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Big Red Invitational Preview

Posted Tuesday, September 09, 2008 by Perry King
  Big Red 2007  

                  Eagles Open Season at Somers Big Red Invitational

(updated Tuesday, September 9)

Twelve days after an impressive opening showing at the hometown 5K Labor Day race, the Eagles once again start the official cross country season at Somers on September 13 in the Big Red Invitational. Coming off an impressive 2007 season, the boys will now be the favorites in the meet's Division II race, with Patrick Wortner the leader for the individual title, and the girls will be seeking to rehabilitate and develop with a solid performance in their competitive Division II race. The meet will be the second anniversary of the girls' stunning 2006 championship with a group of three high-schoolers and three 7th graders in the Eagles' first race after a year of nonqualification status.

Last year's race marked the emergence of Patrick Wortner among the top area runners as he battled an outstanding trio of Somers runners on their home course before falling back for a close 4th with an eye-opening 17:13 time. The boys lost a tie-breaker for 2nd place to the James O'Neill team behind champ Somers, but they established themselves as a fast-rising team with Viktor Mashalov, David King, Evan Fallor, and Brendan Wortner finishing between 18:18 and 19:09. The girls had a more trying time as captain Lauren Hanley had to fall back and a fairly young quintet of Sarah King, Sarah Coburn, Karen Maehara, Isabella Natale, and Sofia Maluf packed across the line in places 29-33 within 19 seconds of each other. The team got a good kick though when they won a tie breaker for 4th over Horace Mann as Maluf sprinted past their 3rd runner in the final yard to set up Hanley's 6th spot as the deciding place.

A dry Somers course will be one of the fastest ones that the Eagles will run this year. Three of the Eagle guys had their fasted 5K times there last year even though it was their first XC race. A big rain can turn the course into a quagmire that sucks off shoes, as happened in 2006. Last year most of the Eagles had sizable jumps from their Dobbs 5K times. This year could be different, but Patrick Wortner is well placed to break 2007 champ Todd Apgar's winning 16:48 time. With Evan Fallor, Brendan Wortner, Pat Newman, and Viktor Mashalov set to bust into the top 10 with times in the 17:00s and low 18:00s, the Eagles should take the Division II race if the expected teams run here again. One nice feature about the Big Red is that a team can put as many runners as they want into the varsity races and do not have to divide off JV runners. (However, medals are presented to the top 10 JV runners in the varsity races, with "JV" being defined as any runners who do not finish in his team's top 7.) There is also a short 2K Freshman race for the boys and girls though Dobbs has not previously participated in it.

On the girls' side, Libby Lazare, the repeat Dobbs 5K winner and lead runner on the Pleasantville Panthers, is expected to battle to repeat her big victory at the 2007 Big Red and push her previous 20:08 time down into the 19:00s. She will be strongly contested by Harrison's Emily Singer, one of the top 3 returning runners from Class A. With Lauren Hanley on the sidelines, the top somewhat healthy Eagles group of Sarah King, Izzy Natale, Karen Maehara and Rebecca Wiersma should be able to run in the 21:00 to 24:00 range and pick up some high places assuming a Brewster job is not pulled again. (In 2007, the large Class A Brewster team was allowed to run in the Division II race and dominate it while their boys ran in the Division I race. The meet director said he allowed Brewster to run in the second race on a DQ basis because they arrived after the Division I race, but since they were given the team championship trophy, 7 of the individual Big Red top-20 shirts, and are listed in official results as the winners, his explanation as usual is unsatisfactory.)

The preview below is subject to change and is based on the assumption that the teams that have often appeared at the Big Red in recent years will return, which seems a safe bet considering most of teams have registered for 2008 already. One additional wrinkle that may or may not have validity is a rumor posted on the Bronxville site stating that the top runner on last year's Brewster squad may be attending Pawling in 2008. As the runner was expected to be one of the top 2 in Class A, he would definitely be a big factor in Class C if he moved to Pawling. No confirmation of the move can be found on any team sites, but Lohud confirms that he has transferred from Brewster though he is not cited as being on Pawling. According to DyeStat blog info he has confirmed on Facebook that he is going to Pawling, though his health status following some injuries in track season is unknown.

Breakdown in order of size based on 27  registered teams with a 750 seed size cutoff used to divide out at 11 Division 1 and 16 Division II schools.
  • Div I: Arlington, Monroe Woodbury, John Jay - Cross River, Mahopac, Carmel, Yorktown, John Jay - East Fishkill, Brewster, Townsend Harris, Lakeland / Panas, Port Chester.
  • Div II: Harrison, Somers, Ardsley, Kennedy Catholic, Briarcliff, Dover, James O'Neill, Pleasantville, Hackley, Horace Mann, Riverdale, Packer Collegiate, Pawling, Dobbs Ferry, Millbrook, North Salem  

Division I Boys
Arlington should be the repeat winner with last year's top 3 of Adam Doherty, Jared Leslie, and John Muller taking the top spots. Washingtonville (not competing in 2008) kept the race fairly close last year, but a strong Mahopac team should be 2nd this year. Brewster could also contend if they return most of last year's team (but apparently not).

Division II Boys
Somers was a runaway winner last year but graduated an elite pack of Todd Apgar, John Turro, Pat Porteus, Vinny Cascio, and Doug Milde. The somewhat depleted Tuskers will be led by Pat Hashmall (3rd place in last year's race) and Rob Gorecki. Dobbs should have enough depth at the top to win the title this year with Patrick Wortner, Evan Fallor, Brendan Wortner, Pat Newman, and Viktor Mashalov all having great to good shots at the top 10 and Taka Masuda and George Epstein in range of a Big Red shirt.  Other top runners include Pawling's Brett Martini and Matt McNamee, Harrison's Christopher Repecki, James O'Neill's Louis Geller, and Ardsley's Steve Sklar. Last year's 2nd place team, James O'Neil, lost half their team to graduation and should fall back. Pawling is a question mark since they lost the elite core of last year's team and seemed to use the 2007 Big Red as a semi-JV training race. Our neighbor Ardsley should make a big jump up from last year's 9th place finish.

Division I Girls
Arlington girls took the first six places last year led by Chelsea Hanson and they should win easily this year. They should get a little more competition at the top though as Monroe-Woodbury's Elizabeth O'Donnell, Mahopac's Katie Dibello, Carmel's Ashley Maurer,  could break into the Arlington pack. Monroe Woodbury, Mahopac, and Brewster should fill in behind Arlington.

Division II Girls
Last year results were a botch because of the presence of Brewster in the field, which deprived Kennedy Catholic from getting a championship. This year both the battle for the team and individual honors should be tight. Pleasantville's Libby Lazare will need to work hard to retain her championship from Harrison's Emily Singer. Millbrook's Mallory Peterson, Pawling's Caitlin Jelinek, Kennedy's Breeda Mannion and Jessica Kenzor, Hackley's Abby Flock, Cara Roberts, and Molly Donovan, Packer's Kathleen Rominger, and Somers' Rachel O'Connell should also be near the top. The Eagles' Sarah King and Izzy Natale could also get top-10 finishes if they chop some more time off their Dobbs 5K times.

The team championship is a bit of a toss-up, but based on last year's Sectional results, the first week results,  and Speed Rankings for returning runners, the expected finish among the top teams would be Hackley, Pawling, Somers, Packer Collegiate, Pleasantville, Millbrook, Kennedy, Horace Mann, Dobbs Ferry, and James O'Neill, with the 11th - 16th places going to Dover, Harrison, Briarcliff, Ardsley, Riverdale, and North Salem.

**Finally, there is a Section 1 runner's blog on Lohud called Running Shorts that has some decent coverage about the region if you pardon the dumb stuff. The preview entry listed below follows the usual party line about the 2-month's distant matchup between Irvington and Dobbs, but even if you agree with the writer's team strength assesment, his scenario concerning a possible Sectional Meet outcome is just incorrect. No, Dan, the XC championship is not a dual meet where taking 2nd and 3rd does help quite a bit and no, Dobbs only has to run a very good race, not a perfect race. Last year Tappan Zee took the first two places in the girls Class A meet but still lost out to Ursuline. Also, the Bronxville girls graduated 4 of their top 8 runners, not two of their top 7 as Dan says, so take all blog info with caution.


Also note the link to interview with Bronxville's coach Jim Mitchell and top runner Tori Flannery at:


Important Note:   The King family at 43 Seneca St. has dibs on [correction] the second Friday night pre-race coed team dinner on September 19, which will feature blue-and-white pasta freshly cranked out by the willing servants (Eagle runners) from the Past-a-matic machine in various forms. Psyche trances for that Saturday's race [now at Bowdoin apparently] can be experienced around the new pseudo-Zen front rock garden.

The first dinner on September 12 before the Big Red is slotted for the Natales. Note that we also need volunteers to provide the bagel munchies for the bus ride to the Big Red. A signup sheet for both the dinner hosts and bagel providers for future meets will be available at the Somers race.

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