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Thread: CIF rankings

  1. #21
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    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:

    Coach PCT ScreenShot.jpgMe PCT ScreenShot.jpg

    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
    ----------------------------------------------------
    "To whom much is given, much is expected"

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

  2. #22
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    Cool Rankings method

    Quote Originally Posted by coach View Post
    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.
    Liam Clemons
    Director of Cross Country
    Head Distance Coach
    Trabuco Hills High School
    D-1

  3. #23
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    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

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by coach View Post
    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

  5. #25
    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.

  6. #26
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    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 . . .

  7. #27
    Best of luck to everyone on League Finals and hopefully onward. I, however, am done with this thread.

  8. #28
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    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.

  9. #29
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    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)
    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 ) 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!
    Last edited by Tony DiMarco; 10-29-2012 at 03:14 PM.

  10. #30
    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
    "Cross-country is an individual sport. Succeeding in cross-country is a team sport!"

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