Nike Team Nationals 2005
Dec 3, 2005 at Portland OR

NTN REGIONS: Northeast | Southeast | South | Midwest | Heartland | Southwest | Northwest | California |


Regional rankings - How they're done

The NTN Regional Rankings are the basis of the NTN team selection process. The top two teams in each region at the end of the season will be invited to compete in the Nike Team Nationals in Portland Dec. 3. The third and fourth place teams in each region are considered for the four national at-large selections. Here's how the weekly rankings process goes. The three main factors are competition, timing and format.

by Rich Gonzalez

PORTLAND -- We're racing toward Portland!
         With the release of the first in-season Nike Team Nationals regional rankings, excitement begins to escalate as the always nebulous preseason rankings (based on large part of the returning athletes from last year's performance data) give way to rankings based on actual 2005 competition results, affixing more credibility to the updated lists. A fair amount of reshuffling has already occured in some regions, although the bulk of the major competitions carrying greater significance are approaching in the weeks to come.
          Berths to NTN will be wholly based on results, with participation in any meets that are structured in such a way as to maximize their analytical value to the Rankings Committee being considered of prime importance. The NTN Committee's research and selections will gravitate towards those squads that have maximized their credentials in regard to each of three key weighted areas while allowing all squads from all states a fair chance to qualify.

Here are the ranking factors, in order of importance:

  1. STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Teams boost their prospective stock by participating in events where the highest competition available to them is faced, thus giving the Rankings Committee the ideal setting to weigh a team's abilities. 'Highest competition', in this case, is defined as facing multiple NTN-ranked or state-ranked opponents head-on in a competition, with greater weighting given to performance against the NTN-ranked teams over state-ranked teams. In the absence of NTN-ranked teams in states where perhaps out-of-state competition is prohibited, performance analysis versus state-ranked teams is used. A team does not necessarily have to beat an NTN-ranked team to improve its standing, as in some cases shoring the gap that exists between one's own team and a top-ranked team can be viewed favorably as well. Seek the competition (either inter-state or in-state) when it is available. It's the quickest and most credible avenue to get noticed and improve one's standing.
  2. PERIODIZATION: The competition season is viewed by the Rankings Committee as three distinct phases in relation to weighting... early-season, midseason and the stretch drive. The early-season phase is the first four weekends of the national calendar, which carries into the weekend of September 17th. The mid-season phase (in actuality the late-season and end of season for some states) also spans four weekends and carries from the weekend of September 24th to the weekend of October 15th. The stretch-drive phase includes all competitions AFTER October 15 AND any state meets that may occur prior to October 15th. Performances achieved during the early-season phase carry less weighing compared to performances achieved during the mid-season and late-season phases. The weighting granted to performances during the latter phases are almost identical as there is a littany of high-end competitions across the nation conducted during Phase 2. Unlike NTN 2004, where a 'blow-up' by any team at its final meet was virtually the "be all end all" to its chances, the 2005 NTN format keep does the window slightly open for any team that unequivocably shows during the biggest meets of the year to be worthy of perhaps an automatic berth, but then undergoes a freak setback (key scorer falls and DNFs, etc.) and hits a subpar performance at the worst time. Any team in such a situation would obviously have to have shown true dominance within its region during the course of the regular season to keep its hopes alive.
  3. COMPETITION FORMATS: An additional factor carrying less weighting but nonetheless considered in the overall selection structure is the format by which a team's top performances are achieved. Full credit is given for meets where the best teams run head-to-head in a single race. Meets contested by flight (#1 runner vs #1 runner, #2 runner vs #2 runner, etc.), or meets where the top teams run in separate races will be given slightly less weight. Full weighting is given to courses at least three miles in distances.

         Prospective NTN squads are encouraged to seek out competitions that fulfill these three criteria. For informational purposes only, major meets in 2004 were reviewed by the NTN rankings committee and given weighted scores against the criteria. The following meets received the highest scores.

2004 NTN "SuperMeets"
based on NTN Rankings Committee Criteria
Name of Competition
Rating (100 max)
Great American XC Festival
Cary, NC
Stanford Invitational
Palo Alto, CA
Jim Danner Invitational
Portland, OR
Roy Griak Invitational
St. Paul, MN
Mt. SAC Invitational
Walnut, CA
Nike South Invitational
The Woodlands, TX

          Any meet in the nation can achieve a high score by considering the three criteria. Meets with high scores provide the NTN Rankings Committee with the best tools to accurately rank teams in their region. Keep in mind that there is no assurance that the six meets above will have the highest ratings again in 2005. Other meets may emerge or existing meets may even choose to refine their current formats to give participating teams a better chance at fulfulling the key qualifying criteria. Teams that are able to find such competitions improve their chances of being recognized by the committee under ideal conditions.
           The actual selections process to award NTN berths involves a panel comprised of all regional editors, a five-person Rankings Management Committee, and two non-voting members-at-large. Those teams best satisfying the three criteria and finishing their seasons with a flourish are those squads putting themselves in the best position to qualify.
            See you in Portland!


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