A special season became even more special as the little team that could went head-to-(merged)-head with some of the best teams from the the Northeast region at the Bowdoin Invite on Saturday, September 20. Battling generally far larger and older teams in a highly watched meet, Dobbs Ferry ate up Bowdoin's hill for brunch, spat it out, and again came through big time as the boys ran to a huge 2nd place finish in the Varsity race and the young girls team wedged their way in among state-ranked teams in stunning fashion.
In a year where Coach JP Kaminski's accolade of "Good job" to the troops is already becoming almost a given, the Eagles have pushed themselve up to a level almost unimaginable 2 or 3 years ago. Having earned a Section 1 #6 and a top 1-C ranking for the boys and a 1-C ranking of #5 for the girls, the teams appear set to hit the middle part of the season with feet flying.
On the boys side, the Eagles placed 2nd behind only the Fox Lane team, who are favored to win the 1-A title this year. Patrick Wortner again ran a scintillating race in 17:19 on one of his favorite courses, placing 3rd behind the top Westchester county runner, Iona Prep's Sean Halpin, and also Poly Prep's Graham Shorr. Four Eagles filed in between Brendan Wortner's medal-winning 14th place in 17:56 and birthday boy Evan Fallor's 18:50 to total 150 points and beat such teams as the #1 1-A team Brewster (ranked one place ahead of Dobbs in the Section 1 poll), and last year's #3 Westchester County team, Iona Prep. In the merged results of all teams in the elite Championship race and the Varsity race, Dobbs also finished just a few points behind Class A power Horace Greeley, ahead of highly regarded big schools such as Emmaus, PA , Commack, Curtis, and Guilderland and a long way from the other two 1-C teams at the meet, Pawling and Pleasantville.
While the Eagle guys' heroics are almost expected at this point, the progress of the girls is in some ways even more astounding and inexplicable. Having lost three of their top four runners from last year's extremely young team, the girls have just kept plowing ahead with a top 5 of mainly middle schoolers and are turning in hard-to- believe results. Placing 12th of 23 teams in a loaded field in Bowdoin's Varsity race, the Eagles finished just one place behind NJ's 9th ranked team, Colt's Neck (which beat Bronxville at the 2006 Cougar Invite), and ahead of the 14th ranked NY Class A team, New Paltz, and also 2006 Section 1 / Class A champion Horace Greeley. With a close pack of four runners taking places 65, 67, 68, and 69 behind medal-winner Sarah King's 25th spot, the Eagles just ran out of their minds.
On a day of good temperatures and ideal conditions, the boys' highlights included:
- Patrick Wortner steadily and smartly worked his way through the group of front runners to reach the top of the hill in 4th place and blasted the downhill and final mile as he barely got nipped in the battle for 2nd. Pat's time bettered his 2007 Sectional time by 16 seconds and gave him a Speed Rating of 166, a great score on Bowdoin's challenging course.
- Brendan Wortner broke the 18:00 barrier and jumped way up to a 154 SR. He was the second freshman in the race and 70th runner in the merged Championship \ Varsity results, which featured 589 runners.
- Viktor Mashalov returned after a harrowing escape from ACT exam hell and burned off some pent-up energy to take 32nd in the Varsity Race with an 18:25, lopping 16 seconds off his 2007 Sectional time.
- Pat Newman ran by far his best race at Bowdoin as he powered through the last mile to take 44th in 18:36, knocking 51 seconds off his 2007 Sectional time.
- After surviving a birthday celebration on the previous night with his buds, Evan Fallor experienced some midsection issues going up the hill but managed to put together a dive-bombing run on the way down to push home in 57th place in 18:50.
- Ryan Malpass was hindered by the accursed shin-splints ills common to young runners but teamed with George Epstein to bring home the Eagles' 6th and 7th positions in 92nd at 19:50 and 96th at 20:00.
- The Eagle crew in the JV was led by a hard-charging Taka Masuda, who finished 2 seconds behind George Epstein's Varsity Race time in 20:02, which earned him a big 22nd place. Close behind was captain Boris Opacic, who grabbed 43rd with a 20:59 time. Completing the Eagle flight was Yusuf Kapadia's 104th place in 23:43, Quinn Wright's 121st place in 25:09, and Keith Hickey's 156th place in 31:18.
Only eight girls raced at Bowdoin, and the highlights included:
- After missing an individual prize by one place in her first race as a 7th grader two years ago, Sarah King has a nose for the final prize place ever since, grabbing the last medal at Warwick in 2007 and doing the same at Bowdoin on Saturday. Moving up from the 52nd spot midway up the hill, her 25th place in 21:24 knocked 79 seconds off her 2007 Sectional time and put her in good standing for a run at a State Final place.
- Izzy Natale smashed the 23:00 barrier with a 22:50 time in a 65th place that lowered her 2007 Sectional time by 85 seconds. Izzy led the pack of 4 that is pushing their times downward at a dizzying pace.
- Rebecca Wiersma snipped 68 seconds off her 2007 Sectional time while taking 67th place in 23:11 as she continued to pace the fast-rising 8th grade crew.
- Clara Winder kept moving through the crowd before charging home 68th in 23:13, two seconds behind Rebecca and taking 100 seconds off her Bowdoin best.
- Chloe Wang sprinted home one place behind Clara in 23:16 as she fended off an opponent by .3 of a second and lowered her Bowdoin best by 143 seconds.
- Suzanna Halatyn and Sofia Maluf finished off the Eagles' runs with places of 104th in 25:31 and 117th in 26:11 as the Eagles came in 12th with 294 points.
- Kim Anker gets special attention for being the only Eagle to race in the JV race as a number of her teammates were nursing injuries. Kim pushed through her first Bowdoin race to finish 47th in 29:06.
The great results at Bowdoin leave Dobbs in a confident position going into the Warwick Invite next Saturday following a contest with Children's Village at Van Cortlandt Park on Tuesday. The Eagles should be entering the boys' state class ranks pretty high up this week [Monday correction: uh, apparently I was way off base], though they will slip down probably one place in the Section 1 polls as teams such as Fox Lane and Horace Greeley enter the polls following their first race on Saturday. An exciting week lies ahead, especially for the hosts of last Friday's pasta party who know that someone else will be facing the barbarian hordes this Friday.
Added note: the only big downside to the weekend was that the Dobbs boys were not deemed worthy of a State Class C ranking this week though many teams with Speed Ratings way below the Eagles' were put on the list. Alicia Silverstone starred in a movie that best describes this omission. Use it as an incentive for the Sectional race.