Eagles Go Out in Style at Sectionals as 3 Runners Win State Championship Berths
On a crisp, moderately sunny day for the Section 1 Championships at Bowdoin Park on Friday, November 6, the Dobbs Ferry XC squad completed the team competition portion of their season on a high point. The boys as expected finished 4th, placing 3 runners in the top 10 as they pushed out to a big lead after the first 3 places, but the greater depth of Pawling, Irvington, and Bronxville left the Eagles in 4th place for the full 5 spots. The girls rose to the occasion and scored their best finish with a 3rd place behind Bronxville and Irvington. With Patrick Wortner running to a 2nd place and Brendan Wortner a 4th place on the boys side, and Sarah King taking 3rd in the girls race, the Eagles repeated their 2008 performance and earned 3 of the 24 State Championship berths for Section 1 - Class C, behind only Pawling's 9 and Bronxville's 8. The top 7 runners from the championship team advance to the States accompanied by the top 5 runners from the other teams.
The outcomes of both races went pretty much as expected as both of the favored teams won and 8 of the 10 at-large individual spots for the States went to 2008 qualifiers, but there were some surprises. Pawling's Brandon Freyer entered the race with the highest Tully Rating but finished far behind winner Julian Saliniani of Irvington and the Eagles' Pat Wortner. Henrietta Miers, the senior from Bronxville who went into the Sectionals as the co-favorite, came down with the flu and was unable to compete. Finally, preseason favorite Libby Lazare of Pleasentville overcame a season's worth of ailments to reappear and earn her 4th straight State berth.
The Eagle guys ran an hour before the girls, and they had the instructions to just cut loose and go for it since no realistic title bid was on the line. George Epstein took the instructions literally and took the lead in the race for the first 1/4 mile and was followed inches behind by Brendan Wortner. Eventually the race settled down to a duel at the lead between Saliani and Pat Wortner with the big favorite Freyer running most of the race in around the tenth spot. In the last quarter mile, Saliani pulled away to win in a time of 16:43. Pat Wortner took the 2nd spot in 16:50, and a fast-finishing Freyer beat out Brendan Wortner for the 3rd spot. B-Wort finished as the top nonsenior in a time of 17:06. Bronxville's Dayton Flannery and Putnam Valley's James Hertzel claimed the last two at-large spots. Hertzel is the only newcomer among the at-large State finalists. Pawling won the meet at 60 points, with Irvington at 80, Bronxville at 100, Dobbs at 134, and Putnam Valley in 5th at 162.
For the Eagles, Epstein finished off the season with a 10th place finish at 18:04. 7th-grader Grant Sheely made waves by almost busting the 20:00 barrier with a 20:01 time for 52nd and a nifty 110 TR as the only boy in his grade at the entire Section 1 meet. Harry Wagner completed the Eagles scoring by taking 72nd in 21:02. James Majeau took the Eagles' 6th position in 82nd in 21:50, and Yusuf Kapadia was a few steps behind in 83rd and 21:52 as the only 8th grader at the meet.
The girls entered the Sectionals with expectations ranging from their 5th place prerace ranking to possibly stealing 2nd if all the stars aligned right. Even with Bronxville losing their top runner Miers to illness, there was no way any of the four pursuing 1-C teams would catch them. When 2nd-rated Pawling was unable to field a 5th runner, the battle for second opened up. The individual race was a battle between Pawling senior Caitlin Jelinek and Bronxville freshman Meredith Rizzo. Jelinek was too strong in the end and won in a time of 19:16. The Eagles Sarah King ran alone in 3rd for the last 2/3 of the race to qualify for the States with a time of 20:16. The remaining at-large spots for the States were taken by two repeaters, Irvington's Annie Field and the Panthers' Lazare, and newcomer Zoe Nagasing of Pawling. Behind Bronxville's top showing at 31 points, a close race between Irvington and Dobbs Ferry ended in the Bulldogs' favor by 82-86 margin with a 1 second difference in average time. Hastings had a far better-scoring top 4, but as expected they fell to 4th with 94 points as their 5th runner finished last.
Eagles captain Lauren Hanley made her last race for the team a good one as she broke into the top 20 with a 22:09 time for 19th and a 70 TR. Shanna Yue finished 25th in 22:52 to begin an Eagles pack with Mary Constant rising up for 31st in 23:24, Lila Walsh continuing her spectacular 7th grade season in 33rd at 23:28 and Chloe Wang finishing a half second behind for 34th. Rebecca Wiersma returned from ailments to end up 44th in 24:22.
The final Eagles on the course were the JV girls, running among 146 competitors. Clara Winder drove home in the top Eagles' spot at 25:58 for 87th. Kim Anker was next across at 26:17 for 93rd, followed by Suzanna Halatyn in 96th at 26:26, and Sofia Maluf at 113th in 27:15.
The season ends for the Eagles team with a lot of the pieces finally falling together in a strong finish, with the boys looking for reinforcements and then toward a trip to Bowdoin in 2010 for a potential battle with Bronxville, and the young girls team looking to continue their steady rise. Meanwhile, Pat Wortner, Brendan Wortner and Sarah King return to the State Championship meet with all standing within the top 15 runners in NY Class C. The trip to the course is a few hours longer this year, but the prospects are even rosier and the course a lot flatter. Should be fun.
(Note: As I had a bit of a snafu with a video ending at an inopportune spot in the girls varsity race finish, if you were taking pictures at the end of that race especially, please get them loaded up into the Sectionals 2009 album. If you're a member here, goto MyPage and use the Photo Uploader tool under Photos.) Videos can be seen at: