20th Annual Penn State Track and Field/XC Reunion

And SAVE THE DATE! The Executive Committee meeting of the Officers of the Group convened and chose the dates for the 2022 Reunion and Coach Groves Golf Tournament. This will be the 20th anniversary of the formulation of this whole shebang, and you better SAVE THE DATE!! So set aside May 13th and 14th, 2022. (Each year will alternate between May and August) We will be going all out for this event and you won't want to miss it. Adult beverages, camaraderie with old and new friends, mediocre golf, AND LIVE MUSIC FROM PROFESSIONALS! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is Penn State the Number 14 Most Powerful All-Time Cross Country Program in the Nation?

The good folks at the web site Faster Than Forty recently undertook the task of answering the question of which NCAA Division I Cross country Programs were the most dominant or excellent.  This task, of course, was met with many arguments on the web site LetsRun.com, where anarchy tends to rule.

There are many places to begin an argument, but they lay out their criteria in a dispassionate enough way and follow through with a detailed Excel spreadsheet for everyone to download and see the data.  My only gripe with it is that they begin their analysis in 1960, as that is the year that qualification for the NCAA Championships began.  This necessitates eliminating the great PSU teams of the '40s and '50s when PSU helped herald in the entire sport of College Cross Country.  Maybe these years shouldn't count as much, but not counting at all seems arbitrary and wrong.  Don't get me wrong; I still applaud their efforts and you haven't seen me trying to do all the hard work they did.

There are others amending and manipulating the data to accentuate one aspect or another with some minor and major changes in the rankings.  The back and forth seem to me a lot like the arguments of whether Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron or Albert Pujols is the best baseball player of all-time.  I suppose it 's all dependent on what you accentuate and what you dismiss.  The powers-that-be will always put more evidence on "what have you done for me lately'.  Is Galen Rupp a more excellent runner than Horace Ashenfelter III was?  I think you get my drift.  (For the record, I think Babe was the greatest ballplayer and I'll take Horace as the first runner in my fantasy cross-country team!)

An interesting side note emerged from the data after I stared at it long enough.  At Number 13, just above Dear Ole State, was William and Mary, the Program that Coach Groves took from obscurity to prominence before migrating to Happy Valley.  I was ready to ask the question, "Is there any other Coaches of 2 or more Schools in the top 20?"  The answer was YES, another PSU great, Steve Walsh!  He has run for Number 14 PSU and has coached Providence (Number 4) and William and Mary (Number 13).

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