Latest FAB50 rankings explained

The FAB50 cross country team rankings involve some numbers crunching but they are not an exact science.

So how is it that Southlake Carroll TX can run so well at NXN South and drop from No. 1 to No. 4?And how did Christian Brothers NJ, the preseason No. 1, get the top spot back?

Rob Monroe ranks the teams for Dyestat and offered this explanation for this week's rankings. The BOYS and GIRLS rankings endured some subtle and not-so-subtle shifts since last week.

Here is what he has to say:

Starting in the preseason, it looked like three seemingly interchangeable teams would battle for the 2011 NXN championship: Christian Brothers NJ, Southlake Carroll TX and Shaker NY. American Fork UT quickly moved into the mix with very impressive wins at the Grass Relays and Pre-Region IV races in August, and have continued to shine ever since with times comparable to their epic squad from 2010.

Meanwhile, Shaker’s squad was derailed by injuries and hasn't looked as good as anticipated, although it has started to get back on track over the last few weeks. At the Utah state meet, Davis showed that they should not be overlooked either, running the third best team time in meet history.

Christian Brothers, Southlake Carroll and the two Utah teams all seem capable of finishing on the podium at NXN, with the only clear order to date being American Fork ahead of Davis, as they are 3-0 head-to-head. Other teams in the South, Southwest and New Jersey can attest to these teams' strength. Southlake Carroll has put up low scores at the Texas 5A State Championships and

NXN South, while Christian Brothers and the two Utah teams have done similarly well against even stiffer competition.

It is also worth paying attention to how strong these teams have performed against the backdrop of history. CBA broke its own course record at Holmdel Park last weekend when they won the New Jersey Meet of Champions, running a blistering 16:04.40 average on a challenging 5k course to edge back into the No. 1 spot. American Fork also broke their own course record from last year at NXN Southwest, with Davis running the No. 3 mark on the course with a combined total just 32 seconds behind American

Fork's mark last year. Southlake Carroll's times have also been quite good, but not record-breaking. The state meet and NXN regional performances have been slower than several winners in the past, albeit in different conditions.

All four teams have good arguments to be ranked in various orders, with the only clear point being American Fork ahead of Davis. Christian Brothers gets the nod this week. It should also be noted that any of those four teams might yet be challenged. Arcadia won the Bob Firman Invite over Davis. And while Davis has improved it now appears that Arcadia is running better as well, winning the

CIF Southern Section Finals at historic Mt. SAC over Rancho Cucamonga (who beat Arcadia at the Mt. SAC Invite and was third at Bob Firman) very convincingly.

Arcadia’s team time Saturday was No. 2 all-time on the layout, behind only last year’s NXN Champion squad. Golden Valley also ran the No. 4 all-time mark on the course in winning the Division 2 race. Arcadia may have only moved up one spot to US#5, but the performance is better than that alone would indicate: Arcadia has significantly narrowed the gap on the top four. Golden Valley’s victory moved them up four places to US#8.

Beyond the battle at the top, there was other significant movement this week:

Led by Darren Fahy, La Costa Canyon CA shot up the rankings from 35 to 14 behind a strong performance at the CIF-San Diego Section Finals: LCC averaged 16:11 at Balboa, with Fahy clocking in at 15:23 and teammates Eric Causey (15:47) and Steven Fahy (16:06) showing just how formidable their front trio is. Ramona also ran well at the meet, finishing only nine points behind and

moving up from the Fab-50 bubble to US#28.

Belen Jesuit showed once again that it is Florida’s best, winning the state meet with 26 points and averaging 15:40.6 over the 5k course, a performance strong enough to move them up 20 spots to US#18.

Fort Collins CO ran its best race of the 2010 season at NXN when it finished fourth and was hoping to make a return trip again this year with six of seven coming back. However, when the Colorado champs got to the Southwest regional they came up short, running a minute slower than last year and finishing significantly back of the two Utah teams. Fort Collins dropped 22 spots to US#29 and Mountain Vista CO also dropped back from US#16 to the Fab50 bubble list.

On the girls side of things, Simi Valley edged Saugus 60-66 in California in a preview of what’s to come at the California state meet this weekend. The closest the two teams got to facing each other came last month at the Mt. SAC Invitational, where Saugus rolled to victory in the Individual Sweepstakes only 25 minutes before Simi Valley looked even better as they dismantled an incredible field in the Team Sweepstakes. Racing head-to-head, it is clear both of these teams have what it takes to win the California state title and earn a spot on the podium in Portland if they qualify. Simi Valley’s ran a team time almost identical to the NXN runner-up Saugus teams in 2007 and 2008.

NXN Southwest was the first out-of-state meet for the Colorado powers all season. Fort Collins, second at Colorado state, came up big to win NXN Southwest for the fifth year in a row, a feat only matched by the Fayetteville-Manlius NY girls and North Central WA boys. The victory propelled Fort Collins up eight spots to US#17. Xavier Prep, the Arizona state champion, dropped nine spots to US#18 as it finished second, even though it was missing its second best runner from state.

Monarch, the Colorado 5A champion, finished third and dropped 10 spots to US#23, while Colorado 3A champion The Classical Academy dropped 11 spots to US#25 for finishing fourth.

Saratoga rebounded from an off race in muddy conditions at New York's public state championships to win the Federations meet with the fifth best all-time performance at Bowdoin Park, behind only the national champions from 2004 (Saratoga) and 2007-2010 (Fayetteville-Manlius). Such a performance moved Saratoga up 12 places to US#3, the spot they held before the state meet. Mary Cain’s all-time No. 3 performance at Bowdoin helped Bronxville moved up to US#33.

NXN South yielded little movement as Southlake Carroll and Kingwood TX ran as expected, though the order beyond the two teams was a change from previous races and will be reflected in the final regional rankings. Southlake Carroll, the 5A and NXN South champions, moved up five spots to US#14 while Kingwood, the 5A and regional runner-up squad, moved up two spots to US#24.