Marking a major change in the East Luray Liars Triathlon, 2018 will be a team event, with four-man teams competing across all five stages, starting with a Thursday night draft and ending with one team hoisting the overall trophy on Saturday night.
2018 also marks ELLT Mark II, as the youth movement comes into force. When we decided the boys had to graduate from high school to compete, we probably should’ve marked this year as something special, as six varsity athletes who’ve been watching us “compete” for 10 years now get their chance.
So since I can’t handicap the field as in previous years – and get the inevitable email from the Grey Ghost asking if the house will honor his bets – I am looking at which kids would be the best matches for each team, understanding that the rules include no siblings or father-son combinations.
Two-time defending champion, proving dominance at two events is enough to win it all, Danno needs help in basketball and golf to get himself a well-rounded team with a chance at the unprecedented back-to-back. Drew Lapham would be an easy choice – varsity skills and better than his father at golf, plus demonstrated some tenacity at basketball last year. Solid biking and climbing skills, too, all of which makes it unlikely Danno will get Drew unless he drafts him first overall. If he passes, Danno doesn’t draft again until the 12th overall.
He can’t pick his brother and he can only have one other youth on his team, so Leo needs to perfectly match his own weaknesses, which means anyone who can play golf. If Drew goes first, Leo could select his brother, Tommy, who brings known athletic skills in every event, including solid guard strength to pair with Leo’s outside/inside game. Tommy may be weakest on the bikes, which would again play well with Leo’s strengths. If he also passes on a Lapham, it could only be to ensure the Lapham boys fall to 4th and 5th overall (and The Commissioner will launch an investigation into match-fixing between Leo, Danno, Mike, and Jason. Not saying she wouldn’t approve, she would just want to know).
He can’t pick his sons. His one weakness is hoops. He loves a competitor. And soccer. His best fits are Owen H and Ben H, either one. Owen has a better basketball pedigree and a bit more height, plus he might be better on the bikes. Ben might be better on the rocks, but neither can play golf, which works fine for Eric, as that’s his core strength. Another possible good match – Max. We all know what Max brings, especially on the court.
With no limits on his picks, but a soft spot in his heart for someone so close he’s family, I can’t see how Mike doesn’t go with William, who brings a defenseman’s raw strength across all the events, plus solid passer/picker hoops skills. On the bikes, they’re both hopeless, which makes it likely they’ll be gifted the best rider left when we get to the fourth (Race Director’s Decision) round.
He can’t pick his own sons, although one year maybe we will experiment with family-heavy teams. Maddens plus one v Laphams plus one v Heffernans v Doyles/Graf plus one v Ratajczaks plus two. Yeah, actually, that’s when we’re going to this format. And Pierce Heffernan can step in for his uncle when needed. But Jason needs a golfer and a climber, but the only youths with golf skills won’t likely fall this far, meaning he will make that event about who he wants to play a round with and look for a high basketball IQ and a decent climber….Mitchell Roy, the Tom Brady of the ELLT 2018 Draft.
And I pick both last and first, and then first again, because I’ve already put Hadj on my team. Three things to consider before you complain to The Commissioner or whine about “fairness.” First, I am under the same rules and can’t take either one of my own sons. Second, I only get two youths, too. And, third, I have been mountain biking with Hadj and he might reach Steve Ball depths of disrepair on a bike.
But with the 7th overall pick, which youth best complements Hadj’s hoops skills and my overall slightly-below-averageness at everything except golf, at which I completely suck? Maybe Owen L – smart enough at hoops that Hadj won’t kill him for making dumb mistakes, and solid at every other event, with just enough of his father in him that I know he’d try to undermine the other teams. Maybe Travis – super high basketball IQ, raw athlete, can probably handle his own at everything, although he probably plays golf like his father.
So that leaves three youths in the very enviable position of being highly coveted after that first round, when they are all that stands between a team captain and the Race Director’s cruel sense of balance. Gunnar will be a true unknown, but likely holds his own at everything, given his combination of skiing and football skills (yes, skiing matters, as we’ve all seen from his father’s relentlessness on the basketball court when he manages to show up on time for the games). And Evan. If he rides a yard bike like his father, Evan’s a dark horse in biking. If he plays golf like his father, he’s a liability. He is likely very good at climbing, if he follows the advice to climb with his feet (given mad hockey skills). Hoops? Unlikely improved since 6th grade. And Nick, my nephew and a solid athlete who probably plays golf as badly as his brother Eamonn, but talks a better game.
And what about the old men? What do Chris Roy, Gus, Gary, Fes, Chris Heffernan, and rookie Greg Ossi bring to the table?
No better athlete who has never won the overall trophy than Chris Roy. Chris Heffernan medaled in mountain biking once and named his first-born son after the second greatest Celtic ever. Chris Doyle has medaled in basketball and biking, plus he beat Gary at fusball during the rock climbing event in 2009. Gary bikes more than anyone except Chris Roy. Gus is Gus. And Greg Ossi builds mandolins, mulls his own cider, played guitar for Skajellifetti (not an Italian ska band, sadly), and comes in as a true old-man rookie, which usually means competing smarter and at a level that steadily drops off over the years. He may actually be decent at golf, too.
Prologue stage includes the draft. Training starts tomorrow.