We won't know exactly what the state meet will look like until the end of next week, but here are some possible match ups and team races to watch/think about until then:
The Distance Shuffle
Because four distance events is too much of an advantage (but eight sprint events outdoors isn't), distance runners have to choose between running either the mile or the two mile (could you imagine telling sprinters to decide between the 100 or the 200 because you can't do both?). Every year this leads to interesting games of cat and mouse, trying to figure out what event the other runners will do. One big factor is always if the team is going to try to put together a serious 4x8. Putting your top dog in a 4x8 that has the chance to only score a couple points at best makes little sense if that person is a major player for points in the 3200. Athletes from the to teams in the 4x8 rarely have issues from doubling back from the 1600 or 800, so it mainly affects the 16-lappers. Here are some scouting reports for each division:
Large Boys: This is basically two runners figuring out where to posture themselves. I would expect at least one race against each other if not three. Devyn Keith of John Curtis is only qualified in 2 of the 3 distance events, so there is no mistaking he will enter the 1600 and 800. He will also be the anchor on the 4x8 and a leg on the 4x4. Eric Coston of St. Paul's is qualifed in all 3 distance events and his team is qualified in the 4x8. Devyn has not lost to Eric in their two indoor encounters, but if NOLA XC Metro showed us, Eric can take him if he isn't focused on what he needs to do to be successful. This could play out in a number of different ways. First being Eric could take Devyn on straight up in the 1600 and 800 and the two could have a battle of who is least tired in a third event as both their teams attempt to usurp CHS in the 4x8. The second is a bit more likely which would be a fresh Eric taking on a tired Devyn in the 800 (although I don't see the pace in the 1600 being nearly fast enough to wipe Keith enough to neutralize his kick), then if his team has intentions of competing for the podium, run a leg on the 4x8, but otherwise coming back to run a 3200 and win relatively easy. While it will certainly take a sub-10 to score in the 3200, I don't imagine anyone else can run the 9:25 it would take to beat a tired Coston. The rest of the field is a secondary race attempting to be the first runner across the line not named Eric or Devyn. I would imagine that CHS will run their athletes in a way to maximize team points to win the very tight team battle. I believe this would put David Toups in the 1600 and 800 then finish the day in the 4x8 (while possibly being a 4x4 alternate). Toups has great speed and is a savvy racer. His job will be difficult should several athletes like Jacob Daigle or Adam Wise choose the 1600 as well, since there could end up being a decent log jam, blocking precious points. Regardless, he will be a podium contender in both events. His teammate Jeffery Kelley is also a podium contender in the 3200, but the question is, does he run the 4x8 first to help CHS try to get the relay win? This would definitely take a bit energy out of him and the way Connor Killian has been racing, it may take a sub 9:40 to get that second (or first if Coston doesn't run the 3200) place spot.