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coach
10-24-2012, 02:50 PM
why are the CIF rankings that prepcaltrack publishes differ so much from milesplit or athletic net?
who checks that the calculations have been done correctly? and which rankings are the 'official' ones used by CIF?
milesplit and athletic post their 'formulas' to double check their rankings, where can we find prepcaltrack's?
thanks

Coach AM

Chad Scott
10-24-2012, 04:55 PM
Coach AM- The rankings done by PrepCalTrack are done by Rich Gonzalez and are the official set of rankings used by CIF SS for at-large berths to CIF SS Prelims as well as the rankings used for seeding the CIF SS Prelims heats. Rich has been doing this for MANY years and analyzes teams across the state, over a variety of courses. As the rankings get closer to the end of the season, they become surprisingly accurate. That is because the rankings cannot always be boiled down to a specific number. For example, this year our team got hit with the quadruple whammy for invitationals: ACT Sept 8 (Fastback Shootout), Homecoming Sept 15 (Woodbridge), SAT Oct 6 (Central Park and Clovis), and PSAT Oct 20 (Mt. SAC). So Rich looks for things like guys missing, a guy who has been in a spot for weeks and has a bad race due to illness, teams that structure training and always have a tendency to peak at the end, etc. I'm sure Rich uses some kind of database that helps him make informed decisions, but there are no specific "formulas" that can always boil down a ranking to a precise number...there are too many variables.

In case first-timers are reading this, this topic comes up about every two years. This is the way CIF SS does it and there are no plans to change it; Rich does a good job. As an aside, I would love to be a fly on the wall when Rich gets together with whomever (probably Hal, Bob, Tim, and some others) to do the seeding for prelims. The would be so much fun to just listen to their analysis. Or maybe it is just Rich on a Saturday morning with a pot of coffee.

Hope that information helps.

-Chad

coach
10-25-2012, 09:44 AM
Coach AM- The rankings done by PrepCalTrack are done by Rich Gonzalez and are the official set of rankings used by CIF SS for at-large berths to CIF SS Prelims as well as the rankings used for seeding the CIF SS Prelims heats. Rich has been doing this for MANY years and analyzes teams across the state, over a variety of courses. As the rankings get closer to the end of the season, they become surprisingly accurate. That is because the rankings cannot always be boiled down to a specific number. For example, this year our team got hit with the quadruple whammy for invitationals: ACT Sept 8 (Fastback Shootout), Homecoming Sept 15 (Woodbridge), SAT Oct 6 (Central Park and Clovis), and PSAT Oct 20 (Mt. SAC). So Rich looks for things like guys missing, a guy who has been in a spot for weeks and has a bad race due to illness, teams that structure training and always have a tendency to peak at the end, etc. I'm sure Rich uses some kind of database that helps him make informed decisions, but there are no specific "formulas" that can always boil down a ranking to a precise number...there are too many variables.

In case first-timers are reading this, this topic comes up about every two years. This is the way CIF SS does it and there are no plans to change it; Rich does a good job. As an aside, I would love to be a fly on the wall when Rich gets together with whomever (probably Hal, Bob, Tim, and some others) to do the seeding for prelims. The would be so much fun to just listen to their analysis. Or maybe it is just Rich on a Saturday morning with a pot of coffee.

Hope that information helps.



-Chad

yes it helps... so who provides Rick Gonzalez with updates on the teams. I am positive every team has challenges like the one you describe, every school has SAT, Homecoming, injuries, etc.
Is there a database where coaches go and write down their 'circumstances' so even out the playing field for all teams?

Hal Harkness
10-25-2012, 10:23 AM
Chad,

You nailed it, the seeding for Prelims is done entirely by Rich. You were kind to mention the rest of us, but in reality only Rich has the knowledge and experience to do the rankings and they are the best resource we have to balance the competition between heats in a division. There is no perfect system, but this is as close as we can get and it is confirmed each year by the prelim results.

Keith Chann
10-25-2012, 10:31 AM
so who provides Rick Gonzalez with updates on the teams. I am positive every team has challenges like the one you describe, every school has SAT, Homecoming, injuries, etc.
Is there a database where coaches go and write down their 'circumstances' so even out the playing field for all teams?
I know that you don't know me but I have been doing my own rankings for my personal use since 1998 (sometimes I share them) and I can ***ure you that Rich is as thorough as anyone you will meet. There is not a database where coaches can list issues or challenges but Rich looks into all of the necessary teams to determine who ran and who did not. He looks at all kinds of variables to determine the team strength and then has a vast array of course conversions, based on years of data, to be able to compare times from many different courses. Is it a perfect system? No, but it works extremely well as has been shown repeatedly each November.

Coach Razor
10-25-2012, 10:48 AM
Just want to second what Keith and Chad stated :)

Tim Sharpe
Head Coach XC
Distance Coach T&F
Harvard-Westlake School

"To whom much is given, much is expected"

Doug Soles
10-25-2012, 10:53 AM
Without a doubt, Rich's rankings are as accurate as I have seen by anyone. He is consistently spot on with the data and often checks with coaches when he is unsure of something. Nobody else could step in and be near as accurate in my opinion. Just look at the results at prelims each year, he almost always nails the results in his rankings.

Keep up the great job Rich!

Martin Pennell
10-25-2012, 11:13 AM
I have a few questions about the current CIF D1 rankings. How does Burbank get ranked over Simi Valley and M.L. King when both of those teams beat them head to head? The same thing happened on the girls side too. Crescenta Valley beat Fountain Valley head to head and yet FV is #8 and CV is #12?

Keith Chann
10-25-2012, 12:54 PM
"I have a few questions about the current CIF D1 rankings. How does Burbank get ranked over Simi Valley and M.L. King when both of those teams beat them head to head? The same thing happened on the girls side too. Crescenta Valley beat Fountain Valley head to head and yet FV is #8 and CV is #12?"


Martin,
Burbank seemingly was without their normal #4, Huezo, who has been running close to their #3. With that factored into the scoring Burbank probably wins the heat or comes in 2nd, ahead of King and Simi Valley. If that is taken into consideration, then I could still see Burbank ranked ahead of both of the other squads. Not an exact science but reasonable given the information available.
I have no idea about CV vs FV on the girl's side but could be a similar case. You would certainly know more than me in that regard.

Martin Pennell
10-25-2012, 05:16 PM
Martin,
Burbank seemingly was without their normal #4, Huezo, who has been running close to their #3. With that factored into the scoring Burbank probably wins the heat or comes in 2nd, ahead of King and Simi Valley. If that is taken into consideration, then I could still see Burbank ranked ahead of both of the other squads. Not an exact science but reasonable given the information available.
I have no idea about CV vs FV on the girl's side but could be a similar case. You would certainly know more than me in that regard.



Yeah I hadn't done any research into the Burbank squad so I was thinking something like that could be the case. As far as our girls go, we were at full strength. I wonder if Rich just switched the Fountain for Crescenta as they are both "Valley" schools.

coach
10-26-2012, 09:27 AM
Yeah I hadn't done any research into the Burbank squad so I was thinking something like that could be the case. As far as our girls go, we were at full strength. I wonder if Rich just switched the Fountain for Crescenta as they are both "Valley" schools.

===============================================
I am a new to the California circuit, so I appreciate all the replies and education.
In NY we have a formal ranking system, that is visible to all, Milesplit.
in my new role in CA High Schook, I was going by the Milesplit ranking and in that ranking my school is in the top 10.
In PCT my school does not show up in the list.
I have my top two runners injured, and based on the criteria of how these rankings are put together, nobody has contacted me about my exceptions, or have accounted for them, yet they will show at league finals, run and move up on Milesplit rankings.

I would like to hear from the schools/teams that are not in the PCT rankings, yet show up in milesplit or athletic rankings.
How can they be in the most formal and oficial ranking in the country
Those are the schools that feel the sting of how PCT creates the rankings which CIF uses to determine their ability to move forward
It sounds as if the PCT rankings are created/calculated based on what a team "might" potentially do, based on personal knowledge of a few runners injured or missing... and not on what they are currently doing (running).
I am seeing schools in the top 10 that based on results from this season have not performed to the same standard as prior years... yet they are in PCT rankings, not in milesplit, not in athletic net... are the rankings wishful thinking? or based on prior year performance? I am also seeing teams that are not ranked in PCT top 10 that should be there.
why doesn't PCT list the runners used in the calculation with their actual/projected time and scoring criteria so every coach can see what the ***umptions are, so one can see and or challenge the method. milesplit and athletic do this.
while I appreciate all the work that is being done in this site, and all the years of experience, and the year may end up 'right on' or 'very close' but it lacks clarity as to what ***umptions were used, that are different from milesplit or athletic net.
good job though, is this group is comfortable with the rankings.
thanks for your time.

Keith Chann
10-26-2012, 10:41 AM
In California, I am not sure anyone looks at milesplit or athletic.net rankings. I had no idea that they even existed. As far as I can see now milesplit only ranks the national top 25. Do they also have California specific rankings and/or divisional rankings?
Athletic.net only has meets for which data has been provided to them. They are very limited in California data. ANy service that has Palos Verdes at #8 and St. John Bosco at #5 is incredibly inaccurate. MAdera South is a Division 1 school but ranked #1 in California D3 by athletic.net.
Trust us, go with the CIF rankings done by Rich to get a more accurate picture of the teams.

bbrierly
10-26-2012, 11:29 AM
As much fun as it is to discuss rankings and the likes, they are and will always be just someone's opinion. That person, or group of people, can be well-informed and have a strong grasp of how it will all shake out, but in the end it is still an opinion.

Every year, Rich does an amazing job. At times, sure we can gripe, especially when it comes to CIF-SS Prelims seeding, but overall we are merely nitpicking. The only way that rankings can affect anything would be if you're team is a super tough league and trying to qualify for CIF-SS Prelims, where you need to be ranked twice within the top 13 out of the last 4 polls. Otherwise, who cares where you are ranked? Again, it only has a small affect on seeding for Prelims, but most years there is something like 80-90% of ranked teams that qualify for Finals. And most of the time, the ranked teams that don't make it are the lower seeded teams where it always comes down to the simple fact, did your team compete they way they needed to on that one day and did any other team outperform/under-perform?

Matt Bell
10-26-2012, 04:50 PM
Having followed this group for a few years, if there was any discomfort with the rankings it would be expressed.
Particularily now that more coaches are back participating in the site.

Ed Winczowski
10-26-2012, 08:54 PM
Geez, I forget which ranking they were, but a few years back one of them had North Hills (PA) ranked extremely high in the country. Heck, I think it was around 13th. Regionally I believe they were third. They had a three guys under sub 9:20 back, which of course is excellent. Bummer for the rankers as they were then informed that the 4th and 5th fastest runners on the team were twin girls and 19:00ish. How is that for the OLD, don't believe everything you read on the internet?

Chad Scott
10-26-2012, 10:01 PM
The fallacy is the ***umption that milesplit and athletic.net are doing it "correctly." This is what we use in CA and the Southern Section. We like it.

"...nobody has contacted me about my exception..."

You will be taken A LOT more seriously if you use a real name/identify what school you are from. Maybe then people would know who you are...

Keith Chann
10-27-2012, 08:03 AM
I am beginning to think that "Coach" is just someone looking to stir up conversation.

Torres BHDP
10-27-2012, 12:18 PM
I don't know... Maybe coach has a point...I had a chance to check out these milesplit rankings and we're ranked 18th in the state (all divisions)... Nice!!! I am now going to conveniently forget that I saw Carlsbad (and their 76:30 Mt. SAC time) ranked 34th... :confused:

coach
10-29-2012, 09:57 AM
I am beginning to think that "Coach" is just someone looking to stir up conversation.


I take offense to this reply.
Simply because you, Keith Chann, are in the "group" and know how the calculations came about, does not mean any individual who questions the method wants to 'stir' things up. There should be nothing to 'stir up'.

I was under the impression that this was an open website, for all California teams, not a handful.
As such, the method and definition of how a school is ranked should be transparent to everyone, not just a few.
Say what you will about Milesplit or Athletic.net, even joke about it. They may or may not be the most appropriate and/or reliable rankings, (as it has been pointed out to me several times in this thread), yet, both sources are very clear on how ranking were developed.
I appreciate that California schools and/or "we" like how PCT does the rankings, which I am taking away from, but it seems to be a black hole ranking system. I merely asked WHY these rankings are different from Milesplit or Athletic net and all i got was, they are right on, we like them, this is how we do it. As a matter of fact, PCT has not even replied to my original post.
All I got was a lot of support and emotional replies, but no reply from PCT.

Great... I will adapt. I can adapt to the california way... now, can someone please explain how the rankings are done.
Can you please post or create a tab that explains how ranking are determined/calculated, and what is the source of this data.
Are they determined by a scoring of events/races, are they calculated on athletes time, PR? what is the magic formula, so I too can learn the California way.
I am interested in DIV III.
Thank you very much.

coach
10-29-2012, 09:59 AM
Chad, my name is clearly on the profile, and by the way, it should not matter what school/team I am from... I have a valid question.
You can take me seriously, or not, it doesn't matter.
Lets not forget why we are all here, the athletes. My team has a question as to why on Milesplit they are ranked #10 and in CPT they are not even in the ranking.
thanks

Coach Razor
10-29-2012, 10:39 AM
Coach,

First, I think the answer to your question, in summary, is that while any ranking system is undoubtedly flawed, those who have been coaching in SoCal for some time all trust that Rich G. knows the most & does the best research and has proven over time to be the best at rankings. This is why the CIF uses Rich's rankings for the 'At Large' berth process for CIF Prelims... and is as good an indicator as any of the trust Rich has by the community. I think most of us don't consider the other rankings by Milesplit and such to be nearly as accurate or inclusive.

Second, I too attempted to look at your profile and found no indication of your name... Perhaps I did not do it correctly, but here's a pic of your info page & mine as contrast:

3839

Hope folks don't mind me speaking for them, but I can vouch for the character of many of the coaches who posted and that are all very much 'athlete first'... And good people. I'm not trying to say you are not, but since you are new to the area, listening & trusting those that we trust is a good start :)

ClemDog
10-29-2012, 10:55 AM
I take offense to this reply.
Simply because you, Keith Chann, are in the "group" and know how the calculations came about, does not mean any individual who questions the method wants to 'stir' things up. There should be nothing to 'stir up'.

I was under the impression that this was an open website, for all California teams, not a handful.
As such, the method and definition of how a school is ranked should be transparent to everyone, not just a few.
Say what you will about Milesplit or Athletic.net, even joke about it. They may or may not be the most appropriate and/or reliable rankings, (as it has been pointed out to me several times in this thread), yet, both sources are very clear on how ranking were developed.
I appreciate that California schools and/or "we" like how PCT does the rankings, which I am taking away from, but it seems to be a black hole ranking system. I merely asked WHY these rankings are different from Milesplit or Athletic net and all i got was, they are right on, we like them, this is how we do it. As a matter of fact, PCT has not even replied to my original post.
All I got was a lot of support and emotional replies, but no reply from PCT.

Great... I will adapt. I can adapt to the california way... now, can someone please explain how the rankings are done.
Can you please post or create a tab that explains how ranking are determined/calculated, and what is the source of this data.
Are they determined by a scoring of events/races, are they calculated on athletes time, PR? what is the magic formula, so I too can learn the California way.
I am interested in DIV III.
Thank you very much.




I have been following the rankings done by Rich since 2005 and I still don't know what his exact system is. I will say that they are done very well, but I don't know if they necessarily have any math basis. They seem to be a mix of information based on conversations with coaches and results from head-to-head match-ups. I follow rankings much less these days because they ultimately have no bearing on how I coach, but I still enjoy looking at them, just so I can prove Rich wrong every once in a while ;). I don't think we need speed ratings and all that noise for high school cross country. When you get down to it, these are kids and sometimes they run really well, and sometimes not. So a team with a really good speed rating can still lose and an underdog can still win from time to time.

Now let me contradict myself and say that with respect to at-large berths, rankings are very important. In looking at the past several years' results from prelims, I have to say Rich's rankings are pretty good. Maybe there should be more transparency just to eliminate the questions for teams ranked 14th and 15th. So, if Rich gets the time (yeah right, the dude is busy as a bee), maybe he will fill us all in. However, we might all be disappointed to find out that the rankings come to Rich like the book of Mormon to Joseph Smith in the South Park Mormon episode. No offense intended Mormon friends, but it was a pretty funny episode.

Matt Holden
10-29-2012, 12:29 PM
Hi Liam,

I think the issue here about a math basis is a valid topic to bring up. As far as I know, Rich does not have a magic formula for his rankings. He appears to take team/individual time results, personal bests, injuries, head to head match ups, and course difficulty into account, and then uses his human intuition (and many years of experience) to rank based on this info. Why not just plug and chug? The problem is that courses vary so much and do not necessarily vary the same for boys and girls, and the superstars and the average runners. A bad day on one course can lead to a disastrous time, while on another might only lead to a mediocre time. It would be impossible to just set up a time formula. One thing that is in fact the most interesting is that the mean time differential between courses does not give the full info. The differences between times at two courses vary in their mean but also vary in their standard deviation. In adition to considering course difficulty by formula like this would be the logistics of it all. There are hundreds of XC courses all over the state and not enough data to make good conversions between them (this is because 1 - the data is sparse, and 2 - there is the added complication of time variance). If everyone reported their results in a central database with complete info about the course and schools and individuals competing over several years, perhaps we could attempt the project of going with statistical course differentials.

Perhaps some day we will have the data for math based rankings but for now, Rich's intuition is more accurate

-Matt

ScottJoerger
10-29-2012, 12:35 PM
why are the CIF rankings that prepcaltrack publishes differ so much from milesplit or athletic net?


Coach,

Can you provide a link to the MileSplit or Athletic.net rankings? I can't find them and I'd love to take a look.

Thanks

Chad Scott
10-29-2012, 12:51 PM
Scott,

At first glance, MileSplit appears to take the top seven times from a team and create an aggregate race, and then score that race. Hmmm, Westlake isn't even in that system. Yep, accuracy at it's finest!

At athletic.net, again it simply lists the best time an athlete has run. I feel bad for Loyola in those rankings :( They are so bad they don't even show up! See Rich, I guess you should drop Loyola ;)

These rankings do not appear to take into account the variety and difficulty of the courses, when these mark were set, if athletes on the list are out due to injury, how teams traditionally run later in the season, etc.

Rankings will come out in about an hour. If we are in it, cool! I will put a smile on my face. If not, it's not a big deal. The rankings are an affirmation to the teams and are a way for good teams in stacked leagues to get out. In 2008, the 8-team Marmonte League had 6 teams get to CIF Prelims. We have D1-D3 schools in our league, so if they are good enough to be ranked they can move to prelims. Other than that, they are just a number.

ThreeTrees
10-29-2012, 01:07 PM
I really have to come out on Coach Clemons side on this one.

This is a great site. Rich should be inducted into the California cross country hall of fame for what he has done that last 20 years, if that hasn't happened already (sorry for my ignorance). So should a lot of the other coaches that routinely post here.

But . . . let's not kid ourselves. While Rich has tried to be unbiased, this site as a whole is not unbiased. This message board in particular (or should I say this and the prior incarnation of the message board) has a tremendous amount of bias. It's pro-certain teams over others; pro-coaches in general at the expense of the athletes; pro-established order over any meritorious change; and pro-CIF. And despite what some have said, not all of the coaches (in particular on this thread) are here for the kids.

When you raise a legitimate issue, many of the pro-[fill in the blank from above] attack you like you're carrying the plague. "Show yourself you coward who dares to question the established order." There was a theme on this thread. What if you're not part of the in-group? What if you coach a team and you don't think Rich understands the nuances of your season, or your training, or what your kids are capable? What if some other teams are consistently given the benefit of the doubt, but your team is not? What can you do to change that? Can you message Rich? Don't know. Is there some way to raise awareness? Don't know. It is as some have suggested a black hole. So, if it is a black hole, how do you make your voice heard?

The bias here is not necessarily bad!!!! A little bit of bias, given all the good that comes out of this site, is perfectly acceptable. I was somewhat amused that a team formerly coached by one of our most distinguished retired coaches held such a lofty ranking for so long this year. Why? Still not sure, but in the end it was fixed. The bias is even more acceptable when it relates to something so trivial as the rankings. And as an aside, I think Rich's rankings are generally superb. He's quite likely the most knowledgeable in the sport and the best we have to rank the teams (no disrespect to Tim or Hal or anyone else intended). But is it a system that can be improved? Of course. Are the rankings infallible? Not possible.

But this site is great for the sport. So, improve on things . . .

Chad Scott
10-29-2012, 01:16 PM
Best of luck to everyone on League Finals and hopefully onward. I, however, am done with this thread.

ScottJoerger
10-29-2012, 01:23 PM
Thanks Chad - I wouldn't call those rankings - those are hypothetical race calculators based on VERY limited data. We are only in the MileSplit data because someone uploaded Clovis.

I get the point that it would be more "fair" to have a formula. But as was mentioned before, even with a formula there are a ton of variables that would need ***umptions such as course difficulty, etc. I think it would be unfair to have a pure formula based system. At some point you need a human being who knows the sport to bring some sanity to the process. Rich is arguably the most knowledgable in the sport, and he's not biased to any team. I've been following our teams in and out of the rankings (right now we're out) and I'm usually in agreement with Rich within a couple spots. That's my 2 cents.

Tony DiMarco
10-29-2012, 02:10 PM
I have tried very hard to stay out of this since it was first posted but I can't resist any more! I have been doing a league top marks list for a few years now and I score it so that I have a good idea of where my team stacks up in all levels going into our league meets. I update marks weekly with what I feel each team did on each course. (So I'm already a step ahead of milesplit and about with athletic.net) :cool:
With that said, it is pretty worthless on race day! As Liam said it means nothing on the line because we are dealing with kids not machines. I have never cared about rankings because they really don't mean much unless everyone is running at 100% at that stage in the season. How many teams really do? So if Saugus girls don't run a race in September does that mean they shouldn't be ranked??
Rich takes the data from each course (using some type of conversion chart he must have that I would love to get my hands on) then checks to see who didn't run that week or who had an off day and based on that data makes an educated guess (I hate to use the word guess since I'm sure it is far more than that) on how that team is running and where they belong in a hypothetical race... I stress the word "hypothetical"!
Now do I always agree with Rich? NO! A few years back my team was ranked 6th in CIFSS D2 going into the final three CIF rankingsÖ We finished 4th in league and fell out of the top 10 for 2 of the final 3 and did not make CIF! Yes, I was upset but looking backÖ as much as I hate to admit itÖ he was right. We didnít deserve the ranking anymore and we didnít run well when it counted! I sometimes think Rich knows our team better than we doÖ
Bottom line is this. I havenít seen a ranking yet that was perfect and I donít think there is such a thing. Rich comes closer to the truth than any of these other web sites ever have and he does it year after year after year! I have never heard of a deserving team (except mineÖ :rolleyes:) being left home from their league meet and if there has been one or two Iím sure it had more to do with the team and less to do with the ranking. After league, rankings donít mean anything anymore! Itís all about what you do on that given day! Good Luck ALL! I look forward to the challenges ahead!

Rich Gonzalez
10-29-2012, 03:15 PM
Will probably have a little bit of time by tonight to write a short story on the rankings process, as well as details on a real hair-raising division this year in which some very good teams will be stuck at home earlier than expected.

Am locking this thread as well, as a couple of individuals have already broken one of the policies of the message board when they registered.

Thank you.

Rich