ACC Track: Men meet Lee’s original benchmark with 3rd place showing; Women meet new benchmark with 11th place finish

Congratulations to the Men’s track team for posting a 3rd place finish at this year’s ACC Track Championship. This is the highest performance of the winter/spring sports schedule among NC State athletics.

At the end of Friday, NC State’s men stood atop the ACC Track and Field Championship standings behind solid scoring performances in the 10,000 meters, long jump, and 3,000 meter steeplechase. However, with few qualifiers in the finals of the sprints and middle distance events, NC State was likely to slip in the standings.

Update 1:45pm:

Early into the afternoon, NC State had fallen from 1st to 6th in the standings, and based upon low participation in the remaining events, it was unlikely that NC State could stay in the heat for the overall team championship. Florida State and Clemson do an outstanding and efficient job of allocating the NCAA cap of 11 scholarships across areas where athletes can compete in 3-4 events (e.g. sprinters, jumpers, middle distances).

Rollie Geiger, on the other hand, prefers to skew his scholarship count toward the long distance runners and highly specialized field event guys, thereby making it virtually impossible to score the requisite 110+ points to win an overall team championship. This strategy may help you win x-country championships, but severely hamstrings a program trying to compete in the winter and spring in track.

It is also worth noting that the two schools that finished ahead of NC State this year in track (Florida State and Clemson) were aided by members of the football team in the 100, 200, and relays. You see, those two schools scheduled their spring football games last weekend so as to facilitate the dual services for these athletes. One can only imagine this registered on the radar of our fearless leadership in Raleigh.

A sub-story in all of this is that Coach O’Brien may feel his skill position players will get faster working with his conditioning coaches as opposed to our track coaches. One hopes this does not hinder inherent synergies that can and should be fostered between the two sports. Remember that HS All American track athlete TJ Graham joins the football program next year, and should be an important asset to the track program, as well.


I would like to spend a few moments highlighting our women’s track program – which is a microcosm of the larger, and well-chronicled leadership and management deficiencies permeating NC State athletics.

NC State’s women’s track team managed to score 21 points, putting them at 11th of 12 teams (Duke is 12th). It should be noted that there are several paid coaches (including a separate “Director of Operations” for Women’s track) dedicated to a sport that has managed to muster 21 total points at the conference meet.

To further question the ROI of this resource allocation, consider this:

The women’s team did not field a single competitor in the following events:

100 Meters
100 Hurdles
1500 Meters
3000 Meter Steeplechase
Shot Put
Hammer Throw
Pole Vault

In addition, the women’s team failed to post a single finalist in the following events:

200 Meters
400 Meters
400 Meter Hurdles
800 Meters

*The 4×100 relay dropped the baton on the 2nd leg, thus not finishing the event.

This leaves us with the following representation and performances:

Heptathlon – 7th place (1 competitor)
Long Jump – 4th place (3 competitors)
Triple Jump – 3rd place (2 competitors)
High Jump – 3rd and 8th place (3 competitors)
10,000 Meters – 6th place (2 competitors)

Update 4:08pm:

The Men amass 17 points in the 5,000 meters behind 1st, 5th, 7th, and 8th place finishes. This is good enough to move the men from 5th to 3rd in the overall standings with one event (4×400 relay) remaining. With six points separating NC State from 4th place UVA, the Wolfpack will hold on to finish third in this year’s conference meet.

I believe this is the best performance of the spring for an NC State team.

Somewhere on Lake Gaston, Lee Fowler is smiling.

About Dogbreath

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19 Responses to ACC Track: Men meet Lee’s original benchmark with 3rd place showing; Women meet new benchmark with 11th place finish

  1. old13 04/19/2008 at 2:16 PM #

    But what about the great facilities!

  2. BoKnowsNCS71 04/19/2008 at 4:06 PM #

    But was he seen wearing a Memphis sticker on his lapel?

  3. ncsuftw01 04/19/2008 at 4:39 PM # once again

    (If I shouldn’t be advertising this just delete it)

  4. CarnifeX 04/19/2008 at 5:18 PM #

    I saw Lee Fowler at the spring game. He was talking with some guy about how they should have charged for parking and admission because of all the money that they were losing out on.*

    * I am not making this up.**

    **ok. so, I am making this up, but I did see him at the spring game.

  5. RickJ 04/19/2008 at 7:11 PM #

    “Rollie Geiger, on the other hand, prefers to skew his scholarship count toward the long distance runners and highly specialized field event guys, thereby making it virtually impossible to score the requisite 110+ points to win an overall team championship.”

    Rollie Geiger has won 38 ACC team championships since coming to NC State with this kind of skewing of scholarships. Nobody in the history of the ACC has ever won more. He has won approximately 50 percent of the ACC team titles that NC State has won since he was hired.

    Rip Lee Fowler all you want and you will not hear a peep out of me but this kind of nonsense will make you lose credibility pretty fast.

  6. blpack 04/19/2008 at 8:46 PM #

    When was the last time State did not when a single ACC championship the entire academic year?

  7. Todd 04/19/2008 at 9:36 PM #

    Championships? We don’t need no stinkin’ championships!! We’ve got MONEY man!!

  8. BoKnowsNCS71 04/19/2008 at 10:12 PM #

    Losing more money on the game that gets people excited. Does he think he is the AD at Alabama?

  9. PackerInRussia 04/19/2008 at 11:29 PM #

    Curse Lee for that baton drop.

    “But what about the great facilities!”

    They were in such bad condition for so long that it’s going to take a while to build back up to being a contender. The facilities need some time to get their athletes in there and run their system for a while. Plus you have the players recruited by the previous facilities mixed with the players recruited by the present facilities and that can cause some tension. I say give the facilities a few more years and if we don’t start seeing some progress, then we look at getting new facilities.

  10. Dogbreath 04/20/2008 at 8:08 AM #

    “Rollie Geiger has won 38 ACC team championships since coming to NC State with this kind of skewing of scholarships. Nobody in the history of the ACC has ever won more. He has won approximately 50 percent of the ACC team titles that NC State has won since he was hired.”

    Indeed, Rollie Geiger’s teams have won 38 ACC team championships since 1985, out of a total of 144 ACC championship meets. He is one of the finest distance coaches in the nation. This weekend’s meet featured 4 distance events out of 21 total events toward the team scoring. We did very well in those 4 events.

    Rollie Geiger’s teams have excelled in cross country (13 men’s championships and 19 women’s championships), that cannot be denied. His track teams on the other hand have not won a team title since 1996, and before that 1988. From 1985 to 1988, Rollie Geiger’s men won 4 ACC championships. Much of the credit for that success goes to Curtis Frye, who coached the sprinters and jumpers, before leaving for the University of South Carolina at the end of the decade. At NC State, Frye coached 27 All-Americans, four individual NCAA runner-up finishes and 37 conference champions during the mid 1980s. The track program’s success was very largely attributed to Frye’s athletes performances.

    Looking at it in the aggregate, as you have done, suggests that our track program is on good footing. However, the performance follows a similar trajectory of our other sports programs: a lot of success in the 1980s, not much since.

    The women’s track program, on the other hand, is absolutely dismal – just a notch above women’s volleyball.

    Thank you for reinforcing my point regarding the scholarship allocation.

  11. StateFans 04/20/2008 at 8:56 AM #

    ^ Before Frye I believe that we had another top track coach who ultimately went down to University of Florida.

  12. RickJ 04/20/2008 at 1:24 PM #

    “The women’s track program, on the other hand, is absolutely dismal – just a notch above women’s volleyball.”

    The women cross country team won the ACC championship in 2006, their 20th in 29 years.

    “Before Frye I believe that we had another top track coach who ultimately went down to University of Florida.”

    Tom Jones maybe, but that my have been even further back.

  13. Dogbreath 04/20/2008 at 2:16 PM #

    Tom Jones was the coach prior to Rollie Geiger, and did leave for Florida. He lost a battle with cancer last year.

    As I have pointed out, our cross country programs are strong, based on an inordinate allocation of scholarships toward distance runners.

    Our men’s track program has not won an ACC championship since 1996.

    Our women have never won an ACC track championship.

    Jeff: I hate to hear that about Coach Jones. I had the pleasure of meeting him and speaking with him multiple times at UF in the late 90s. Great guy.

  14. runpack 04/20/2008 at 10:56 PM #

    One of the things I love about SFN is that there is a seriousness about doing well in sports that fly under the media radar. So seeing someone complain about an 11th place finish in women’s track is refreshing. But there is a lot of stuff in this thread that is waaay over the line. And there is also repeated, strong insinuation that Coach Geiger should do what our athletic department is rightly slammed for doing for most of the past two decades – ignore the succesful areas, and aim for across-the-board mediocrity. I’m going off of memory for most of what I’m saying here, and a certain amount of inference since I haven’t been around Raleigh much the last couple of years, but I don’t have time to look stuff up or call people to ask questions. I know more about this tiny slice of Wolfpack Nation than anyone else writing here, so deal with it if I get some details wrong.
    Men’s cross country has won 13 ACC titles (not counting a “regular season title” in the second year of ACC existence when for some reason there was no championship meet). One of those was prior to 1991. That means 12 of the last 17 titles, including 10 of the last 13.
    Women’s cross country has won 20 out of 30 ACC titles ever awarded. The years they did not win included 1981 & 1982 (when UVa won the NCAA title), 1986 & 1994 (both years NCSU did not field full teams), and to Duke & Florida State teams in the past three years that were ranked second or third in the nation. (Don’t recall their precise NCAA finishes; Duke finished second one year recently, but I think that was actually the year before they were ranked number two all year.) By my count that is 11 titles since 1990. Carolina had Shalane Flanagan, now the American holder for 5000 meters, win four consecutive ACC individuals titles and only won once as a team. They had Blake Russell, who made the Olympic team in the marathon this morning, for four years and she only ran on one ACC championship team. That’s a combined total of 23 ACC titles in cross country since 1990. How many years were those the only titles won by NC State?
    There are now 12 schools in the ACC, and three ACC titles (cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track) available for each sex out of the combined track budget (no separate scholarships for cross country.) If you can consistently bring home one of the three, you are coming out way ahead of the average. Schools pretty much have to make a choice to go all out for cross country, all out for track (and at best not have enough distance depth to be competitive in cross country) or try for a mixed bag and end up battling for fourth place in both seasons. This is more true now than 15 years ago (because it is harder to score in track against athletes from 12 schools) and especially true on the women’s side because with Title IX all 12 schools have full scholarship allotments. Also, with 12 teams, it is more of a certainty that some schools will recognize this calculus, sacrifice one season, and go all-in for the other.
    I think there has only been one (possibly two) occasions when a school has won ACC women’s titles in cross country and track in the same year. Most years the winner in one was not close in the other. In men’s track, Florida State won both in 2005-06. Prior to that, the last team to do it was NC State in 1995-96. Before that, Clemson in 1988-89. And before that NCSU in 1986-87. I think those are the only times in modern ACC history (after the years when Maryland was the only school fielding a competitive track team.) As noted, FSU (and Clemson) both have gotten a lot of sprint points from the football team the last couple of years. FSU basically used the scholarships saved there to bring in some dominant distance runners from Great Britain which accounted for their sweep. The most recent NC State sweep had Alvis Whitted (a track recruit who earned a football scholarship) running the fasted times in ACC meet history in the 100 & 200 and taking the 4×100 from 4th to 1st; Ivan Wagner (a basketball scholarship) winning the high jump; Cordell Smith (football) scoring in the long jump and decathlon, and Darwin Walker (football) scoring in two throws. The Clemson sweep in ’88-89 again had a future NFL’er winning two sprints, another football sprinter, and two dominant foreign distance runners that could not have been afforded if the sprinters had been on track scholarship. (And still, State only lost by two points in track.) The State track titles in the 80’s, including the sweep year, got huge points from Danny Peebles and Izel Jenkins, both who went on to the NFL. But far from being dependent on Frye’s sprinters, the ’88 track team was probably the most well rounded I’ve seen in the ACC – it had NCAA scorers in sprints, distance, jumps, and throws. The point is, winning cross country and track is extremely difficult, and almost never happens unless the team is getting full-scholarship calibre talent from another sport for free.
    What would be an “ordinate” allocation of scholarships for distance runners? Less than half the total? (They might be there already, especially for women). Less than a third? 20%, since four out of 21 events are true distance races? If a school has a strong history in a certain event area; and its best, or at least best known, coaches are in that area, then there is a lot more credibility there and the same scholarship dollar will get better athletes. For NC State (and Duke, but more because of demographic/academic reasons) it makes sense to put more into distance events. On the other hand, at Miami, you have no history in cross country, no real reputation or expertise on your staff in distance events, you know several other schools are loading up to go after cross county, distance kids will never come to train in that weather – I wouldn’t spend a dime on distance scholarships there. It’s not cheating to focus on your strength – it’s smart. Especially if you are better at your strength than anyone else.
    The original post implied implied a strong preference for allocating scholarhips into areas where athletes can score in multiple events. Four NC State men’s distance runners scored in two events each. All of them came back in the 5000 (next to last event of the meet) when State was mathematically eliminated from a top two position, when they had already run and scored in another long race, and did enough to secure the best possible place State could have gotten in the team standings. I’m not going through the results to find them, but I think there were very few people in the men’s meet who scored in more than two individual events. Stephen Furst was the only athlete to win two events.
    The attack on “skewing the scholarship allocation” makes no sense from another perspective. There are 21 events in track, scored 8-deep at the ACC meet. NOBODY is ever balanced across the events (except the Boston College men, who didn’t score at all this year.) In the nine field events, Florida State scored 22 points, and 10 of those were from a single long jumper. Yet FSU won easily. If NCSU’s “highly specialized field event guys” were as good as our distance runners (i.e., the best in the ACC) we would be in the hunt for the track title most years. I can also assure you that the assistant coach producing those results would be gone in short order, because NCSU does not pay enough to keep an assistant that good. (Though to be honest, no one does – if you are consistently winning conference titles in your event, you want a head job.)
    Having seen the track/football relationship at multiple schools at the high school and college level, I can state that whether football players are participating in track is almost never about the quality of preparation that happens on the track – it is all about what kind of control-freak the football coach is. But at the ACC (or SEC, or Big 12) level, there are very few athletes who can do track part-time for three months and score in the conference, especially if they weren’t really serious track athletes before college (and not just people who were fairly successful because they were fast.) There are a ton of guys in ACC football who could run 10.50 (NOT 10.5 hand-timed) if they spent six months full-time on track. But without the concentrated work on starts and sprint mechanics, they are 10.75 guys and don’t make the finals. There are a few who have real sprint background and can short-cut that process, and a very few who are so fast they run 10.45 raw. (Most of the people this fast actually do put in the time, and end up as NCAA qualifiers.) I am not aware of a single person on NC State’s football roster who can match what the FSU and Clemson players are doing on the track. Is it a surprise to anyone who reads this board that our football roster is somewhat behind athletically compared to some other programs? Moving the spring game up a week is a good idea, but the times missed from practice during those three weeks is huge. And from a football perspective, even if you trust the track coaches to develop speed, you may put at least as much of a premium on size, and spring practice is more about skill development than anything physical.
    Random points
    – Tom Jones was the head track coach prior to Geiger (who was already head of cross country.) He left NCSU for Arizona State, and several years later went to Florida. He was the sprint coach – I don’t think Frye was there at the same time. And Frye was assistant at Florida, and then UNX, before getting the head job at South Carolina. (Providing at least some evidence that some schools may have paid assistants more than NCSU.)
    – The numbers on Curtis Frye don’t add up – he was not at NC State long enough to produce that many conference champions and all-Americans. Unless someone is crediting him with all the other events besides sprints that were also successful. Head coaches get to list claim the whole team in their bio, but as an assistant you don’t get to claim people you didn’t work with.
    -No one gets paid for working with just the women’s track team at NC State. The programs are combined. And my guess is “Director of Operations” is what you get when you have someone who does everything you need done and is so overqualified that it would be an insult to call them administrative assistant (because we all know that means “secretary”). But you don’t have budget to pay them jack, and you can’t give them any real coaching responsibility because their expertise is in the same area as the head coach. So you give them a title that will at least keep their resume in the pile when they apply for a real coaching job.
    -The comments about Tom Wood are ridiculous. He works full-time at Raleigh’s alternative high school, and then is at the track or the weight room from ~2:30-7:00pm every day. I would assume his pay is on par with that of a coach with another full-time job (i.e., not much.) He’s got a pretty remarkable record with men’s throwers of turning walk-ons into ACC scorers. The idea of him hanging out at Lake Gaston will probably cause laughs in the track office, and for anyone else who has ever seen him standing behind the discus cage, in a wife-beater showing the thick hair across his back and neck, with a thick pack of tobacco in his mouth. But it is a gross insult to compare his work/income ratio to anyone in Case Athletics Center (or wherever the administrative offices are now.)

  15. runpack 04/20/2008 at 11:12 PM #

    Follow up: There is history behind the women’s distance focus, besides the strategic scholarship allocation mentioned above. I’m pretty sure that for a long time State was allocating substantially less than the NCAA scholarship allotment to women’s track. There was no way to be competitive with fully-funded programs in track with its 19 (at that time) events. But especially with the program being one of the original powers in women’s cross country, fewer scholarships could still produce an ACC power when focused there. And that sort of gets baked into the cake. I would guess that for more than a decade, because of Title IX, NC State fully funds every women’s sport and every ACC school fully funds women’s track. But there are a lot fewer good athletes (people within striking distance of all-ACC) among high school girls than boys, and with everyone throwing 18 scholarships around, it is very hard for a school like State to get competitive in the events where there is no history. The men not only have a much better history across the board in track, but there are many fewer scholarships chasing many more good athletes, so a good coach has some chance bring in kids that he can develop.

  16. Dogbreath 04/21/2008 at 7:35 AM #


    thank you for responding and clarifying several misconceptions or inaccuracies in the original post. I want to specifically apologize for any slights to Coach Wood. lists him as an “assistant coach” separately from the “volunteer” coaches. This inference that he is a salaried staffer was apparently wrong, and so I have removed any references to this man from the post. Someone who teaches youngsters, then dedicates time to coaching athletes for virtually no pay is above reproach.

    That said, there are a number of points that I disagree with you regarding the ability to compete successfully across all three sports simultaneously.

    Florida State has won the men’s cross country, indoor, and outdoor championships in the same year, and have been generally dominant across all three sports in the past decade.

    However we may disagree on the details, I think in principle we agree on the inherent challenges in succeeding in track/cross country. your knowledge of the sport and program history is admirable.

  17. StateFans 04/21/2008 at 8:11 AM #

    GREAT ENTRY….and GREAT example of the power of the platform and network with so many folks out there who can provide insight and information!

  18. PackMan97 04/21/2008 at 9:44 AM #

    I think the argument regarding scholarship allocation is a bit thin. Yes, we are heavy in long distance, but so what? The fact that we skew towards long distance in order to win X-Country almost every year is a trade off that I think is acceptable.

    With scholarship limits in non-revenue sports, you have to make trade offs. I do wish that track had more support from football and basketball athletes, and maybe that is something that can change. I think that would be 100% up to the coach of that sport and I can understand their desire for their scholarship athletes to focus on techniques for their scholarship sports.

    Of course, one would think that getting some “sprinting technique” training would benefit a wide out or cornerback come game day…but what do I know? only what the TV and Statefans tells me.

  19. gcpack 04/21/2008 at 12:02 PM #

    Lately I have been questioning Lee Fowler’s performance but I am feeling that maybe SFN is laying it on a little thick with the criticism.

    My concerns are with the sports that we have become perennial losers or bottom feeders within the conference and the respective coaches that have been with the teams long enough to achieve results.

    An example would be the men’s soccer program. The coach is just coasting along and apparently there is no pressure on him to improve the team’s performance. He clearly cannot recruit sufficiently or coach those he has to success.

    In other cases such as women’s vollyeball we have a bad record but the coach is fairly new and should have more time to develop the team.

    Overall if we as an institution want to excel in more of these non-revenue sports then it is up to more people than just Lee Fowler. In the past, while I was in school, we had an athletic director (Willis Casey) who had been the swimming coach. It would seem to me that his background in a non-revenue sport shaped the athletic program and State did compete better in these sports. It is a natural byproduct of the background of the athletic director at the time.

    In the absence of that background among the athletic directors since (Valvano, Trader Turner[just the worst], Robinson and Fowler) those sports may have lost some instinctive support. Maybe in the past under Casey it did not have to be mandated and the university become comfortable with not having to press for success in these sports.

    The trustees and/or other influential alumni and supporters need to demand and take action to become more aggressive with performance expectations with these sports. If we as a major university want this improvement that will have to come from those with influence. That may include some who visit and participate here at SFN but I suspect most of us here(including myself) are not in the financial situation to have that type of influence. As with any university those with that influence will tend to be a small percentage relative to all supporters and alumni.

    In other words these people such as the trustees have to mandate this improvement within these sports and charge the athletic director with that responsibility. If that is not being done now & the university is happy with the status quo in the performance of the athletic department then Lee Fowler is doing what the university hired him to do.

    My hope is that some of those WITH influence are reading these blogs and will take up the cause to require a more successful record on the field in non-revenue sports from the athletic department. If the university leadership does that then whoever the athletic director is will have his/her marching orders and be expected to adhere to them.

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