Results from the Altoona Igloo invt.

PIAA- Track and Field
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Re: Results from the Altoona Igloo invt.

Postby wickedcrossover » April 12th, 2009, 6:52 pm

All very good points. I especially liked the reference to Mock and Spooner (two state champions in distance running) running exceptional times in the 800. What would be really convincing for your side of the argument is to reference a couple of sprinters and their times in the 800.

Ps. Once a Runner, they've recently released a re-print of the book. Was $200. You can get it for $16 - $17 on amazon.



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Re: Results from the Altoona Igloo invt.

Postby once a runner » April 12th, 2009, 7:25 pm

I knew I should have sold my extra copy of Once a Runner while I had the chance!

A few local examples on the other side of the coin would be Donaldson, Podlesnik and Clement. I don't know what Donaldson's 100 was, but I'd be shocked if he wasn't at least 11.3. Podlesnik started out running the 200/400 before moving up to the 800 later in his soph. year and the 1600 during his junior year. He ran 50-51 in the 4x400 and low 23's in the 200. Clement was a sprinter most of his career. He often ran the 100/200/400 for Windber. He was a sub 2:00 in the 800, but moved up to the 1600 very late in his career. Another guy who probably wasn't as fast as the guys noted above was Snyder of McConnellsburg. I saw him crank out some 52's in the 4x400 as well.

These guys are classic cases of runners who could have done very well locally in the sprints, but chose to move up where they all had success on the state level. I would have loved to have seen what Donaldson could have done in the 1600.

USATF, could you tell me what coach to who you were referring about moving sprinters to the 800? If you don't want to post it online, please send me an IM. I'm curious.

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Re: Results from the Altoona Igloo invt.

Postby wickedcrossover » April 14th, 2009, 11:41 am

Ah, excellent examples. However, I don't know if Donaldson would have been any more dominant dropping down in distance. His 400 was around :49, his 800 around 1:55 and his 200 @ 23. I doubt that he slowed in the final 100 of the 200, so I would tend to believe that he'd have trouble breaking 12 for the 100. I could be wrong. I would think though that with trial and error, the coaches would have figured it out.

Podlesnik is a great example of a low 50's 400 runner being able to move up in distance and excel. I believe that to be fantastic tribute to the kid for doing the work and to the coach for recognizing the potential.
His soph year he ran 1:58 in the 800, but his junior year he dropped that to 1:55 in. Also in his jr yr he won the 1600. Now that race (2006 1600) supported your argument that when a race comes down to the final 400 the fastest is going to win. But that race panned out perfectly for him. It went out alow and stayed slow until the final 400 when Podlesnik just took it over. Still 4:18 is not all that great of a time to win states. I don't think that he ever hit that time again in his sr yr. He also ran his 1:55 800 in the same state meet and I don't think he ever matched that again. I could be wrong.

Now my last post on this topic will be my sticking point. Ouch!

The AA PIAA state championship record holder in the 1600 is Paul Vandergrift at 4:02.
The AA PIAA state championship record holder in the 800 is Paul Vandergrift at 1:52.
It is a miler that holds the 800 record not a 400 runner.

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Re: Results from the Altoona Igloo invt.

Postby WPIAL~Titan » April 14th, 2009, 2:14 pm

Here's my take on the 800m...

In my opinion, a good 800m runner must possess a combination of sprint speed AND some strength to carry that speed over 800m. Howeever, I will say that at the NATIONAL AND WORLD CLASS LEVEL, good basic spring speed is THE MOST ESSENTIAL ELEMENT to running a fast 800m...In other words, a world/national class 800m runner will in all likelihood be stronger as a 400m than as a 1500m runner.

Here are three examples of runners who I consider to be the 3 best 800m runners ever...

Sebastian Coe ran high :45.xx for 400m and held the 800m world record from 1981-1997 at 1:41.72. Coe had EXTRAORDINARY range, as he also ran 3:47.33 for the mile and 3:29 for 1500m.

Wilson Kipketer broke the world record at 800m in 1997, running 1:41.11, but also ran a pretty quick :46.8 for an open 400m, and aplit low :45.xx on a 4x400 relay. Kipketer's best mile was only 3:59 and his 1500m was only 3:42...

Joaquim Cruz from Brazil also had a fast 400m PR, splitting :45.xx for 400m, while running 3:36 for 1500m, which equates to a 3:55 mile. he ran the 3rd fastest time ever at 800m, 1:41.77, and a bunch of time at or below 1:43...

Coe was unbelievable with his range, as later in his career he ran low 14:00 for 5000m, and broke 3 hours for a marathon.

On the other hand, Steve Ovett, the 1980 Olympic champ at 800m ran :48.xx for 400m, and "only" 1:44 for 800m...Ovett was a great "racer", and didn't possess the superb sprint speed necessary to put him in the upper echelon of all-time greats at 800m. Ovett also held the WR at both 1 and 2 mile in his career.

I think that these runners demonstrate that having good basic sprint speed over 400m translates to a better 800m than having great endurance.

LET ME DIGRESS A BIT...

Sam Bair from Shaler Area HS (2004) is the best HS male 800m runner the commonwealth has ever seen.

Sam does not hold the PIAA Meet record, HOWEVER, a little known fact is that Sam ran the fastest 800m ever by a PA HSer AS A JUNIOR in HS, running 1:50.38 at the Butler HS Invitational in early April of his Jr. season. I think that this ended up being the 4th or 5th best time in the USA by a prep that season, and the #1 time in the USA by an underclassmen that year.

Probably even more impressive that evening was that 90 minutes after running that extremely fast 800m, Sam took the baton on the 4x400 relay anchor about 15 yards behind and absolutely WALKED DOWN Steve Breaston from Woodland Hills (You know him, don't you football fans???? You know, "Heisman Candidate Stevie"/"Super Bowl Stevie") running a high :47.xx anchor leg...Better yet, just after dusting Breaston, Sam turned to him and immediately congratulated him on a great race...I seriously doubt if StevieB would've done the same thing had the situation been reversed, he would've been too busy pounding his chest...

Sam held the PIAA AAA record at 1600m for a few seasons, running 4:09. The record was broken by Craig Miller, who is now running for Wisconsin.

Sam and his family happen to be good friends of mine. I had the good pleasure of presenting Sam in his induction into the Shaler Area School District Athletic Hall of Fame last fall.

Sam ran high :47.xx for 400m, 1:50 for 800m, and 4:09 for 1600m in HS.

In college, Sam ran 1:49 for 800m, 3:41 for 1500m, and 4:00 for a mile (translates to 3:58.xx for 1600m.)

At Pitt, Sam was a 4 time D1 All-American, twice indoors in the mile, and twice outdoors at 1500m. He was an is a phenomenal runner, and a fine young man, who is still working at running and who well this past winter indoors at 800m, clocking 1:49 and qualifying for the USATF Championships. I still see and chat with Sam and his father quite often, as they live right down the street from me.

I can't help but wonder how much faster Sam would've been in HS had he not had a stress fracture and missed his senior season of track and field. I think he would've seriously challenged Vandegrift's PIAA 1600m record.

Speaking of Paul Vandegrift...I was right on his tail at the 1 mile mark at the PIAA AA XC Championships back in 1985 at Lehigh University. We went out in 4:55. Well, Paul kept on going and won the race in some ungodly fast time like 15:20, while I finished 18th.

The best 800m runners have excellent long-sprint speed at 400m, moreso than excellent endurance. End of story.
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Re: Results from the Altoona Igloo invt.

Postby once a runner » April 14th, 2009, 8:29 pm

Very good post Titan. Guys like Vandergrift, Spooner and Craig Miller are unique talents who possessed the ability to run long distance (all were state champions in CC) and run near 1:50 in the 800. I'd bet that they could all run under 50 or at least 51 in the 400. The one thing ALL great 800 runners possess is speed. You can run a great 800 and not be a great distance runner.

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Re: Results from the Altoona Igloo invt.

Postby wickedcrossover » April 15th, 2009, 9:49 am

Wow Wpial, what's up with the big bold print? I was going to walk away from this subject until I saw that. It's like a little kid. Did you stomp your feet when you typed that, also?

Let me reiterate that I do believe that speed is important to managing a quality 800 time. I, however, believe that endurance is every bit as important if not more so. So far all the posts seem to bear that out. The high school athletes refernced so far that have put up the most dominant times in the 800 seem to be more proficient in the 1600 or the 3200 than the ones refernced who had quality times in the 400 and 200.
Even your post, WPIAL, tends to bear that out.

First of all, your post regarding the elite runners that you mentioned is irrelevant to this discussion because they were elite runners who were well advanced in their running careers. In other words, at a totally different level than we're talking here, thos runners encompass a wide range of events. Heck, a lot of HS 3200 runners go on to be marathon runners. This must be due to their blazing 3200 speed. Also, you conveniently neglected to expand the range of races that they competed in. That is was Coe more dominant in the 100 or 200 versus the 3K, 5K or 10K. You Know the answer.

Secondly, your reference to Vandergrift (congratulatins on medalling at states by the way) also drives home the importance of endurance. You, unwittingly, reinforced the 800 AA state record holder's status of being an exceptional distance runner. You took him from the 1600 the whole way to the 5K, thank you! Quite different if you have said he nipped you at the finish in the 400 running a :47.

Third you bring up Bair, maybe the best miler from western PA. Man talk about supporting the endurance side of the argument. Sure he put up some impressive 400 times; but a :47 in the 400 is not nearly, no way, not even close to the impressiveness of a 4:09 1600. Then you proceed to state that he bacame an all american in the 1500 and the 1600. Why not the 400? It appears to me that Bair is more of a miler than a 400 man and that endurance played a vital role in his 800 time.

Remember this debate is about who makes the better 800 runner, a 400 runner moving up or a 1600 runner moving down. Although, good arguments from both sides, it appears that distance guys moving down in most accounts are the better ones. I do belive that both speed and endurance are important. Maybe that's why it's called speed endurance.

Finally WPIAL, there's a kid from your neck of the woods, Balwin HS, who fits the type of runner we're talking about. His name is TJ Hobart. He finished 2nd in th 16 last yr as a jr running 4:12 (he matched that time as a soph also). He supposedly split a :47.? in the 4 x 400 and split a 1:53 in the 4 x 800. So far this year his coach is running him in the 3200 (9:34). This seems to be an attempt to improve his endurance. I think he has a good chance of taking down Miller's mile mark this year.

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Re: Results from the Altoona Igloo invt.

Postby WPIAL~Titan » April 15th, 2009, 3:30 pm

Hobart is excellent...I have seen him run...Very talented kid. In my opinion, he may be a little overraced (ie-seems to run too many meets)...I predict he won't break 4:10, but I could be wrong.
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