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, November 26, 2019

I'm Not Going To Tell Him It's Not OK To Cavort With Buckeyes, Are You?

We took Ryan Whiting into the Nittany Lion fold when he decided to train in State College and become a volunteer coach for PSU.  That led to some wonderful things with a multitude of throwers at Grand Ole State.  And although Ryan never did grace our Golf Tourney with his 350-yard drives he promised me, we didn't hold it against him when he moved away.

Now, of all things, Joe Kovacs has settled into Buckeye territory and even married a local.  And she became his coach AND elevated him back into the stratosphere of shot putters!  My bet is that his blood still has a blue hue no matter how many buckeyes fall into his yard.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

How Did Those Predictions From The Math Wonk Turn Out?

The Penn State Nittany Lion Women's Team placed 18th in the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute yesterday!   That's 5 straight top-20 finishes.

18 Penn State 482 53 60 111 118 140 185 209 Total Time: 1:47:19.00 Average: 21:27.80

In our previous post, we supplied predictions from 5000 simulations of the race by a "washed up grad student" .  Which Nittany Lions outperformed against the predictions?  How about the 8 Big Ten teams that make the trip to Terre Haute?

Well, 2 runners outperformed their predictions:

  • Alison Willingmyre  Predicted finish 108th,  Actual finish  73rd   +35 
  • Megan Ciasullo  Predicted finish 194th,  Actual finish  177th    +17
And as for the Big Ten Teams, only 1 team overperformed their predictions, while 6 underperformed and 1 came in just as predicted.

  5.   Michigan State     Predicted  4th      -1
  7.  Wisconsin              Predicted  7th      *
13.  Michigan               Predicted  5th      -8
18.  Penn State             Predicted  17th    -1
19.  Indiana                  Predicted  22nd   +3
22.  Illinois                   Predicted  15th    -7
23.  Ohio State             Predicted  16th     -7
28.  Minnesota             Predicted  26th     -2

Friday, November 22, 2019

How Will These Predictions Turn Out For The NCAA XC Championships?

These predictions were meticulously made by a "washed-up grad student" in a recent post on the message boards of LetsRun.com

He must have had a lot of time!

Cross Country Rankings

“Cross. . . country. . . time is relative” – Albert Einstein
These rankings are calculated using the following algorithm:
  1. Gather all of the meets which the teams in the region competed in. For each pair of meets, use the individuals who ran in both meets to evaluate the difference in their speed.
  2. Use least-squares to get an overall adjustment score for each meet.
  3. Gather the teams from last year’s regional results and form their top 7 from their most recent results. SOME TEAMS DID NOT RUN THEIR TOP 7 IN THE MOST RECENT MEET. IF THIS IS THE CASE FOR YOUR TEAM PLEASE EMAIL ME AND I WILL FIX IT. (bmazaher at caltech dot edu)
  4. For each member of a team’s top 7, adjust all of their performances according to the meet’s score.
  5. Average each runner’s performances over the season. More weight is given to recent performances. More weight is also given to performances whose adjustment is more certain.
  6. Rank all of the individuals in the meet and score the simulated results.
Interpret the results in the following way:
[Place] [Time] [Time behind leader] [Uncertainty of time] [Name] [School]
The uncertainty of the times is in seconds. That is, someone with a “time behind leader” of 30 and an uncertainty of 10 will likely run between 20 and 40 seconds behind the winner.
I have copied the Penn State top 7 predictions using 5000 simulations:
  1. Kathryn Munks    30th      (24th-62nd)
  2. Alison Willingmyre   108th    (88-131)
  3. Danae Rivers    112th     (94-151)
  4. Julia Paternain    137th    (98-153)
  5. Megan Ciasullo  194th  (157-214)
  6. Kileigh Kane   219th    (192-248)
  7. Julia Guerra     238th   (200-247)
And here's the Team Scores for all the B1G teams:

  • 4th   Michigan State    (4-6)
  • 5th   Michigan     (5-8)
  • 7th   Wisconsin     (6-10)
  • 15th  Illinois      (14-19)
  • 16th  Ohio State    (14-19)
  • 17th   Penn State   (15-20)
  • 22nd  Indiana    (19-25)
  • 26th   Minnesota  (22-28)

Monday, November 18, 2019

It Always Ends Up In An Interconnected Web

So it was the NCAA Regional XC Weekend at Lehigh, and the Nittany Lion Women won their race to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the 10th time in 11 years.

1. (AQ) #18 Penn State, 73
2. (AQ) #28 Villanova, 77
3. (RV) Georgetown, 91
4. Princeton, 93
5. West Virginia, 122

But I was much further north in Canton NY for the Division III Regionals with Daughter the Younger.  It was 14 degrees at the start and the whole course had to be plowed earlier in the week!

Daughter the Younger

In the Mid-Atlantic Division III Regional at Lehigh, two other Penn State Track Alumni Golfers had daughters competing.  Well, Rob Whiteside's Daughter the Elder and friend of the group's Martha White Collins's Daughter were competing.

Phoebe Whiteside placed 28th for All-Region Honors for Swarthmore and Valerie Collins was the 5th runner in 42nd for Carnegie Mellon's qualifying team.  Smart and talented!


And as we learned 4 years ago, Rob and Phoebe had hiked a substantial portion of the Appalachian Trail with Valerie Collin's Uncle.  I'm telling you, there's always a web!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Coach Groves Started In The Army

When Coach Groves missed his first ever Penn Relays after Elementary School because he was in the Army, he started a track team. Then in his second year of service they went to the Relay Carnival!

Coach really started his coaching career at Army before heading to William and Mary and PSU. 

Thank you to all who served. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Physics Post: Either Way, Schrodinger's Cat Is Plotting To Kill You

It's what cats do between sleeping 20 hours a day.

As to whether the cat is alive or dead in the box, some real brainiacs now have figured a way to tell without opening the box!

 I'm hoping our Endowed Erwin Schrodinger Chair for Advanced Physics, Ron Moore, will chime in about this one, but he may not.  He has been hanging out with his Wolverine Friends.

Also, the smartest person at my recent Podiatric Seminar was the Physicist who presented a lecture on radiation safety.  And he had rave reviews for what other Physicists are doing with Proton Therapies (targeted radiation treatment for cancers), such as our beloved Chair Holder.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Another Singlet Update

Mark Le faucon de' orange Hawkins just reported that the Singlets and T-Shirts are now at the printer in State College.  So Mark will soon be sending them out!

This was the biggest ever sale, with 45 shirts being sent out to Alumni (Golfers) all over the country from years 1970 to 2019!  Quite a few of them will be at the Olympic Trials next year where Nittany Lions have a very good chance of making the team in a number of events.

I will take this opportunity to thank Mark profusely for doing all the work involved without making a big deal about it.  But all of you know that it is a big deal.  Be sure to thank him yourself whenever you can.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

An Improbable Win

How can a team that came in third in the District 6 Championships and failed to advance to the State Championships end up winning it all in the State?  Can't happen, right?  (LetsRun.com thread HERE)

Wrong, because it just did this weekend.  And Penn State Track and Field Alumni Golfer Jayson Jackson helped make it happen.  He coaches the St. Joseph's Academy XC team in State College.  And even if the girls' team failed to advance to the State meet, 5 of the team members did make it on the individual requirements to make the trip.  And 5 runners make up a scoring team, so...

According to the rules of the PIAA, they count as a team in the scoring.  They then went on to run the races of their lives and not only beat both District 6 teams, but every other team in the single-A race, and climbed to the top of the podium!  Notice that Mark Haywood's Camp Hill team is third.

The coaching reach of Harry Groves extends to its 4th or 5th generation!  Well done.

 1 St Josephs Cath (6)      93    4   19   21   22   27            
  2 Marion Center (6)       116   14   18   23   29   32   49   59 
  3 Camp Hill (3)           119    9   13   17   37   43   64   73  

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A Trip To States, A Birthday Card, And I Break One of Coach Groves' Favorite Rules

I made it to the PIAA Championships for the first time in many years.  I saw a few friends and missed many others.

Group Friend Henry Klugh and Franklin.

Coach Artie Gilkes and Hannah Humphreys
And PSU Great Curt Stone's 97th birthday is next week.  Greg Fredericks has a plan to send him a big birthday card from us.  I figured everyone should send a greeting to Curt on our Facebook Page and we will include them with a nice greeting from the entire group.

Finally, I purchased a new pair of running shoes from The Inside Track vendor (Henry Klugh's store between Hershey and Harrisburg).  They happened to be a pair of the most talked-about shoe in the world, the Vapor Zoom Fly.

After my first 2 runs in them, I can assure everyone that they do indeed have springs in them (a series of carbon plates in the midsole).   This reduced my heart rate by more than 5% during my treadmill runs at the same miserable speed I have been running all along.  This, of course, violates a rule that Coach Groves holds above nearly all others.

The Marquess of Queensberry rules were adopted long ago for the sport of boxing.  Coach Groves somehow has adopted them for use in running and general life and discussed them many times with me.  Officers of the Group even adopted them for use by our Annual Golf Tourney.  (For those unfamiliar with mirth, this is all tongue-in-cheek!)

One of the rules is that springs are not allowed in boxing shoes!  It remains to the brainiacs of the sport to decide whether they are in running shoes.

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