Caleb Webb is pictured celebrating his 3200-meter victory at the 2015 CIF-State Championships. (Credit: Regan Rhames)
Caleb Webb, a 2015 graduate of Big Bear High School and the CIF champion for 3200 meters at the State Meet that spring, has been selected as the Greatest Combination Boys Distance Runner of the Decade in a poll tournament that closed Wednesday night.
Webb received 2,805 votes, 54.73 percent, in holding off Jesuit senior Matt Strangio, a two-time State Meet champion, in an epic back-and-forth finale where voting support for both athletes was unprecedented across this as well as a similar girls distance poll tournament that ended last week.
Webb is a redshirt senior at the University of Portland, which also happens to be Strangio's future school. Webb was Portland's top finisher in leading the Pilots to a 10th place team finish at the NCAA Division I championships in November and also earned all-conference academic recognition.
In the poll tournament involving 32 of the top combo distance runners between 2010 and 2019, Webb was a longshot in the initial seeding. Yet, carried by tremendous voting support, Webb advanced past Callum Bolger (San Luis Obispo/CS/2017) by 21 votes in the first round, and Robert Brandt (Loyola/SS/2015) in the second round, also by 21 votes.
In his third-round matchup with one of the pre-event favorites, Nico Young (Newbury Park/SS/2020), Webb received 426 votes to win by 36 votes. In the semifinal against Liam Anderson (Redwood/NC/2019), Webb received 455 votes to win by 189 votes.
In the finale against Strangio, Webb's margin of victory was 485 votes but it wasn't a wire-to-wire victory. Just over a day into the final, Webb led by 11 votes. Strangio's support surged over the next 24-plus hours to a 71-vote lead (51.11 percent). Tuesday was a pivotal day for Webb, who picked up more than 1,100 votes -- nearly 2.5 times more than Strangio -- in about a 36-hour window to take the lead for good.
In winning the State 3200m title in 2015, Webb finished in a personal-best time of 8:47.30, which ranks seventh in the decade and is the 18th best performance in state history. He was also was a 3200m finalist in 2014, a two-time Southern Section D4 champion for 3200m, and the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 1600m champion in 2015, winning in 4:11.72, his PR.
Post-3200m Championship Interview with Caleb Webb
About This Tournament
This poll tournament began with 32 of the best boys distance runners in California between 2010 and 2019. This is based on track times and results without regard to XC. Runners were selected based on top 800/1600, 1600/3200 and 800/3200 combined rankings within the decade, as well as State Meet results. Single-distance-event specialists that do not rank among the top tier of either of the three combined event PR options, were only considered to fill out the 32-runner bracket. As a result, all 1600m and 3200m State Meet champions in the decade are included but not all 800m champions. The final cut to 32 was subjective.
Boys were placed in ranking groups of four based primarily on their combined rankings. Results at the State Meet were also strongly considered. Once in groups, boys were ordered alphabetically. Strangio was in the top group, Webb was ranked in the seventh group.