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Metro staff Favorite 5

As the 2008-2009 high school competition year draws to a close, the Metro staff members who spend a great deal of their time at meets to look back over the last twelve months and select their five favorite events, moments, match-ups, interactions, observations, confrontations or celebrations. The things that stood out, stayed with them, stuck to memory long after the coverage was over and the headlines had faded. The only catch was that they had to actually have been there. Stunned by Anna Jelmini's throws double at her California sectional, but heard about it on the internet like almost everyone else? Doesn’t count. Head spinning when you got word of Albemarle's 4x800 battle against Morris Hills, but you were covering a meet elsewhere in the country? Not good enough. Five favorites you saw with your own eyes.

So, without further ado… a week’s worth of moments we were “in the house” to see.

Part 3 | John Nepolitan

Last year and this year I was asked to be part of Dyestat National’s look back at the recent school year in selecting my Favorite 5 – 5 outstanding performances or meets that you had the pleasure to be in attendance for.  Where those had more of a national feel to them, here are my Metro Favorite 5.

Cas Loxsom vs Duandre Barnaby at the CT Indoor Open Champs 
Cas Loxsom (Wilbur Cross, CT) had dominated the state in the 1000 and 600 meters.  Dominating the 200, 300 and 400 meters was Weaver’s Duandre Barnaby.  At the State Open Championship the two would meet in a showdown over 600.  It would be a classic battle of speed vs strength.  As the meet moved along you could feel the anticipation build until it was time for the seeded section.  Not sure If it was planned to always do it or did meet management see that it had something special, but the runners were to start in lanes to get them around the first turn without incident.  Out fast and jumping to the front off the break would be Barnaby, Loxsom would be forced to play catch up the entire race and in the end it would not to be.  The race was not boring in anyway as questions remained the entire way.  Had Barnaby gone out too fast?  Would Loxsom’s strength allow him to get back in the race in the closing meters?  In the final lap Loxsom would get clear and start a move on Barnaby, but the Weaver runner would have enough of a cushion to hold on and not only win, but set a new state record in the process.  The following week at the New England Championships Loxsom would regain the state record and then in the spring put together an amazing string of sub 1:53 performances over 800.  Barnaby was not done for the day and would come back to take the 300 meter crown and also be part of Weaver’s winning 4 x 400 team.

Chris Stogsdill’s win at the NYSPHAA XC Championships
Though the 2008 New York cross country season, Chris Stogsdill (Marcellus) had established himself one of the top 2 or 3 runners in the state. Running fast times and high placings at meets like Manhattan, Stogsdill had built a reputation of a runner who would push the pace in the middle of the race putting other racers into distress and then pull away for the win.  The NYSPHAA Class B race at Sunken Meadow would bring together the days best individual battle as Stogsdill would face three of the best the state had to offer in Alex Deir (Honeoye Falls Lima), Mike Hickey (Pearl River) and Bobby Andrews (Shoreham Wading River).  Early on the four would break away from the field and were still together as they headed to the courses signature hill “Cardiac”.  As the group headed into the woods fans began to speculate who would come down in the lead.  As fans made their way over to the finish area discussion could be heard and every runner had somebody making a case why they would come down with the lead.  Then with about 600 meters to go the runners re appeared running around the moat and it was Stogsdill alone, bit the others were not completely out of it.  Down the final straight Stogsdill’s legs began to give out on him, but the punishment he had dished out on the hill had taken its toll on the other three.  Once over the line Stogsdill would collapse as would the next three runners.  Since it was the final race of the day spectators began to leave to get to the awards ceremony, but it would take Stogsdill 30 miniutes to get his legs back and be able to walk to a car to take him to get his award.

Danbury Dream Invite
One of the criticisms of high school track meets is that they are long and boring.  With section after section of one event and little or no information given to spectators little is done to put on a show or make the meet truly exciting.  The Danbury Dream Invite at the end of the spring season goes against all of that.  With a short action packed schedule aimed at producing outstanding performances with just 1 section of just a few races, an announcer providing fans with information on each athlete as well as a race call, a great facility under the lights, and fans encouraged to come down onto the track to get up close and personal with the action it is what other meets should strive to be.  In two years the meet has become the highlight of my season and one that anyone that calls themselves a track fan should make their way to.  This years meet saw New York’s Terrance Livingston and Connecticut’s Cas Loxsom go head to head in an 800 dual producing best for most of the field, the host school run themselves into the seeded section of the NON DMR with a sub 10:10 clocking, a near Connecticut state record in the 2000 steeplechase by Tucker Schaefer (photo right) , and one of the year’s best hammer throws.

Emergence of new stars

Each year new stars start to emerge, this year two runners who will face each other many times over the 2009-10 season rose to a new level.  Ailsing Cuffe and Megan Patrignelli (photo right) each stamped themselves as among the state and national elite in 2008-09.  Cuffe would make her presence known from the start of the cross country season and end the season by qualifying for the Footlocker Nationals.  Cuffe had spent her early career as a race walker, but once making the switch to distance running she would rise to the nation’s elite ending her sophomore year in winning the USATF Jr 5000 crown and qualifying to represent the USA at the Jr Pan Am Championships. 
The indoor season would see Patrignelli rise to the nation’s elite with a 3rd place 2:10.25 finish at the NSIC meet in New York.  Known mostly as a 400 – 800 runner, Patrignelli would step up to the 1500 for the first time at the Crusader Relays and face Cuffe for the first time.  Sitting behind for 3 lap, Patrignelli launched a sprint with 300 meters to go and would go on to finish in 4:36.3 for one of the best times in the nation at the time.  The two would face a few more times in county and sectional competition with the result being the same and the race playing out the same as the Crusader race.  Each time the two faced off the finish time would get slightly faster.  At the New York State Championships the Monroe Woodbury junior would shake things up and pretty much jump to the front and challenge all to come chase her.  No one was able to keep up with Patrignelli who would go on to stop the clock at 4:25.65 for a the #3 time in the USA.  Patrignelli will give up soccer to run cross country in the fall and who knows what impact this will have on the already powerful New York girls cross country scene..


FM girls at NXN

Coming into the NXN Championships the Fayetteville Manlius girls team was expected to once again run away with the national crown. That is exactly what they did, getting to the front early – putting all challengers into distress early and fighting for each and every place right to the finish line.  It was not on the course that made a lasting impact on me, but what they did right after the race.  After a short celebration and hugs from family it was out the back of the chute to in the words of Coach Bill Aris – “Start working on #4”.  While the competition was off mixing with friends and family, the FM ladies were off on their own doing strides and already talking about how to prepare to return to Portland Meadows for yet another national title run.  While many will criticize that these young ladies are treated like machines and not allowed to enjoy the moment – nothing can be further from the truth.  Yes they are focused, but there is a mutual love between coaches and athletes rarely seen..  

All photos by John Nepolitan

Metro Favorite 5 Index