Saturday, October 24, 2015

Reconfigured Top PSU Mens Cross Country Runners Of All-Time

It took the Mathematics Intern much more time to perform the meticulous calculations to arrive at the final results of our exercise in divining the best of the best among all Penn State Cross Country runners of all-time than anyone had postulated.  In his defense, the intern is unpaid and subject to a world which is way more complicated than it should be. Anyone wishing to contribute to the coffers of the poor intern can contact me...

In review, here are the original criteria for the list:

The (Original) Criteria:
  1. All PSU runners finishing in the top 20 of an NCAA Championship Meet are included.  This, of course skews the results toward the old-timers.  Back before 1973, any team could enter the race, and there were far fewer teams and runners overall. And it ignores someone who placed 21st in 4 straight Championships! Now that would be one Heck of a runner.
  2. Points are awarded in a reverse order of their finish.  A 20th place finish is worth 1 point and a first place finish is worth 20 points.  This skews the results toward those that run in multiple NCAA Championships. But placing high still means the most.
  3. Tiebreakers: a) # of appearances in NCAAs top 20 and  b) most recent to oldest.
Our New Criteria are then superimposed upon this original list.  The new criteria involves a weighting in an effort to incorporate the competitive strength of each year's race.  Of course any criteria such as this is somewhat subjective and can cause arguments and discussions on its suitability. This is welcome! It is difficult to precisely measure whether a race in 1952 was as difficult to finish in the top 20 as compared to a race in 2006.  But a reasonable estimate can be made simply by noting the number of finishers in the race and compensating for it as compared to a standard number.  In this case the standard is the number of finishers in 1970, the year with the greatest number of runners.

New superimposed Criteria:
  • Each year's finishing point total from earlier is multiplied by a factor defined as:

# of Finishers in Race Year (x)
# of Finishers in 1970 (305) 


Here's the Original Top Ten Runners of All-Time:

  1. Robert Hollen - 17th 1951, 7th 1952, 6th 1953 for 33 points.
  2. Curtis Stone -  7th 1942, 2nd 1946 for 33 points.
  3. Alan Scharsu - 19th 1979, 7th 1980, 6th 1981 for 31 points.
  4. William Ashenfelter - 8th 1950, 4th 1951 for 30 points.
  5. Eric Carter - 9th 1985, 4th 1987 for 29 points.
  6. Gerald Karver - 9th 1942, 6th 1947 for 27 points,
  7. Norman Gordon - 11th 1941, 5th 1942 for 26 points.
  8. Horace Ashenfelter - 19th 1946, 2nd 1947 for 21 points.
  9. Greg Fredericks - 4th 1970, 20th 1971 for 18 points.
  10. Paul Stemmer - 5th 1975 for 16 points.
  11. William Smith - 5th 1938 for 16 points.
And the New Top Ten Penn State Mens Cross Country Runners of All-Time:

  1. Alan Scharsu - 19th 1979, 7th 1980, 6th 1981 for 22.2 points.
  2. Greg Fredericks - 4th 1970, 20th 1971 for 17.9 points.
  3. Eric Carter - 9th 1985, 4th 1987 for 17.1 points.
  4. Paul Stemmer - 5th 1975 for 14.1 points.
  5. Curtis Stone - 7th 1942, 2nd 1946 for 12.1 points.
  6. Robert Hollen - 17th 1951, 7th 1952, 6th 1953 for 11.0 points.
  7. Horace Ashenfelter - 19th 1946, 2nd 1947 for 10.5 points. 
  8. Gerald Karver - 9th 1942, 6th 1947 for 10.0 points.
  9. William Ashenfelter - 8th 1950, 4th 1951 for 9.6 points.
  10. Robert Snyder - 9th in 1978 for 9.5 points.
Robert Snyder 1978.

Paul Stemmer 1975.

Alan Scharsu 1978.

Greg Fredericks 1970.

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