New York State
at Sunken Meadows
After a year of generally lucky weather conditions for the XC meets in the area, the final race for most runners dodged a torrential downpour by an hour as the New York State Public High School Championship was concluded on Saturday, November 8, at Sunken Meadows Park on Long Island under pretty good conditions. For the 24 1-C runners and their crazed fans, the day featured some great results highlighted by the lone team and sectional championships for Section 1 as the Bronxville girls held off Rhinebeck for the Class C title and got a double reason to celebrate when their Section won a somewhat surprising battle with Section 3 for the top spot. The boys also had reasons to be proud as Irvington moved up from a projected 5th place finish to take 3rd, the same place earned by the 1-C runners in the Section matchup.
The three Eagles in the race -- Patrick Wortner, Brendan Wortner, and Sarah King -- all gave strong performances in their final XC races of the season. Sarah ran in the first race of the day at 9:00 following a predawn wakeup call. Rated 32nd in NYS Class C going into the meet, she ran her usual moving-on-up-and-stifle-the-heaves race, advancing from 33rd at the 1-mile point to dash home 22nd overall and 6th among 1-C runners in 20.44.26. Knocking 69 seconds off her earlier time on the course at the St.Anthony's meet, Sarah upped her Speed Rating to a closing 105. She also kept up the tradition of the Eagle girls' earning even-year representation in the race, following Carey Hickey (Keith's big sis) who took 54th in 2004 at Chenango Valley and Paulina Nunez who got 28th in 2006 at Warwick.
Running 2 1/2 hours later, the Wortner guys finished 4 seconds apart running very different style races with Patrick taking 23rd overall and 3rd among 1-C runners with a 17:40.50 and Brendan coming in 23rd overall and 4th among 1-C runners in 17:44.60. Patrick went out hard from the start and stayed close to Irvington's champ Julian Saliani before settling back as Saliani placed 7th and teammate Ian Mathews finished 12th. Brendan stayed back early but blasted the last mile to pass fellow freshman Dayton Flannery of Bronxville and senior Marco Sammon of Croton Harmon and go 11 seconds better than his St. Anthony's meet time.
Though Brendan finished 1 second behind B-Class 8th grade runner Colin Kerr of Wayne, he was #1 among all freshman from NY in all classes, AA-A-B-C-D. On the girls' side, Sarah finished 6th among all 8th and 9th graders in Class C. For Patrick, 23rd was a big jump from the 36th place he took at the 2007 States at the North Pole, and eight of the runners ahead of him are departing seniors if you want to look ahead to 2009.
The dual championships in the girls Class C race were the fruits of a classic triumph of toughness. Previews and projections of the girls' Class C race had Bronxville as a slight favorite over top rival Rhinebeck from Section 9, with Tully Ratings projecting a 5 point Bronco win. Totaling the Speed Rating places of the top 10 competing runners from each Section resulted in Section 3 projecting to 209 points, followed by Section 9 with 256, and our Section 1 back at 3rd with 260. Boosted perhaps by the experience that the Broncos and Section 1 girls had gained from earlier meets at Sunken Meadows and their firsthand knowledge of the course's feared Cardiac Hill, the 12 girls pulled out great races on a day that sapped the legs and spirits of runners from other sections.
One runner who seemed pretty unaffected by the course was winner Erin Cawley of Newark Valley who followed up 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd place finishes in 2007, 2006, and 2005 to finally grab the title in her senior year. Though her Speed Rating for the race was 5 below her season's average, Cawley left her closest pursuer Katie Weisenburger of Pulaski 19 seconds behind. Rhinebeck's top trio of Annabel Clarke, Elizabeth Marvin, and Anna Clark were also a ways off their season averages but they placed 3rd, 5th, and 8th to take a seeming lock on the team title. Starting with two seniors and the 9th place and top 1-C runner Caitlin Hudson, Bronxville pushed through a pack of 5 runners sparked by a huge effort from longtime great Tori Flannery who ran 8 points above her rating to finish 13th. An 18th and 28th from 8th-graders Amelia Phillips and Meredith Rizzo and 31st from junior Henrietta Miers gave the Broncos just enough distance between themselves and Rhinebeck's 4th and 5th runners to win their 7th State title 47-51, with Cawley's Newark Valley team taking 3rd with 64 and a usually strong Tully team falling to 4th behind top runner Kelseigh Groth's 25th place.
A section's top 10 finishers among their 12 runners count in the Sectional scoring. With the Section 1 Broncos doing so well and the favored Section 3's team Tully falling well short, the way was open for the local girls to take their 4th Sectional title in 5 years after last year's distant second. The five Section 1 at-large runners came up big along with the Broncos' top 5 led by Pleasantville's junior Libby Lazare in 11th, Irvington's sophomore Annie Field in 17th, and Sarah King's 22nd. Pawling's junior Caitlin Jelinek and Croton Harmon's sophomore Sarah Costa closed the deal with 36th and 37th places as Section 1 outscored Section 3 (Tully) 222-252, with Section 9 (Rhinebeck) finishing 3rd with 284. The final two Bronco runners were senior Olivia Bruton in 50th and junior Katherine Marrone in 87th.
The boys' Class C race was expected to be a fairly close battle between reigning champion Newark Valley of Section 4, who was projected by Tully Ratings to be a 12 point favorite over Holland Patent, the winner of the Section 3's heated battle for their area's title. Irvington was projected for the same 5th place spot they earned last year. In the closest battle of the day, the reigning champs kept their title by 1 point 62-63. In the head-to-head team battle, the teams matched up really closely place-for-place, 3-9-13-15-21 to 5-10-14-15-19, with 2nd place Holland Patent owning the tie-breaker if they had been able to lop 1 point off the margin. The surprise team was the Irvington Bulldogs who ran 20 points better than the projections behind Saliani and Mathews to finish 3rd. Other Bulldogs in the great showing were senior Matt Menard in 57th overall, and the junior trio of Sean Lippin in 76th, Sam Lindberg in 77th, and Zach Siegel in 99th.
The boys Sectional battle went to the powerful Section 3 squad as expected as it bested Section 4 by a giant 191-345. Section 1 won a very close battle for 3rd over Section 9 by 391-399. The top runner in the race was Chenango Valley's Max Straneva who ran a 16:25 to finish with the 11th best time of runners from all classes. Seniors Robbie Argentine of Section 3's Canastota and Colin Seidl of Section 9's Sullivan West engaged in a great battle for 2nd with Argentine winning in exactly 17:00. By placing Saliani, Mathews, the Wortners, Dayton Flannery, and Sammon in the top 33, Section 1 was strong enough to move up in tandem with Irvington's team place from 5th in 2007 to 3rd. Bronxville senior Jack Hutton took 50th to end his great XC career.
A great time was enjoyed by the horde of fans following the adventures of the three Eagles and other Section 1 runners around the course. The races were followed by a walk to the Sunken Meadows Park beach where the Eagles showed why they were not in the finals of the NYS Stoneskipping contest. Among those besides parents and Coach K who made the trek were Izzy Natale and Lauren Hanley whose moral support was thoroughly appreciated. So now it's on to the upcoming Eagle XC Dinner at Sam's.