TullyRunners -  Article


High National Speed Ratings from the Past

by Bill Meylan (July 15, 2015)

Recent inquiries prompted this article ... Since TullyRunners focuses on speed ratings for cross country, some viewers are asking about the highest speed ratings at the nation level in past years ... In particular, they are asking about the speed ratings for the following three performances:

 ... Dathan Ritzenhein - at the Michigan State Meet 2000 (MI State course record)
 ... German Fernandez - at the California State Meet 2007 (Woodward Park course record)
 ... Cathy Schiro - at the Kinney (Footlocker) Northeast Seeded Race 1984 (Van Cortland Park course record)

Followers of TullyRunners probably know that the speed ratings for the Footlocker National races are generally the highest speed ratings I have derived nationally ... Each year I post the historical Footlocker results with speed ratings (including the highest).

The following table lists my highest speed ratings from both Footlocker and other XC races (including the three performances mentioned above) ... Please Remember -The lists are limited to races I have evaluated ... and that excludes most non-Footlocker races prior to 2000.

For those interested, this article also discusses the method used to derive the speed rating for Dathan Ritzenhein's Michigan State Meet record ... Plus some background information on Cathy Schiro (see why she was capable of high speed ratings).

Boys Highest Speed Ratings

From Footlocker Nationals ... (additional values at this link)

                                              Time        Speed Rating   (Year)
                                              --------    ------------   ------
Dathan Ritzenhein 12      Rockford  MI        14:35       213.7    214    2000
Adam Goucher  12          Doherty  CO         14:41.7     213.1    213    1993
Chris Solinsky   12       Stevens Point  WI   14:40.5     212.5    212    2002
Dathan Ritzenhein 11      Rockford  MI        14:29.83    211.7    212    1999 ** Orlando FL course record
Marc Davis      12        San Diego     CA    14:38.1     211.3    211    1986
Donald Sage 12            York HS  IL         14:33.85    210.4    210    1999
Michael Fout (12)         LaPorte H.S.   IN   14:50       210.3    210    2007
Ian Dobson 12             Klamath Union  OR   14:34.28    210.2    210    1999
Edward Cheserek  11       Newark  NJ          14:51.5     209.8    210    2011
Futsum Zeinasellassie 12  Indianapolis  IN    14:52.1     209.6    210    2011
Josh Rohatinsky 12        Prove UT            14:36.24    209.6    210    1999
Bryan Dameworth 12        Agoura        CA    14:49.9     209.4    209    1989
MebrahtorM Keflezighi 12  San Diego CA        14:53.0     209.3    209    1993
Scott Fry       12        Sandusky   OH       14:50.0     209.3    209    1984
Reuben Reina    12        John Jay      TX    14:36.8     208.7    209    1985 ** Balboa Park course record
Christopher Derrick (12)  Neuqua Valley HS IL 14:57       208.0    208    2007
Matthew Withrow  12       Tinley Park  IL     14:55       207.7    208    2003

From Races Other Than Footlocker Nationals

Dathan Ritzenhein   12    Rockford HS     MI  14:10.4     210.53   211    2000 - MI State Meet
German Fernandez    12    Riverbank HS    CA  14:24.0     209.00   209    2007 - CA State Meet
Edward Cheserek     11    St. Benedict's  NJ  14:53       208.3    208    2011 - NJ Shore Coaches (Holmdel Park)
Joe Rosa            11    WW Plainsboro N NJ  14:56       208.3    208    2009 - NJ MOC (Holmdel Park)
Matthew Withrow     12    Tinley Park     IL  14:54.0     207.3**  207    2003 - Footlocker Midwest (Kenosha, WI)
  ** re-evaluated from 209 to 207; Matt Withrow then won Footlocker
       beating Galen Rupp, Josh McDougal, Ben True, Garrett Heath,
       Lopez Lomong and others.
Girls Highest Speed Ratings

From Footlocker Nationals ... (additional values at this link)

                                             Time        Speed Rating    (Year)
                                             --------    ------------    ------
Amber Trotter  (12)     Redwood Valley  CA   16:24.07    180.3    180    (2001) ** Orlando FL course record
Melody Fairchild  12    Boulder  CO          16:39.2     177.9    178    (1990) ** Balboa Park course record
Julia Stamps  10        Santa Rosa   CA      16:41.9     173.0    173    (1994)
Janet Smith  12         Edison  NJ           16:43.7     170.4    170    (1983)
Aisling Cuffe (12)      Cornwall  NY         16:53       170.3    170    (2010)
Cathy Schiro  12        Dover   NH           16:48.1     169.0    169    (1984)
Jordan Hasay (9)        Mission College CA   17:05       169.0    169    (2005)
Erin Keogh     11       McLean   VA          16:43.8     168.4    168    (1985)
Aislinn Ryan (11)       Warwick Valley  NY   17:31       167.7    168    (2004)
Erin Sullivan           Mt. Mansfield VT     17:22.2     167.6    168    (1997)
ERIN SULLIVAN 12        Mt. Mansfield VT     17:35.70    167.1    167    (1998)
Erika Odlaug (12)       Bannockburn  IL      17:04.30    166.9    167    (2001)
Sara Bei  (12)          Montgomery  CA       16:55       166.7    167    (2000)
Natasha Roetter (12)    Lexington  MA        17:05.14    166.6    167    (2001)

From Races Other Than Footlocker Nationals

Cathy Schiro   12       Dover  NH            16:46       173.67   174    (1984) - Kinney Northeast (VCP record)
Aislinn Ryan   11       Warwick Valley  NY   16:56.31    168.2    168    (2004) - Great American ROC WakeMed,NC
Aisling Cuffe  12       Cornwall  NY         17:16.9     167.4    167    (2010) - NY Feds (Bowdoin Park record)
Nicole Blood   11       Saratoga  NY         17:27.3     166.9    167    (2004) - NY Federations (Bowdoin Park)

  Others for reference:
Sarah Baxter   11       Simi Valley  CA      16:00.0     166.0**  166    (2012) - Mt. SAC Invite course record
Alexa Efraimson   11    Camas  WA            16:50.1     165.3    165    (2013) - NXN Nationals (Portland Meadows)
  ** upper-limit evaluation (164 was originally derived and still acceptable)

Why are the Footlocker National Speed Ratings So High?? ... Footlocker Nationals is unique ... A small field of many of the best elite runners in the nation compete head-to-head on a course that is generally in good (fast) condition with good weather ... Runners come to run fast and win ... The best finishers often elevate their performance level to new heights (by necessity to compete well) ... and it is reflected in the speed ratings by the process I use to derive Footlocker speed ratings ........ Analogies in track & field might be races like the Arcadia Invitational 3200 meters, the Brooks PR Invitational, the adidas Dream Mile, professional & college races and others where fast national track times occur due to the nature of the race and the competition ... High school cross country has far fewer opportunities, and Footlocker National stands out.


German Fernandez and Cathy Schiro:

Cathy Schiro with the 1984 Kinney National trophy

German Fernandez ... set the Woodward Park, CA State Meet course record in 2007 (14:24.0) ... I posted the speed ratings for this meet back in 2007 (CA State 2007 meet speed rating link) ... Upon re-evaluation, the derived speed rating of 209.0 is accurate ... The Saugus Girls team had excellent speed ratings (145, 144, 132, 132, 131, 130, 120) as did Christine Babcock (159) and Jordan Hasay (158) ..... Clearly an outstanding performance by German Fernandez who would go on to finish 3rd at Footlocker Nationals behind Michael Fout and Chris Derrick.

Cathy Schiro ... Who is Cathy Schiro? ... She attended Dover High School in New Hampshire ... As  a senior in April 1985, Cathy won the Penn Relays 3000 meter race with a time that still stands as the Penn Relays record (9:15.3) ... On May 12, 1984 of her junior year (at age 16), Cathy Schiro was the youngest runner in the 1984 Olympic Marathon Trials in Olympia, Wash (her first marathon) ... Her 9th-place finish (with a time of 2:34:24) still stands as the National High School Record in the Marathon ... That Olympic Trials race was won by Joan Benoit Samuelson (2:31.04 ... 3rd-place was 2:32.26) ... Cathy got to the Olympic Trials by winning the Avon Half Marathon in Central Park NYC (in Sept 1983) by more than 2 minutes over 1600 women runners with a record time of 1:13.19.

Cathy Shiro competed in four Kinney (Footlocker) Nationals finishing 1st, 3rd, 10th and 19th in 1984, 1983, 1982 and 1981 respectively ... Cathy finished 3rd at Kinney Nationals in 1983 behind Janet Smith who is #4 on Footlocker speed rating table above with a 170 speed rating ... Note that Kinney Nationals would become Footlocker Nationals in later years ... As a senior in 1984, Cathy won Kinney (Footlocker) with a speed rating of 169.0.

Cathy Schiro's time of 16:46 at the Kinney (Footlocker) Northeast regional still stands as the 5K record at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City ..... 3rd on the Van Cortlandt Park record list is Janet Smith (17:08.1 in 1983 ... Schiro finished 2nd in that race at 17:39.0 ... results currently at: http://footlockercc.com/northeast/results/ ).

To derive Cathy Schiro's speed rating of 174 for the 1984 Van Cortlandt Park race, I used methods similar to that discussed below for Dathan Ritzenhein's State Meet race ... In the Northeast race, Cathy was only 1:20 slower than the Boy's winner John Trautman (who finished 2nd at Nationals) ... Link for the speed ratings and results for Kinney (Footlocker) Northeast 1984).

I have written about Amber Trotter in the past and her incredible senior year in high school ... Melody Fairchild was another remarkable high school runner ... Cathy Schiro is number 3 on my highest all-time speed rating list ... These three women are at the top of my list for a reason ... They did something very special ... and knowing something about Cathy Schiro's performance background gives an insight into how special and talented she was in high school.



Dathan Ritzenhein & the Michigan State Meet 2000:

Dathan Ritzenhein winning Footlocker 2000 in Orlando, FL

The Michigan State Cross Country Meet (Lower Peninsula) is contested at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, MI ... It was run there in 2000 and every year through 2014 ... That consistency is helpful for my speed rating process.

Results with speed ratings for the Michigan State Meet 2000 are posted on this link ...... Of interest, in addition to Dathan Ritzenhein's speed rating of 211, is the performance of the winning Rockford Boys & Girls teams ... The top five boys had speed ratings of 211, 187, 186, 185 and 169 ..... The top five girls had speed ratings of 143, 143, 142, 128 and 120 ... Both teams could be challengers at NXN Nationals with those ratings.

Discussion of my speed rating process is given below ... I expect it will be boring for most viewers, but I'm including it for those who are interested ... and to show I didn't simply make-up or guess Dathan Ritzenhein's speed rating of 211 at Michigan States 2000.


Graphical Interpretation of Cross Country Results 

My BS degree is in chemical engineering, and engineers use graphs and plots for all kinds of things ... My career as as an environmental scientist involves manipulation of large data sets of chemical and physical properties for various estimation techniques ... So I am comfortable with graphical solutions for data evaluation ... and I have applied some graphical techniques to evaluating high school cross country results.

Important Note about Data Points ... Humans are not perfect ... Not only are humans imperfect, human performance is variable; some more variable than others ... So statistical (or subjective) results from imperfect-variable data will never be perfect or precise ... BUT the results can be accurate enough for the intended purpose ... That is the goal of speed ratings - to measure the relative speed of runners at different races, different venues and different dates with acceptable accuracy ... "relative" means relative to all other runners.

I graph the results of nearly all races I evaluate ... any anomalies become visible as does part the race profile itself ...... I maintain a library of race profiles for most races I evaluate ... a Race Profile includes:

 ... (1) the data points (finishing position with corresponding race times and derived speed ratings)
 ... (2) the final race adjustment (or adjustment equation) used to make the speed ratings
 ... (3) specific evaluation notes including the quality of the adjustment

All race evaluations are NOT equal in quality ... Some are just better than others ... some have low uncertainty and low margins of error ... some have high uncertainty and may be useless in future statistical application ... I use higher quality race profiles to help derive speed ratings whenever possible.

Michigan State Meet 2000 - Graphical Evaluation

In my speed rating process, the graphical profile of the Michigan State Meet 2000 needs to be compared to existing race profiles of known speed in my library so I can approximate a race adjustment for the 2000 State Meet based on known adjustments from other races ... Using just any race for comparison will NOT work ... Experience has shown that using races of approximate equal overall quality general works if applied properly, and that the best comparisons commonly come from the same race from previous years.

So my first choice for graphical evaluating the 2000 Michigan Boys States Meet is to compare it to other Michigan State Meets ... Michigan used four divisions at States in 2000 and are still using four divisions with approximately the same number of runners in each division ... this really helps in maintaining overall quality for my comparisons ... The graph below includes merged results from the Michigan State Meets in 2000, 2013 and 2014 for the top 200 runners:

The straight red lines are my eye-determined manual placement of time comparisons (that's how I do it) ... I devised my process to read the difference at the Y-axis based on population segments of the races ... As can be seen, the top runners are ignored ... Dathan Ritzenhein and Grant Fisher's speed rating is determined by how fast they ran relative to other runners, and NOT by how fast they ran relative to the course. 

Michigan 2000 and Michigan 2014 look very similar in terms of speed ... only a single red-line is needed on the graph ... In contrast, the graph shows Michigan 2013 running about 9 seconds slower than Michigan 2014 (I like multiples of three since 3 seconds equals one speed rating point).

In addition to the merged results for both boys and girls, I also look at graphs of individual division races.

My race profiles for Michigan 2012, 2013 and 2014 have established race adjustments:

 ... Michigan Boys 2014 - 75 seconds
 ... Michigan Boys 2013 - 69 seconds
 ... Michigan Boys 2012 - 81 (maybe 84) seconds (with some uncertainty)

That is the amount of time I add to the actual final race times to determine the speed rating ... 2013 was about 6 seconds slower than 2014 ... and 2012 was 6 seconds faster than 2014 ... Note that the recent Michigan race adjustments above include a separate method of determination using known speed ratings of individual runners from a database and statistical correlation with final times ... I don't have that for Michigan 2000, so I'm relying strictly on a graphical solution with Michigan 2000 ... I looked at other years as well.

Overall - Michigan 2000 had a race adjustment of about 78 seconds (or it was about 3 seconds faster than 2014) ... If somebody wants to argue it was 3 seconds faster or slower than my number, I would not complain because it is well within any margin of error.

Comparing Michigan 2000 to Washington State 2014 and New York State 2014:

I also looked at other States ... I tried the New York State 2014 Meet because it uses four race divisions at States ... I also tried the Washington State Meet because I thought the Washington course might be a good comparison to the Michigan International Speedway (actual site of the Michigan State course) ... Here is the graphical comparison:

The Washington State 2014 Meet has a known race adjustment of 81 seconds (good quality) ... the graph above shows a difference of about 6 seconds between Michigan 2000 and Washington 2014 ... The overall quality of the Washington State Meet may be a bit higher than Michigan 2000 if the slopes of the red lines are appropriate (I excluded the lowest of 5 divisions in WA which could explain it) ... But it generally agrees with the race adjustment of 78 seconds for Michigan 2000 based on other Michigan State results.

The overall quality of New York State Meet can differ a bit from other States meets because its qualifying procedure ... The graph shows a difference of about 27 seconds slower than Michigan 2000 ... Again, nothing to contradict the race adjustment derived from other Michigan State results ..... I tried a number of other State Meet results as well including older results going back a number of years ... Bottom-Line - a Michigan State 2000 race adjustment of 78 seconds seems accurate enough for the intended purpose.

Important ... The graphical solution method I use requires experience ... Where to draw the red lines and believability of the solution is something I had to learn over time ... The examples above are fairly easy and straight-forward, but many early and mid-season races can be a challenge ... I decided not to post speed ratings for about two dozen out-of-State races last year because I knew the solution was too uncertain at the time.

I use three different methods to derive race adjustments for speed ratings:
 (1) Graphical solution (as demonstrated above)
 (2) Statistical correlation with previous speed ratings ... Each runner in a race has their prior speed ratings retrieved from a database, and an overall prior speed rating for each runner is correlated with the final times of the race to derive a race adjustment (This is the preferred method when sufficient data are available).
 (3) Historical knowledge of the relative speed of a specific race course (as determined by 1 and 2 above) ... I rarely use this alone, and use it more as check.

As said in previous years - "Only a crazy person would spend the time doing what I do in high school cross country" ... But deriving speed ratings for Dathan Ritzenhein and Cathy Schiro was an interesting exercise ... and I actually believe the results.




Developed and maintained by wmeylan@twcny.rr.com