Is 2002 OK's year at last? : LUSENET : orienteer kansas : One Thread

The 2002 US Relay Champs are coming up in just over three weeks. OK has been a strong contender for years, but when was the last victory? Not in my memory, I don't think. But could this be the year? Let's look at the prospects.

I made a trip up to the meet site a couple of days ago, to look over the layout of the finish areas, and discuss other arrangements with the organizers (I'll be working results at the meet). I didn't get a chance to get out into the woods any further than the walk to the Day 1 start area, but I did get some sense of what we'll be presented with from that, and from seeing the general sort of terrain on the drive up. If I had to pick a map with the most closely-matching terrain, I think it might be Fox Forest, particularly the northern section. But that's not surprising, since it's the closest major map geographically to Marshfield, VT. Or maybe the northern part of Mt. Tom would be a reasonable match, as well. Perhaps even the southern part of Mt. Norwottuck. Hard to say. Definitely New England terrain, though.

There is one change to the Relay format for this year: instead of the 4-point category running Orange-Yellow-Green-Red, it will now be Orange-Brown-Green-Red. (8-point will still be Orange-Yellow-Brown-Green.) This is probably a good development for OK, as OK won't be wasting a strong navigator on a Yellow course. It's a big negative for any club that would be fielding a team consisting of three M21s and a cute-but-stupid runner worth four points on Leg 2.

I'm assuming that OK's 4-point team will consist of Snorkel, Mrs. Ahmed, Spike, and Mook, in that order. (Peggy really needs a cool nickname -- can't some club funds be allocated for this purpose?) My analysis is based on this team roster, and if the coaching staff decides to go with a different combination, then some adjustments will be required. So who are the likely contenders, the perennial threats, and how does OK stack up against them?

1) RMOC. Looks like RMOC will not be fielding a 4-point team this year. In fact, it's very doubtful that the defending champs will be sending any sort of team at all. 2) SVO. Normally a very strong threat, SVO has had some medical issues this year that will likely hamper their chances. Problem #1 is Mark Voit's broken leg, and problem #2 is Megan Donohue's pregnancy. Assuming those two are out, their only saving grace may be that Brad Whitmore has reached age 50, allowing the use of 0-point Eddie Bergeron. So an SVO team might look like Brad, Mike Ball, Mihai Veres, and Fast Eddie. Going leg by leg... I think OK has the edge on at least three legs. 3) Cascade. A club plagued with the problem of amassing enough points. Last year they ran Bill Cusworth, Jennifer Knowles, Jan Urban, and Eric Bone (after Jan switched clubs from... Sammamish?). Eileen Breseman is a possible substitute for Jennifer. This is a closer call, with the possibility of the lead trading back and forth between the two teams. Cusworth is a very strong leadoff runner, but OK may well have the next two legs. A Mook-Bone showdown at the end could be a dangerous and exciting prospect. Bear in mind that Cascade is also hungry for a long-elusive relay title. 4) BAOC. Who knows what sort of team this club will field. James Scarborough is obviously their star, but they have presumably lost the services of Wyatt Riley, now living in PA. Bring in Syd Reader and your choice of other strong runners such as Doug Stein, Bruce Wolfe, Thorsten Graeve, etc., and all you're left with is a need for points. Penny DeMoss would obviously put them in great shape, but if Penny wouldn't even make the trip down to LA last year, what are the chances of getting her to Vermont? So it remains to be seen what a BAOC team will look like, and they do remain as a potential strong threat. 5) CSU. Just as this could be OK's year, maybe it's finally the year for CSU. Or maybe it's too late for CSU. Kenny Walker is still around, but Boris Granovskiy has graduated and may have left town -- can he be persuaded to run in Vermont? If so, then their best team is likely Danny Walker, Suzanne Armstrong, Boris, and Kenny. To some extent, they may be hometown favorites, since the Walkers' parents have recently moved to Vermont (I think -- maybe it's northern New Hampshire?). If Boris is not available, CSU might have the services of Ross Smith, and Ross might still be worth a point, which would also give them the option of using Karen Williams in place of Suzanne. So they have some flexibility, although it's possible that student schedules could take some of the key players out of commission. We'll have to wait and see. If they had their strongest possible team together, they would probably be tough for OK to handle. But even a very strong team can falter. 6) HVO. HVO has been known to win in the past, but it's doubtful that they have enough strong runners left to field any sort of team that would be in contention. They've even lost Greg Balter to DVOA recently. 7) DVOA. Now including Wyatt Riley and Greg Balter, as well as Randy Hall, DVOA could put together a powerful team. They'd still need to find a couple of points, and I'm not in touch enough to know who they could use. Sandy Fillebrown at a minimum, but maybe even somebody faster. They also have a couple of very strong M40s with foreign-looking names who might be eligible. 8) UNO. UNO probably doesn't have a top M21 to run the anchor leg, but on the other hand, just about everybody in the club is worth at least one point, and with such a short drive to the meet site, there's a good chance that they could field the four best runners they have. Who would that be? Erin Olafsen, Steve Tarry, Alar Ruutopold and Ernst Linder? Or might Peter Andersen show up again? What about Davio Dunham or Dave McGraw? Kristen and Andy Hall are supposed to be back stateside by then; is Andy eligible, and/or can Kristen be convinced that she really is in good enough shape to run, after having recently given birth? With the home-terrain advantage, UNO can't be counted out. 9) WCOC. Could they put together a team? Pavlina Brautigam, Viktoria Brautigam, Ed White, and Joe Brautigam could run as a very strong 8-point team, and would likely do so. But if one of the girls isn't available and they substitute Rick DeWitt, I believe that would take them under 8 points. Maybe not the race favorite, but not to be discounted, either. 10) NEOC. Uh, yeah. So... their best runners will be busy dominating the 8-point category with an old-folks' team, right? 11) BSK. This formerly invincible relay powerhouse is rumored to be back, fielding its first relay team since the 1990 victory in San Diego. But it's all new faces (for BSK), and it's an 8-point team anyway, so no threat there. 12) USMAOC. Could be a problem in certain years, but they dont have any stars right now (at least not that I'm aware of), and would thus likely be up the track. Plus, they'd have a hell of a time getting that bus up McCrillis Road. 12) SLOC. PTOC. SMOC. TSN. FLO. GAOC. HOC. OME. LIOC. LAOC. OCIN. NEOOC. ALTOS. QOC. PHXO. BGR. TUNA. VULC. GCO. CTOC. ORCA. CAOC. CNYO. ROC. EMPO. ARCT. ICO. MNOC. GMOC. BFLO. MVOC. COO. NTOA. SOON. SDO. FUMA. These clubs, and others I've doubtless forgotten, could all theoretically field 4-point teams capable of taking home the hardware. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

So... in a place with not inconsequential climb, unquestionable technical challenge, and breathtaking autumn vistas to distract the unwary competitor, will a team from the land of flat, featureless wheatfields be able to emerge victorious? We'll find out on September 22. It may come down to how badly OK wants it. But this could be the year!

[Note to the coaching staff: if you think keeping Snorkel away from Chocolate Rocks is a problem, bear in mind that the Ben&Jerry's factory in Waterbury is only 30 miles from the meet site. Factory tours are $2 for adults, and include samples of ice cream straight off the production line.]

-- J-J (, August 28, 2002


Has anyone seen the ALTOS webpage recently? "Mother Bird" is talking a lot of trash and saying that ALTOS is bringing their best team ever to Vermont and that they're going to run away with the field. They're talking about putting a 30-minute margin on the rest of the field after the first two legs so they can walk the rest of the way. Mother Bird thinks ALTOS is going to stomp all over OK and on and on... It's just pitiful.

Speaking of orienteering, you never know what an injury in the woods can do to a team's chances. Check out this piercing injury photo that Spike found! Maybe someone will have an "accident"?

-- Mook (, August 28, 2002.

This was fun to read -- always fun to conjecture about possible teams and how they'll do. I think CSU could be very dangerous (the Walker parents moved to Vermont, about 2 hours from the meet site according to Ken Sr). Andy and Kristin are moving back to the US on the 18th but will NOT be at the meet. I am most concerned about UNO -- which has a boatload of fast, talented runners with plenty of points, and this is like home terrain for them (they'll probably have about 7-9 teams, 2 or three of which might be rather strong, plus a few good 8 point teams) -- and CSU because they, too understand this kind of terrain and they're young and strong. Perhaps too young to keep their heads straight? The other clubs all are bigger question marks because of the question of who they might bring. Most of them need to get a subset of their top folks to travel to VT and that might be the problem. QOC will likely have a team or two but I don't know who will be on it...I don't think they do, either.

By the way, I begged for a nickname before and I was told it has to happen "organically." I'm still waiting...

-- Peggy (, August 29, 2002.

ps -- Boris is now in California and running for BAOC. That certainly doesn't hurt their prospects.

-- Peggy (, August 29, 2002.

By the way, I begged for a nickname before and I was told it has to happen "organically." I'm still waiting...

I happen to know that Mook and Mary are working on a nickname (not sure whether that is good news or not!).

-- Michael (, August 29, 2002.

You can remove SLOC from the wildcard list. We actually gave it some thought this year as Me, Gary Thompson, Dave Frei, and Rich Ruid would be a decent 4-pt team (no stars, but no weaknesses, either). But, Gary & I are doing ROGAINE champs the week before, and Dave will be just off the Chicago Onion adventure race, so we decided to hold off. Next year's terrain is probably more to our liking, anyway, so maybe we'll give it a shot in 2003.

-- Eric (, September 03, 2002.

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