Are the rankings really that bad??


With all there trash talking about our terrible team rankings here in Wisconsin I took a look at the D1 boys and girls results and here is what I saw. Out of the top 20 boys teams in the state meet the rankers picked 14 of them. Out of the top 20 girls teams the rankers picked 16 of them. All this is with knowing that some top 20 did not make it through and some 30 or 40 something teams did due to weak sectionals. In the boys race 6 of the top 7 teams were those picked by the rankers. In the girls race 5 of the top 7 were those picked by the rankers. Both Spash boys and Onolaska girls performed better than ranked. In the boys field after the champion Middleton was picked the team talent was pretty close so that on a given day anyone in the top 7 might have placed 2nd. I think this shows at least in D1 that the ranking despite all the rancor about them being terrible are probably 85% accurate. This of course are the final ranking of the season not the rankings of the already qualified teams. In the case of the boys I still feel Arrowhead and Neenah both had a shot at second had they qualified they just didn’t deliver at sectionals.


In my opinion the rankings could be better throughout the season. When we look at the season’s end, they look okay. But in the weeks leading up I see unjust rankings all the time. I especially dont enjoy the part when kids gear up to take on their rivals, beat that team head to head only for the precious rankings to not reflect that.

When coaches make a commitment they should commit 100%. If they cant hold it up pass it onto someone that can. Everything including the rankings becomes a territorial pissing match.


Zen I agree about the commitment and I for one am one of those who was not fully committed as I should have been. I probably ranked only 4 or 5 times during the season. So the rankings after the first one should be better than we are doing now. Some of the teams that made state were ranked during the season but were not ranked at the end. Again I think as much as it may represent “lazy” rankers it shows that in the top 30 teams there is parity where at number 25 team might upset a number 15 team and so ranking from below 10 gets tougher where team A beat team B in this invitational and then two weeks later team B beat team A in another invitational. I am sure a computer program of some kind that stored all the meet results during the season along with times could do a better job but then there are the meets where certain runners are sick, injured, just not running, tempo running so all those thing make for more difficult than ever ranking.

By the way Roman Y. from Middleton was sick for the state meet but will be back for NXN. Middleton could have knocked off another 10-20 points with him healthy at state. Incredible team right there with the great LaFollette team of a decade ago. Like I mentioned in another thread I think Arrowhead, Neenah, and everyone else in the top 9 teams could have finished second place on a good day for them so the rankings were dime one with the top 10. Maybe we should just have 10 ranked teams. I don’t see any other sport go that deep in the newspaper rankings and it would be less teams to focus on and research. To do a decent job ranking takes time and active coaches that might be teaching too just don’t have that much time.


I’m not sure what other states do for their rankings but I think we should only ran the top 10 schools and maybe include a few honorable mentions. I spend a bit of time looking through results from around the state and I compare head to head match ups. I know that my team was ranked ahead of several teams when we have been beaten by them. Often times we were not full strength and some coaches know that. I will spend time emailing and calling coaches for results. Mainly because I like the banter. So lets shorten the list and only rank the top 10 teams. Instead of having all the WCCCA members rank perhaps a small group of coaches from each division and gender should rank or at least look over the rankings before being posted. I do believe that the rankings get better as the season progresses.

I guess what criteria should be used when ranking teams?

Head to Head?
Course ratings and accuracy?
Times? Average times? Spread?
Wins/Losses? I know a number of teams that still use this method.
Who’s sick or injured? Missing runners?

Should we rank the divisions? Sectional? (I only cared what was going on with the two nearest Sectionals to be truthful) I can tell which teams are Strong-Average-Weak and I base it off of that.


I would agree by the end of the season they are better, but because I’m a homer, here are some issues with the current method as related to the school I root most strongly for…SPASH is ranked ahead of Sun Prairie the first few weeks of the season, beats Sun Prairie at Smiley, but a week later is ranked two places behind Sun Prairie. No injuries, same line-ups, all other things being equal…Then, a week or so later, SPASH beats LaFollette at Stoughton (as does Monona Grove). Next week, SPASH is ranked ahead of LaFollette, (but Monona Grove who finished two places ahead of Sun Prairie and one place ahead of LaFollette at Stoughton is ranked lower than either). And two weeks later, LaFollette pulls ahead of SPASH in the rankings again. Again, no injuries, same line-up.

I get that it is an imperfect measure, but you would think head to head match-ups would count more than just about anything else, other than known resting of most of the starting lineup the way Middleton did at the Stoughton meet.

And I disagree that any of the others might have beat SPASH on a good day. Looking at the final rankings of the state qualifying teams, SPASH beat every team they faced on that list (including Middleton :slight_smile: ) with the exception of Kimberly and Preble the first week of the season…


Our peripheries are too narrow using only a single faction of the sport. We continue to look UP to the WIAA and then again to them for answers to our problems but this may be the wrong approach for the greater good of the sport.

In the true sense of the phrase, the real power and beauty of the sport is in the eyes of the spectators. If enough of a spectacle exists (i.e. NXN or Footlocker) people will journey and attend, excellent performances will take place and honor will be distributed accordingly. The WIAA is equally bound by the people who participate in it and if they want to be unbound varsity sport models could equally move into more of a club setting. Although unlikely it is entirely possible. If there was a more innovative organizational body that rewarded runners people would most definitely follow it. But it has to be maintained at an unrivaled pace and not look back. The whole ensemble must literally be earth shattering with its function because once gone away from the WIAA it may not be welcomed back. Then we’d be at a dead end and the sport could die off altogether.

This is an interesting bottom-up theory versus a top-down theory currently being executed. It may indeed cultivate more interest on a local level. Could you get a couple coaches, a couple unbiased seasoned track parents / running veterans and subservient spectators to pool together and vote for every sectional? There are 26 sectionals in cross country and I really like that maintainable number.


Iowa does a great job of ranking teams. There are about 300 schools that field XC teams divided into 4 classes of which 15 teams get ranked on a weekly basis. The rankings are very important because they are used to develop the placement at districts (sectionals). The placements are made 9 days prior to the district meets. There are 5 districts for each class and the top 3 teams qualify for state. It is amazing how many times the top 15 ranked teams are the same ones that qualify for state.


There was a proposal a number of years ago based off of Iowa’s state qualifying procedure. The coaches where stuck on the rankings and not knowing their sectional well in advance.


Why is our state association so adverse to change. Unless it is adding multiple football and basketball divisions they seem to buck any logical positive change. They try to use unwritten rules(excuses) for not moving in a certain direction but has no problem doing so when it means additional revenue. Iowa’s system is logical, easy to implement and gives their regional representation and balance of power. For people making 6 figures to act as glorified playground supervisors it seems they could do a better job of running our sports programs. I do however blame some of the problem with our tournament structure and other advancements for cc on we coaches ourselves. As was mentioned by one of our CC reps. The cross country coaches as a group are THE most ineffective coaches association in the state. We fought the 5K for girls and then the WIAA pulled a hook and ladder end run play to ram the 5K in. As we look at that now it was the right thing for the girls and the sport maybe a tournament restructure would be the same.


Being a harsh critic about the proposal of using rankings to determine sectional placements, I need to concede that the end of the season rankings weren’t completely horrible. But prior to conference week, some of the rankings are completely ridiculous.

Especially for D3 girls - who no one seems to care much about except a handful of coaches. As an example, a couple years ago a team (who had performed well in the past) that didn’t even field a full sqiad at a single race that year, was ranked for SIX weeks in a row!! It was so frustrating to see such blatant errors in the standings. But I guess when only a handful of coaches (literally) vote, inaccurate results happen.


Yes there have been some doozy over sights in the rankings over the years. I think their should be a twitter page or something of the sort where oversights like what you are referring to can be posted for the rankers to be aware of. Also things like a certain team holding out runners or injured/sick runners. The rankings used to seed would be the ones at the end of the season about 2 weeks before conference. Iowa does their seeding 9 days away from sectionals. Football in Wisconsin is done after the conference season so any excuse that these things need to be done 7 months ahead for cross country are ridiculous. I am not sure having an army of coaches ranking makes it better as I think a handful of coaches from all parts of the state could do a pretty good job if done with care. As Zen has said and others to do a good job takes time and effort and research to do it well. Much now is past reputation especially the first rankings but times and meet results soon make the ranking pretty good at the end. My recommendation is go back to the top 10 instead of twenty as having that many to rank makes it much tougher to research. This year in boys D1 there was one clear favorite to win and be #1 ranked, after that the next 8 or nine were all capable of taking the silver ball. Looking at Spash I think that they were the weakest runner up I have seen in D1 in several years.
16:38-16:45-16:51-16:55-17:06 - What they did have wasn’t flashy but they put 5 guys within 28 seconds and nobody including Middleton did that so it shows that if you can get 5 guys in D1 going under 17 minutes you will have no problem breaking into the top 10 teams in the state and probably higher but you have to not only be there but be able to deliver that at Ridges on state meet day. I might add that there were teams that didn’t make it to state- Arrowhead, Oconomowoc, Neenah maybe other that could have on a good day equaled what Spash did but they weren’t there.


You mean they beat Middleton’s 2nd string and MG was without Giftos yet I believe. Not to demean Spash but you must admit the difference between teams 2-8 was not very much and there were teams that didn’t make it to state that could have beaten Spash. Arrowhead, Oconomowoc, Neenah. But the fact is Spash delivered when they needed it at sectionals and state and kudos to them for that.


You saw the smiley after the Middleton comment, right? That being said, Giftos WAS at Stoughton, AND at the Ridges, but still MG finished behind SPASH. SPASH beat Neenah the week before the state meet. Handily. I don’t believe Arrowhead or Oconomowoc would have beaten SPASH either, because they couldn’t beat teams that SPASH beat the following week. So yes, while I agree the field was more even than some years after first place, I think your “if they’d had a good day” comment implies either that those teams DIDN’T HAVE a good day at the Ridges, or SPASH had an outstanding day. I just don’t think that either implication is accurate.