After sifting thru all of that information a few things become very evident.
- 500m Depth is More Telling to 4x4 Strength
- Boys' 4x4 Strength is Less Reliant on Star Athletes
- Competition is The Biggest Key on The Girls' Side
- 4x4 Strength Does Correlate to Team Titles
1. 500m Depth is More Telling to 4x400 Strength
This fact emerged quickly on the guys' side and then slowly on the girls' side. The reason it rose quicker on the guys' side was the influx of elite distance guys running quick 500s and not 300s. The other factor was some elite 300 guys did not run the 500 even close to their 300 rank.
The most prominent example being Albemarle's Jordan Hill. He ranked 17th in the 300 (2009) but didn't even crack the top 500 for 500. They (Albemarle) are a unique group though considering they went on to break the DMR and 4x800 national records. Their 7:36.99 4x800 record should tell you the type of speed that they had. That leads into the next point of emphasis below.
2. Boys' 4x4 Strength is Less Reliant on Star Athletes
The girls' 4x400 may seem to be easier considering the recent influx of new teams but nationally it is quite the contrary. The boys' 4x4 record of 3:19 would only rank US #4 this year and US #8 last year. Despite that, the record has still stood for 15 years now.
That is in complete contradiction to the talented individuals our state has had over that same period. This includes: Byron Robinson, Michael Cherry, Noah Lyles, Micaiah Harris, Josephus Lyles, Grant Holloway, David Verburg, Sean Holston, and even LaShawn Merritt. Despite all of those talented athletes and their solid teams, not one has been able to take down Lake Braddock's 2003 state record of 3:19.22.
Putting the icing on the cake for this fact is the fact that Lake Braddock's record setting quartet did not include a single individual state champion when they ran that 3:19.22.
This is completely the opposite of the girls' side which features state champions basically on every single top 10 relay.
3. Competition is The Biggest Key on The Girls' Side
If you look at the full all-time list one thing starts to really correlate. That is the fact that 9 out of the top 10 performances were run with another one of the top 25 all-time performances. Meaning that speed begets speed and that the faster one team gets the faster the other one goes. This trend is very visible especially now with the Western Branch/Nansemond River rivalry.
After all it does help to have competition and that is more readily seen on the girls' side rather than the boys'.
4. 4x4 Strength Does Correlate to Team Titles
Though we didn't dig too far into this we did see some strong points. The biggest of which was that 12 of the 14 state team champions last year had a 4x400 place inside the top four at states. One of the two that didn't was Western Branch who actually had the best 4x4 in the state and the other was E.C. Glass who ranked 8th amongst 4A competitors.
Simply put, the 4x4 is one of the best measures of team depth. Its' position at the end of the meet also enhances this measurement by allowing distance athletes a chance to compete on it without the fear of taking too much out of their legs before another event.
The final point will likely be proved again at this year's state championships. Almost all of the favorite teams for all 14 titles have strong 4x400 ranked as well.