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Peter Brewer
10-29-2012, 10:16 PM
Well, I never got a chance to get my 2 or 4 cents worth in . . . here I was, scrolling through a thoroughly enjoyable thread about rankings and transparency and anonymity and Rich goes and shuts it down before I can even start to formulate a reply. I guess I need more face time with my laptop. Still . . .

From my perspective here in the San Francisco Bay Area, eavesdropping on the SoCal chatter is always interesting. Since our humble little North Coast Section does not rely on rankings to get to the section meet, the reliance on those rankings does not immediately register on the outside observer. So here in our tree-hugging enclave, we tend to use rankings as more an amusement, or perhaps at the worst some narcissistic indulgence if our team is having a good year. I must say, I could not find any California State divisional rankings on Milesplit, nor could I find any rankings at all on athletic.net. As a former compiler of rankings for my area, I know just how arbitrary it must all seem. That is, until you or anyone else wants to plow through reams of results looking for comparisons and trends from dozens of races. It may still be ultimately arbitrary but is not by extension whimsical or capricious.

Doug Speck, the godfather of California state rankings, repeatedly counseled against using his rankings as anything more than focused speculations. Walt Van Zant of Wilcox calls his CCS statistical compilations "comparisons" and shuns the consideration of them as rankings. Rankings are not equal across the board. Formulas have yet to be created to handle the variables that factor in. Experience in observation is as much a valid criterion as any other descriminator. What I'm getting at here is that there is no absolute method. That however does not invalidate the product.

Peter Brewer
Northgate High

Doug Soles
10-30-2012, 06:21 AM
Peter,

Very well said as usual! :)

One of the things we should all be reminded of is that rankings are not required to make it to CIF in the SS. Each one of our teams has an opportunity to qualify for CIF outright from our league. The rankings are a "bonus" for teams in very difficult leagues, but they still had the opportunity to qualify without the rankings. Years ago I coached a D3 team in a league with mostly D1 and D2 schools and I can tell you that to qualify we had to be really on our game. To me it wasn't an equal opportunity to qualify since our divisions were not the same, but we had no choice but to up our game to make it out or stay home. Since then CIF has given the "bonus" option through Rich's rankings, and more good teams have been able to make it to CIF than before. It is something we should be thankful for, not ungrateful about. The rankings are some teams 2nd opportunity to qualify to CIF, not their first. That needs to be remembered.

Coach Razor
10-30-2012, 07:14 AM
Peter & Doug

Perfectly stated gentleman...

I too appreciate having the "bonus" method of Prelims qualification as the Mission league is pretty tough & includes D2,D3, & D4 teams. We are a D4 team & can sometimes lack the depth to overcome injuries & illness when they arise. That said we never depend on it, and we have yet to need it (knock on wood!)

While I enjoy rankings, their importance I think can be over valued. I appreciate being in a competitive league as it challenges us to raise our game... Here's to all of our programs acheiving at the highest level they are capable of this post season! :)

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

"To whom much is given, much is expected"

Albert Caruana
10-30-2012, 07:54 AM
For a long time, Crystal Springs Uplands School was part of NCS and any team that wants to compete at the section meet is welcome to do so (as Peter mentioned above). Personally I think it's great and looking at the amount of teams that qualify from NCS to state, it is a system that works. Now that we are in CCS, the qualifying is a bit different. You can qualify to CCS by being in the top half of your league. If you are the only team in your league representing a division then you automatically advance. Finally, you can also qualify to CCS by running faster than the at-large team times on 3 possible courses (Crystal Springs, Toro Park and Pinto Lake) at your league finals.

Has using at-large team times been considered in the SS? What other methods have been brought up before?

Keith Chann
10-30-2012, 08:41 AM
If I remember correctly, there used to be a team-time at-large situation for advancing from the Southern Sectionbut that only lasted for a couple years.
In truth, the SS is so large that there are too many leagues to make this feasible. THere are just too many different courses that leagues use to get an accurate conversion for each one.
In Southern Section D3 alone there are about 110 school, so allowing anyone who wants to enter is not an option. Until football no longer controls which leagues schools are placed in, we will continue to have multi-divisional leagues and sometimes have problems in certain teams advancing out of tough leagues. In the Southern Section, the rankings are not only used to possibly get some teams into CIF-SS Prelims but also for seeding purposes. It may seem trivial but can have an impact on advancement to Finals based on the number and quality of teams in the heats.

Martin Pennell
10-31-2012, 12:00 PM
If I remember correctly, there used to be a team-time at-large situation for advancing from the Southern Sectionbut that only lasted for a couple years.
In truth, the SS is so large that there are too many leagues to make this feasible. THere are just too many different courses that leagues use to get an accurate conversion for each one.
In Southern Section D3 alone there are about 110 school, so allowing anyone who wants to enter is not an option. Until football no longer controls which leagues schools are placed in, we will continue to have multi-divisional leagues and sometimes have problems in certain teams advancing out of tough leagues. In the Southern Section, the rankings are not only used to possibly get some teams into CIF-SS Prelims but also for seeding purposes. It may seem trivial but can have an impact on advancement to Finals based on the number and quality of teams in the heats.

The only year we had the At-Large time from SS to State was 2001. In Div 1 you had to run 80:10. That race proved to be the biggest fiasco I've ever encountered. Canyon CC was a runaway winner that day and we (El Toro) were comfortably in 2nd at the top of reservoir just ahead of LB Poly. My #1 then proceeded to collapse on the airstrip and lose upwards of 40 places. In the end we ran 80:10.1 and missed auto qualifying by 1 spot. We were told the time standard was 80:10 not 80:10 and change. The #2 team in SS and probably CA that year didn't make it. To make matters worse the next team behind us (Canyon Springs I believe) did run under the time standard but was not allowed to go because we beat them on points. I'm sure they realized the time standard was a Pandora's Box they preferred not to keep open.

Matt Holden
10-31-2012, 01:13 PM
The only year we had the At-Large time from SS to State was 2001. In Div 1 you had to run 80:10. That race proved to be the biggest fiasco I've ever encountered. Canyon CC was a runaway winner that day and we (El Toro) were comfortably in 2nd at the top of reservoir just ahead of LB Poly. My #1 then proceeded to collapse on the airstrip and lose upwards of 40 places. In the end we ran 80:10.1 and missed auto qualifying by 1 spot. We were told the time standard was 80:10 not 80:10 and change. The #2 team in SS and probably CA that year didn't make it. To make matters worse the next team behind us (Canyon Springs I believe) did run under the time standard but was not allowed to go because we beat them on points. I'm sure they realized the time standard was a Pandora's Box they preferred not to keep open.

Why not a time standard at any of the 10 or so historic courses in CA. If it is achieved at any point during the XC season, you get an at-large bid.

Keith Chann
11-01-2012, 08:56 AM
Why not a time standard at any of the 10 or so historic courses in CA. If it is achieved at any point during the XC season, you get an at-large bid.

I am a strong believer that you earn a post-season berth as a team during the league competition, for cross country. Allowing teams to hit some magical time during the season would then take away from the league competition. There are over 75 leagues in the Southern Section which allow qualification for a huge number of teams to CIF post season competition. Each year there may be a couple of teams that do not advance based on league results but that is a very limited number.
There is a major philosophical divide amongst coaches regarding the purpose of the post-season competition. Neither side is wrong, it just depends upon your personal philosophy. Just because they are different does not make one right and the other wrong.
1) Some coaches believe that the purpose of the post-season is to reward teams for success during the regular season and therefore, teams that win, or place high in league competition, should get to advance to CIF prelims.
2) Some coaches believe that the purpose of the post-season is to determine a champion of the division and therefore only teams with a reasonable chance to challenge for the podium should be in the post-season competition.

Both sides have their virtues and their problems. Every year we will get coaches, usually from the Southern Section, that complain about schools from other sections that qualify who appear to be far inferior to teams that are left out. This arguement gets to the 2nd philosophy regarding the purpose of the post-season. The method of advancement, I think, depends on the purpose of the races and therefore we will never get all coaches to agree.

Coach Razor
11-01-2012, 10:27 AM
A quick 2 cents...

There are those of us coaches that believe the proper way to train is a season where one peaks at the end or post season. This means training through the seasonal races and not always feeling your best. This is in exchange for better times at the end of the season. The physiology of endurance training dictates this is the best way to do things based on the research available today. Therefore putting too much importance on seasonal races can take away from what I believe to be the proper training method... That's at least where I stand today :)

xcbreak
11-01-2012, 06:14 PM
I am a strong believer that you earn a post-season berth as a team during the league competition, for cross country. Allowing teams to hit some magical time during the season would then take away from the league competition. There are over 75 leagues in the Southern Section which allow qualification for a huge number of teams to CIF post season competition. Each year there may be a couple of teams that do not advance based on league results but that is a very limited number.
There is a major philosophical divide amongst coaches regarding the purpose of the post-season competition. Neither side is wrong, it just depends upon your personal philosophy. Just because they are different does not make one right and the other wrong.
1) Some coaches believe that the purpose of the post-season is to reward teams for success during the regular season and therefore, teams that win, or place high in league competition, should get to advance to CIF prelims.
2) Some coaches believe that the purpose of the post-season is to determine a champion of the division and therefore only teams with a reasonable chance to challenge for the podium should be in the post-season competition.

Both sides have their virtues and their problems. Every year we will get coaches, usually from the Southern Section, that complain about schools from other sections that qualify who appear to be far inferior to teams that are left out. This arguement gets to the 2nd philosophy regarding the purpose of the post-season. The method of advancement, I think, depends on the purpose of the races and therefore we will never get all coaches to agree.

Although I understand your idea about earning your way through league, you must remember that our leagues are put together based mostly on football. We have teams in our league with only 500 students and they have to compete against schools with over 2500. So I am glad that they use the rankings for at large bids, although it is not perfect I think it evens the playing field some.