Do you enjoy statistics? The history of the sport of prep cross country? We at XC Nation
do and this story will share some of the most important (in our minds) moments for this
sport. In 1973 'The Streak" began for Christian Brothers Academy HS, Lincroft, NJ, over
four decades later with 316+ consecutive dual meet victories in the bag Christian
Brothers Academy is recognized as the most successful program in prep cross country
history. What the Colts lacked to capstone their decades of dominance was a national
team championship. If you take the time to read this article in entirety you will learn a bit
about cross country history and gain a better perspective on the truly remarkable greatness that
2012 has brought prep cross country...ready, set, go.
Recap 2011: Entering Nike Cross Nationals, the officially recognized Meet of Champions for prep
cross country teams there was questions as to who would walk away as team champions. From
Texas came Southlake Carroll HS, Southlake, TX which had run 15:14.68 team average at the
Chili Pepper Festival and then dominated the UIL Texas State Championships with a 12-second 1-5
spread and 20-team points winning by over 90! At NXN South Championships the Dragon's
again dominated with 26-points, 15:55 team average and 29-second 1-5 spread. Who could stop
the depth and pack of the Dragons? CBA. The Colts likewise won the Shore Conference
Championships with 22-points and a 15:26 team average for 5000 meters with 25-second 1-5
spread. Christian Brothers then won the New Jersey Meet of Champions with 45-points and a meet record 16:04 team average over the challenging Holmdel 5000 meter course. After dominating NXN Northeast Championships by almost 50-points it appeared clear Christian Brothers Academy HS, NJ and Southlake Carroll HS, TX were on a collision course at Nike Cross Nationals. On December 2, 2011 Lincroft XC Club (Christian Brothers Academy HS, NJ) raced away with that elusive national championship defeating the Texas juggernaut Carroll XC Club (Southlake Carroll HS, Southlake, TX) by a mere 4-points. This race was an indicator of things to come as both teams were projected to return even better teams in 2012 and boy were the prognosticators correct.
We believe that history will reflect that the 2012 Christian Brothers Academy HS cross country team is the best "team" in the past 100 years and here is why.
History Lesson 101 "The Greatest": Over the past 40 years several "teams" have touted themselves as "greatest team all-time", in fact we have periodically declared a few this status. From 1972 and the incredible Lompoc HS, Lompoc, CA team led by Terry Williams which featured five sub 9:20 3200 meter runners (Terry Williams 8:51.70c; Jim Schankel 9:03.80c; Alvin Gilmore 9:11.78c; Jim Warrick 9:16.75c; Roger Fabing 9:17.75c). That team was entitled by Doug Speck as the "Magnificent 7" and greatest team of all-time. They set the Postal 2-mile and 3-mile records. In fact, only three teams have ever featured five runners faster for the 5x3200
meter distance (1974-75 Hammond HS, IN 9:05.40(Rudy Chapa 8:48c; Tim Keough
8:49c; Carey Pinkowski 8:54c; John Roper 9:24c; Dave Parker 9:32c); 1974-75 South
Eugene HS, OR 9:06.71(Bill McChesney 8:50.70c; Steve McChesney 9:00.84c; Seth
Brown 9:11.51c; John Gustafson 9:12.78c; Rich Harter 9:17.75c); and 1993-94
Mead HS, WA 9:08.20(Matt Davis 9:04; Skiy Detray 9:06; Rob Aubrey 9:07; Micah
Davis 9:07; Greg James 9:17)).
Then came the 1977 Deerfield HS, Deerfield, IL (Coach Len Kisellus) team which
completely redefined cross country "team" depth. The defending Harrier National
Champions, yes Marc Bloom was releasing The Harrier Magazine way back in the
mid-'70's!, returned a stellar team for a repeat of the national team title and they knew it. The top five, Keith Hampton 9:05.1;Todd McCallister 9:07.9; Mark McCallister 9:10.4; Tom Stevens 9:12; Dane Rutstein 9:16.4 were stellar. Three of the top ten team performances in US history came by this team in that season US#1 14:19.20 team average @ Suburban League Championships; US#4 14:29 team average @ District Championships; US#7 14:33.20 team average @ Lake County Championships. At the Suburban League Championships they ran the current national record 14:19.20 Todd McCallister won in a new course record 14:14 with twin brother Mark McCallister second in 14:16, Tom Stevens placed 3rd in 14:17, Dane Rutstein placed 4th in 14:19 and Greg Less placed 5th in 14:30. George Whitten finished in 13th in 14:57 and teammate Dan Schwartz rounded out the top seven with 15th place in 15:04. Deerfield won the Division meet in a SHUTOUT, without its #3 man Keith Hampton (eventual 7th place State meet), and with a 16-second spread from 1st-5th men overall. Dave Giles of Highland Park (16th in State three weeks hence) does not break into the Deerfield top 5!!!
Another group emerged as potential "best ever" candidates. The 1981 national team champion Carmel HS, IN (Coach Chuck Koeppen) averaged 15:16.66 at the Indiana State Championships with a 9-second 1-5 spread, in fact no team has averaged sub 15:30 as a team more than the '81 Greyhounds. They repeated as national champions in '82. The 1993 national team champion Mead HS, WA (Coach Pat Tyson) featured several Foot Locker finalists and perhaps the deepest crop of milers on one team ever. So deep was this team that the week before the state cross country championships they averaged five runners under 4:11 for the mile! This Mead team held the Woodward Park (where California State is run) meet record with a 77:22 total team time or 15:28.40 team average. A record which stood for almost 20-years until broken by 2010 Arcadia HS, CA (who we will get to later). The 1999 York HS, IL (Coach Joe Newton) team featured 8:42 3200 meter runner Donald Sage and a crop that dominated the Illinois State Championships with a meet record 24-points with five in the top 12-places and state record 14:31.40 team average which ranks US#5 all-time for the distance. That York
team was one of the elite all-time featuring the 5th fastest 5x3200m squad ever
(Don Sage 8:42; Adam Palumbo 9:06; Peter Cioni 9:11; Peter Stasiulis 9:17; Adam
Then came 2010 Arcadia HS, CA and all our notions of "best ever" changed.
The Arcadia Apaches stormed through the 2010 cross country season claiming
historical record after record. At the Stanford Invitational Arcadia averaged 15:16
over 5000 meters while scoring a meet low 31 team points and a total team time
76:17. At the Clovis Invitational held on historic Woodward Park Arcadia again
destroyed the meet record and the legendary 1993 Mead's total team time of 77:22 recording 77:09. The team averaged 15:25 and scored 62 points for the team victory. At the Mt. Sac Invitational Arcadia would further set themselves above history traversing the course with a new team record 75:16 total team time bettering the previous record by over a minute. At the Arcadia Invitational the team traversed the 3-mile course in an astonishing 72:23 total team time averaging 14:28.6 per runner. The team would perfect score the Arcadia Invitational with 15-team points (1. Ammar Moussa 14:13; 2. Sergio Gonzales 14:23; 3. Allen Leung 14:32; 4. Eric Garibay 14:37, 5. Ryan Vargas 14:38).At the California State Championships Arcadia would once again break the Woodward Park 5000 meter course record enroute to a state championship. Averaging 15:14.20 Arcadia recorded the second fastest team average at the time and total team time over a 5000 meter course in US history behind only the 1980 Bloomington North, Indiana 15:12.68 win at the Indiana State Championships. Arcadia would cap the season with a perfect record claiming the Nike Cross National Team Championship.
A now there is Christian Brothers Academy HS, Lincroft, NJ who has completely redefined the prep team experience with a season to remember and unlike any other. The first thing the Colts did to send up the "greatness" flag was winning the 2011 NXN National Team Championships with a largely underclassman team. The following spring the top five averaged sub-9:20 for 3200 meters (Jack Boyle 9:08.28; Tim Rooney 9:11.53; Aaron Liberatore 9:13.18; Mike McClemens 9:15.95; Billy Bragg 9:17.15), they return all five! The first team ever to return five sub 9:20 3200 meter runners and the first team in the NXN Championship era to be a threat to repeat.
When we look at a teams strength we look at the returning 1-5 3200 meter average (Postal Records)(Boys XC Records), we look at historical course records such as Woodward Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Holmdel Park, Bowdoin Park, Mt. Sac or Detweiller, we look at team average, points scored to strength of competition, front two runner consistency, and team spread such as the time disparity between the 1st and 5th, 2nd and 4th, 3rd and 5th, 1st and 2nd and 2nd and 5th runners. For example, no team has ever averaged sub 15:30 on any 5000 meter course and not either won the national championship or placed top five nationally. An incredible statistic but the most incredible statistic is winning when it counts.
The Greatest Season of All-Time (at least we think so): We had once thought the 2010 Arcadia HS, CA season might never be duplicated and in our humble opinion prior to this season we felt emphatically that the Apaches were the best team of any season at any time. That all changed. CBA opened their season at the Bowdoin XC Classic Christian Brothers Academy set a course record winning the 20-team meet with a perfect 15-points and 16:14.64 team average with 17-second 1-5 spread. Complete Results
The Colts then utterly destroyed the Great American XC Festival (we like to call pre-national championships) besting over six top 25 ranked teams. What made the win more impressive was who finished runner-up, US#9 St. Xavier HS, Louisville, KY who had previously dismantled US#8 York HS, IL (whose higher ranking is only due to York's top runner not competing in that head to head matchup) at the Palatine Invitational. CBA beat them by 88-points with a meet record 15:24.04 team average and 18-second 1-5 spread for the Wake Med Soccer Park 5000 meter course. (Jack Boyle 15:15.0; Billy Bragg 15:17.6; Michael McClemens 15:22.9; Aaron Liberatore 15:30.3; Tommy Rooney 15:34.4)Complete Results
The Eastern States Championships held annually at the Manhattan XC Invitational traces its roots back over 40 years. The 4K course has seen names such as Marty Liquori, Alberto Salazar, Matt Centrowitz, Edward Cheserek, Brad Hudson and many more legends traverse her trails. It is a benchmark of things to come and those who win or hold records there become legends of cross country lore. Christian Brothers Academy won by 106-points in a meet record 12:44.54 team average breaking the record set by 2004 eventual US#2 Fayetteville Manlius HS, NY 12:48.8. (Jack Boyle 12:25.7; Will Bragg 12:27.8; Mike Mcclemens 12:49.0; Tom Rooney 12:56.9; Fran Bogan 13:03.33)Complete Results
For a very long time we have used the 1980 Bloomington North HS, IN team as the benchmark for team average as they have held the fastest for 5000 meters at 15:12 when the won the Indiana State Championships and 1981 Carmel HS, IN as the benchmark for the term team spread, as we explained this team averaged 15:16 at the Indiana State Championships with a 9-second 1-5 spread. To us these two remarkable performances have stood out...until CBA surpassed them both. At the 2012 Shore Conference Championships the Colts won with a 6-second 1-5 spread averaging 15:08.67! A new national record! They scored 27-points to defeat 23-teams with what we regard the best team performance in any meet for a boys team in prep history and a national 5K team average record to boot. Even the 1-6 average and 1-7 averages are US#1 all-time! (Boyle, Jack 15:04.45; Bogan, Francis 15:08.32; McClemens, Mike 15:09.43; Bragg, Billy 15:09.98; Rooney, Thomas 15:11.13; Liberatore, Aaron 15:19.84; Kruppa, Josh 15:35.94)Complete Results
The New Jersey Group Championships were likewise impressive as CBA again broke their Holmdel course record with a 16:03.20 team average scoring 20-points and 6-second 1-5 spread. What impresses us the most about this
performances wasn't necessarily the historic team average record on a very difficult
course but rather the dismantling of US#12 Don Bosco Prep
HS, NJ. CBA placed all five scorers ahead of the Don Bosco #1 runner! Don Bosco is
Looking forward we project Christian Brothers Academy HS, NJ will claim a second NXN National Team Championship and stake claim as "the team" to which all teams will be measured for years to come.
But 2012 is so much deeper than one team emerging as the best. It signifies a change in the direction of our sport as we consider these the "Golden Years" of our sport. Whoever ultimately wins Nike Cross Nationals will do so against the most Elite field of teams in any year for the past 40 years. The contenders are as exciting as the defending champions.
Southlake Carroll HS, Southlake, TX - NXN South Champions
-Last seasons team finished 2nd at nationals by 4-points, this seasons team is better but may still find themselves runner-up @ NXN. The Texas State Champions dominated the NXN South Championships with a meet record 15:30 team average for 5000 meters. The 18-second 1-4 spread is top notch but what hurts the Dragons is the 4-5 gap. Earlier in the season the Dragon's won the Chili Pepper Festival with an impressive 15:27 team average for 5000 meters. As far as the record books go, this is the ONLY team other than CBA HS, NJ in US history to return 7-runners all sub 9:30 for 3200 meters. NXN South Results: Joe Sansone 15:12.8; Nate Sullivan 15:18.1; Connor Hendrickson 15:18.2; Trevor Gilley 15:31.7; Eli Canal 16:10.2.
American Fork HS, American Fork, UT - NXN Southeast Champions
-We've been touting this team as the greatest all-time from Utah and much better than any of the prior national championship Mountain View teams. This teams true potential is unknown as the Cavemen are running in uncharted water. Winning the NXN Southwest Championships with a US#4 all-time 15:14 team average for 5000 meters and 22-second 1-5 spread has positioned this team as the darkhorse which may upset for the national title at NXN. NXN SW Results: Brayden Mclelland 15:03.60; Connor Mcmillan 15:09.30; Tyson Green 15:11.50; Zac Jacklin 15:21.80; Caleb Thompson 15:25.50.
North Central HS, Spokane, WA - NXN Northwest Champions
-Won the WIAA State Championships with 15:47 team average for 5000 meters without top runner Kai Wilmot, then won NXN Northwest without top runner Wilmot on the course they defeated Arcadia on with a 15:47 team average! with Arcadia running faster than the US#4 team did last season. This team was favored as a potential upset threat at NXN but without Wilmot and his status unknown it is unclear if that goal may become reality. Should Wilmot compete this team should push the top teams to the limit as a team superior to the 2008 National Champion team. This is the one team, that with Kai Wilmot could challenge CBA runner for runner. NXN NW Results: Tanner Anderson 15:48.9; Keith Williams 15:53.1; Oliver Reed 16:13.1; Austen Frostad 16:16.6; Isaac Kitzan 16:21.6.
Davis HS, Kaysville, UT - NXN Southwest Runner-up
-Last years NXN darling surprised everyone by finishing 3rd after finishing second at both Utah State and NXN Southwest to juggernaut American Fork HS, UT. This seasons team is better than last years team but may have arrived in a year containing the greatest collection of teams in one-season in US history. Can the Darts pull the surprise again? NXN SW Results: Alex Hedquist 15:17.20; Brayden Cromar 15:27.30; Skylar Williams 15:31.20; Preston Johnson 15:41.90; Sam Haws 16:10.70.
Arcadia HS, Arcadia, CA
-The Apaches have been somewhat of a mystery having run an all-time best 15:26 team average @ the Apache Invitational and yet lose to North Central at Bob Firman (although NC with Kai Wilmot is a west coast version of CBA) and then rebound to win the CIF Southern Section Championships in a US#2 all-time team average over 3-miles 14:24! What makes NXN so interesting is that there is a chance that Arcadia is even better than the national championship team from 2010 and yet they may end up as 5th or 6th overall! CIF SS Results: Estevan De La Rosa 14:01; Mitchell Pratt 14:14; Phillip Rocha 14:19; Mahmoud Moussa 14:41; Bryan Ngo 14:45.
Highland Milford HS, Highland, MI
-Only two teams from Michigan have been better, 2000 US#3 Rockford HS, MI (maybe the best team in the nation as we doubt Mountain View HS, UT or York HS, IL from that year were better) and 2006 US#1 Dexter HS, MI who was ranked US#3 prior to Nike Team Nationals but due to their inability to compete were dismissed from the rankings all-together..this year's Milford squad is phenominal, running a 15:34 team average to claim the Lower Peninsula state championship. If a team has emerged from a non-NXN competing state that deserves to be recognized and further ignites the inclusion vs. exclustion debate its Milford. They deserve to be at NXN and we feel is the top team from the Midwest in the nation. If there is an NXN upset by any team ranked lower than US#5 Milford, it is highly probably that they will split the national title when final metrics are produced. State Results: Brian Kettle 15:07.3; Cody Snavely 15:16.7; Chris Housel 15:46.3; Matt Graves 15:47.6; Kevin Black 15:54.9.