Lawrence and Bobby Curtis finished close together in 28:05 and 28:08, respectively. Then another big gap to Blincoe in 4th, in 28:25. Curtis's track 10,000 PR is 27:33.39 from May of this year. For Blincoe, the New Zealand 5000 meter national record holder, it was his first top-flight 10,000 meter race on the track.

Event 35 Men 10000 metres Open
National: N 27:29.73 2009 Collis Birmingham, VIC
Meet Record: M 27:22.54 1998 Luke Kipkosgie
Name Year Team Finals
1 Josphat Menjo KENYA 27:39.80
2 Ben ST Lawrence NSW 28:05.25
3 Bobby Curtis USA 28:08.78
4 Adrian Blincoe NZ 28:25.52
5 Luke Kipkosgei KENYA 28:47.45
6 Liam Adams VIC 28:57.11
7 Collis Birmingham VIC 29:09.26
8 Shawn Forrest VIC 29:16.62
9 Steve Kelly VIC 29:29.12
10 Alan Craigie ACT 29:29.48
11 Russell Dessaix-Chin NSW 29:31.99
12 Courtney Carter NSW 29:38.50
13 Toby Rayner VIC 29:39.75
14 Tim Rowe NSW 29:51.79
15 Luke Hurring NZ 30:08.65
16 Shaun Krawitz VIC 30:11.88
17 Andrew White VIC 30:16.55
18 Bradley Croker NSW 30:26.40
19 Wondwosen Geleta VIC 30:28.42
20 Nathan Hartigan VIC 30:47.41
21 Roberto Busi WA 30:48.78
22 Chris Hartley SA 31:18.41
-- Brenton Rowe VIC DNF
-- Jason Woolhouse VIC DNF
-- Adrian McLean VIC DNF

Here is the IAAF report for the race:

Thursday, 09 December 2010
Menjo takes Zatopek 10,000m in steamy Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia - Josphat Menjo won the 50th men’s Zatopek 10,000 metres on Thursday (9) with a move Australian legend Ron Clarke would have loved.

Just before half-way, the point of the race at which Clarke reckoned his opponents were at their weakest, Menjo burst out of the leading group of five runners.

After a first half of 13:58.30, 2010’s fastest man over 10,000m reeled out lap after lap at 66-second pace to break away decisively from Ben St Lawrence, Collis Birmingham, Bobby Curtis and Adrian Blincoe.

With lapped runners his only targets, Menjo raced to the line in 27:39.80.

“It was very tough,” Menjo said, referring to the humid conditions.

“It must have affected the pacemaker. When he tried to speed up, he couldn’t. I tried to push him, but he couldn’t respond.”

If it was hard for Menjo, it was harder for his rivals.

“When I tried to move, it was hard for the others to follow,” he said.

Menjo said his time was “great for December,” and said he would love to come back for the 51st race at the new Albert Park complex next year.

“If they tell me early enough, I will prepare and run even faster,” he said.

Behind Menjo, St Lawrence burst away from Curtis and Blincoe with six laps to run to take second place, and the Australian title, in 28:05.25. Curtis was third in 28:08.78, giving the American runner two top three finishes in the past three Zatopek races.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This Day in Villanova T&F History

Twenty Years ago today, on December 8th, 1990, three future Villanova All Americans competed in San Diego in the Kinney (now Footlocker) Cross Country high school nationals. Jen Rhines, a junior from Liverpool, New York, finished 16th in a race won dominated by Melody Fairchild. On the boys front, Louie Quintana (now coach at Arizona State), representing Arroyo Grande high school in California, won the national title race in 15:07.2. He came home ahead of the third Villanovan in the mix -- Dave Hartman. Lots of great talent in the races: Deena Drossin (Kastor), Milena Glusac, Amy Rudolph, Megan Flowers, Alan Culpepper, among others. Here are the reasults from the races from the races.

Place Time Name Grade Region School Hometown State
1 16:39.2 Melody Fairchild 12 MW Boulder Boulder CO
2 17:38.3 Jeannie Rothman 12 W Westlake Westlake Village CA
3 17:40.6 Amanda White 10 NE Dulaney Cockeysville MD
4 17:44.6 Leanne Burke 12 NE Randolph Randolph MA
5 17:47.5 Veronica Barajas 11 W Channel Islands Oxnard CA
6 17:53.0 Deena Drossin 12 W Agoura Agoura Hills CA
7 17:59.8 Milena Glusac 10 W Fallbrook Fallbrook CA
8 18:03.0 Deresa Walters 12 NE East High Rochester NY
9 18:06.0 Kathy Knabb 12 NE Peters Township Pittsburgh PA
10 18:08.0 Monal Chokshi 10 NE Bridgewater-Raritan Bridgewater NJ
11 18:18.4 Carrie Garritson 9 W Rim of World Running Springs CA
12 18:21.7 Shelley Taylor 10 W Edison Fountain Valley CA
13 18:22.1 Amy Rudolph 12 NE Kane Area Kane PA
14 18:23.3 Jill Schuler 10 MW Floyd Floyds Knobs IN
15 18:25.7 Jennifer Warthan 11 MW Bloomington Bloomington IN
16 18:26.0 Jennifer Rhines 11 NE Liverpool Liverpool NY
17 18:29.2 Rachel Sauder 11 MW Archbold Archbold OH
18 18:29.5 Erica Sumi 10 W Wilson Long Beach CA
19 18:29.9 Molly Lori 11 MW East Kentwood Kentwood MI
20 18:35.0 Robin Bryson 12 W Eisenhower Yakima WA
21 18:38.5 Jennifer Norton 12 NE East Islip East Islip NY
22 18:39.1 Meghan McCarthy 11 SO Robinson Secondary Burke VA
23 18:45.4 Viivi Tiainen 11 SO East Bay Gibsonton FL
24 19:10.1 Margaret Robinson 10 SO Huntsville Huntsville AL
25 19:11.0 Meredith Fitzgerald 12 MW Euclid Euclid OH
26 19:24.5 Jessica Scafidi 12 SO Leon Tallahassee FL
27 19:38.5 Stacy Swank 11 SO Texas Military Inst McQueeney TX
28 19:40.2 Anita Coverdale 12 SO Brookwood Lawrenceville GA
29 19:55.7 Sarah DeMartini 12 MW Poudre Fort Collins CO
30 20:30.0 Kala Boulware 12 SO Spring Valley Columbia SC
31 DNF Megan Flowers 11 SO Trinity Valley Ft. Worth TX
32 DNF India Ford 12 MW Euclid Euclid OH

Place Time Name Grade Region School Hometown State
1 15:07.2 Louie Quintana 12 W Arroyo Grande Nipomo CA
2 15:17.1 Jason Casiano 12 MW Portage Portage IN
3 15:20.9 Dave Hartman 12 W Canyon Canyon Country CA
4 15:25.2 Alan Culpepper 12 SO Coronado El Paso TX
5 15:25.6 Kevin Hogan 12 NE Longwood Coram NY
6 15:26.8 Chip Furman 12 NE Tri-Valley Center Grahamsville NY
7 15:28.1 Ricky Gallegos 12 SO Crystal City Crystal City TX
8 15:29.3 Eric Smoot 12 MW Horace Mann Gary IN
9 15:33.0 James Menon 12 W San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo CA
10 15:34.1 Ibrahim Aden 11 SO Fork Union Military Aca. Fairfax VA
11 15:34.5 Steve Oliver 12 NE Dallas Senior Shavertown PA
12 15:36.8 David Gurry 12 W Blanchet Seattle WA
13 15:37.7 Corey Ihmels 11 MW Williston Williston ND
14 15:38.0 Phil Downs 11 MW James Madison Memorial Madison WI
15 15:39.6 Brian Hesson 10 MW Caldwell Elba OH
16 15:43.4 Angel Martinez 11 W San Gabriel Rosemead CA
17 15:48.5 Kevin Graham 12 SO Jonesboro Jonesboro GA
18 15:48.9 Travis Wettlaufer 12 MW Oldham-Ramona Winfred SD
19 15:51.7 Ted Fitzpatrick 12 NE Lexington Lexington MA
20 15:53.7 Jim McCreey 12 W Campbell County Gillette WY
21 15:54.9 Danny Harrell 12 SO Jackson Miami FL
22 15:59.9 A.J. Campbell 11 MW Grand junction Grand Junction CO
23 16:04.0 Jason Maschmeyer 10 W Churchill Eugene OR
24 16:04.9 Nate Ruder 12 NE Fairport Fairport NY
25 16:05.2 Bryan Spoonire 12 NE Asbury Park Asbury Park NJ
26 16:13.2 Chris Georgules 12 NE St. John’s Worcester MA
27 16:13.9 Theodore Molla 11 W Rincon Tucson AZ
28 16:17.6 Mark Smith 12 SO Western Albemarle Crozet VA
29 16:20.0 Michael McClafferty 12 Ne Bishop Egan Levittown PA
30 16:36.9 Kevin Odiorne 12 SO Dobyns-Bennett Kingsport TN
31 16:42.5 Matt Priest 12 SO Poteet Sunnyvale TX
32 16:54.1 Darrell Hughes 12 MW Westland Columbus OH

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Curtis Brings Gaudy 27:33 to Zatopek 10,000

Bobby Curtis will compete in the 50th running of the Zatopek 10 tomorrow at Olympic Stadium in Melbourne, Australia (where he trains during the US wintertime). Curtis owns an all-time USA top-10 PR over 10,000 meters (27:33.38 at Stanford in May of this year) and will be in the mix with training partner and Australian national record holder Collis Birmingham (PR 27:29), Ben St Lawrence, Kenyans Josphat Menjo (who is the 2010 world leader with a 26:56.74 to his credit) and Luke Kipkosgei (who owns the course record of 27:22.54), and Aussie 10,000 specialist Shawn Forrest. Curtis finished second in the 2009 race.

Here is a nice preview:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rhines Takes Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

Jen Rhines today won the Rock n Roll Las Vegas half marathon, in 1:14:57. She split 17:05 (5k), 56:42 (10 miles). It was her first half marathon since 2006. Jen's half marathon PR is 1:11:45 from 2003. She won by over four minutes.

Top 5 Women
1 251 Jen Rhines 1:14:56.95 (5:53 pace)
2 255 Johanna Bonfiglio 1:19:07.83 (6:12 pace)
3 254 Bria Wetsch 1:19:28.22 (6:18 pace)
4 252 Amy Hastings 1:19:39.43 (6:33 pace)
5 258 Ilea Eskindsen 1:21:03.09 (6:30 pace)

Happy Birthday, Chris Mason

One of the rare Englishmen to run for Villanova, Chris Mason turns 62 years old today.

Chris was the 6th Villanovan to break the 4:00 mile barrier, running 3:59.9 in 1970. Mason was a stalwart of fine Villanova teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s, earning numerous All American certificates and Penn Relays watches. At the NCAA championship meets, Mason was 7th in the 1969 mile finals, 8th in 1970, and 5th in 1971 (each of these races was won by teammate Marty Liquori, thereby overshadowing a great three-year streak by Mason). Mason also competed in the 1971 AAU national meet, where he finished 4th, in a race also won by Liquori. In cross country, Mason was part of two NCAA title teams (1968 and 1970), and a third that finished second (1969). In the 1968 and 1969 races, he finished 36th overall, and in 1970 he came 23rd.

At the Penn Relays, Mason won 8 Championship of America titles. In 1969 Mason won three watches: (1) he teamed with Andy O'Reilly, Marty Liquori, and Frank Murphy to capture the two-mile relay in a meet record. (2) He ran the lead-off 1200 leg in the DMR, followed by Lamotte Hyman (400), Frank Murphy (800), and Marty Liquori (1600). Finally in 1969, (3) Mason wan the third leg of a Tom Donnelly-to-Dick Buerkle-to-Chris Mason-to-Marty Liquori four-mile relay. The next year in 1970 Chris again won three Penn Relays championships, in the same four events: in this meet Mason handed off three times to Marty Liquori, who again anchored all three wins. Finally, in 1971, Mason ran the third legs of the two mile relay and the DMR, collecting two more watches.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kudos to Tom Donnelly ('69) and his Goats

Tom Donnelly was a key to three cross country national titles for Villanova in 1966, 1967, and 1968. He was an all-american twice in cross (when the criteria were more onerous than they are today), and achieved all-american status on the track as well (he was an NCAA finalist three times in the steeple: 1967: 8th, 1968: 4th, and 1969: 3rd). He guided the professional running careers of, among others, Sydney Maree (who at one point after running 13:01 had the third fastest 5000 meter time in history) and Marcus O'Sullivan (who won three world championships over 1500 meters and ran 101 sub-4:00 miles). He's been the head coach at Haverford since the mid 1970s and last week he coached the Goat harriers to the first NCAA title ever won by a Haverford sports team. Here is the article that appeared in the New York Times.

For Haverford, 2 National Cross-Country Titles and a Rhodes Scholarship
November 24, 2010
New York Times

So much good news rolled into the world of the Haverford College men’s cross-country family last Saturday that it was almost too much for its longtime coach, Tom Donnelly, to process in the span of a few hours.

Tom Donnelly has coached at Haverford College for 36 years and has produced more than 100 all-Americans. As he ran toward the finish line at the N.C.A.A. Division III national championship course in Waverly, Iowa — he had stationed himself at the four-mile mark to urge his runners on — Donnelly frantically asked the first of them he saw, Anders Hulleberg, how he had done.

“I won,” Hulleberg said.

“No, you didn’t!” Donnelly answered.

Back at his office this week at Haverford, in suburban Philadelphia, Donnelly laughed while recalling the scene.

“I’m not sure Anders even believed it at the time,” he said.

And the news only got better. Hulleberg, a senior whose prerace hopes were to finish in the top 10, had not only won the individual title, but Haverford had also won its first national team championship.

The next wave of excitement came when Donnelly and the team returned to the hotel and received a call from Andrew Lanham, the team’s best runner a year ago, who told them he had won a Rhodes scholarship.

“It was an exclamation point on a day that already had 10 exclamation points,” Lanham said.

It was an extraordinary day even for Haverford, a cross-country power despite being among the country’s smallest liberal arts colleges. Donnelly has coached there for 36 years, producing more than 100 all-Americans, his teams capturing many N.C.A.A. regional titles. “These are just great, great human beings,” Donnelly said of his runners, who receive no athletic scholarships. “This school attracts this kind of kid. It’s the greatest thing about coaching here.”

His dedication seemed to pay off tenfold in one day.

Hulleberg, a senior, was having a strong season and entered the race believing he could finish in the lead pack over the 8,000-meter course, which is just under five miles. He was 89th in 2009, not a finish that marked him as a potential contender a year later. But he found himself among the leaders in the final half-mile, then kicked past them, finishing in 24 minutes 22.2 seconds.

“It was just really, really cathartic,” Hulleberg said of the finish. “To win a national title and have your team win a national title is what every runner fantasizes about. They had a scoreboard at the finish and to see Haverford’s name pop up there in first was really amazing.”

Haverford’s top five runners finished among the first 35, making the all-American cut. Chris Southwick, a senior, was 19th in 24:43.5. The senior Lucas Fuentes was 21st (24:45.6), the sophomore Jordan Schilit 31st (24:52.2) and the junior Eric Arnold 34th (24:53.9).

“I knew they could do well,” Donnelly said. “The main thing is, this team really trusts each other. They know if they put everything out there, it would be reciprocated.”

Back at Haverford, Lanham was nervously watching the race, more confident even than Donnelly that his former teammates could win. He had gone through his Rhodes scholarship interview that morning and was so focused on the race, he said, that he wasn’t even nervous for himself.

“I probably should have been,” Lanham said. “But my nerves were all tied up with the team out in Iowa.” He found out a few hours later that he was among 32 Americans chosen for the honor. He immediately called Donnelly and the team.

Lanham said that he had stopped by practice before the team left for Iowa and that Donnelly seemed as concerned with his Rhodes scholarship as he did with the team’s chances. And he told Lanham he believed he would win it. Lanham had spent the time since his graduation last spring tutoring underprivileged children near Philadelphia. He graduated with a double major in English and philosophy.

The thing that tied all of their successes together, the runners said, was Donnelly.

“He could be coaching world-class athletes,” Hulleberg said. “That he chooses to spend his life at a small Division III school, putting so much effort into coaching us, running for him is just an incredible honor.”

And those honors just keep rolling in.