Foot Locker Cross Country
Nov 25 - Dec 9, 2006

a DyeStat featured meet

2006 Foot Locker Northeast

November 24, 2006

Final Predictions
Forys over Gruenewald; Neely Spence could surprise

by Steve Underwood


Saturday’s FL Northeast Boys Top Ten Picks
(last “ranking” in parentheses)

1. Craig Forys, NJ (1)
2. Tommy Gruenewald, NY (2)
3. Paul Springer, PA (4)
4. Jason Weller, PA (5)
5. Sintayehu Taye, MA (6)
6. Brian Rhodes-Devey, NY (7)
7. Steve Murdock, NY (3)
8. Donn Cabral CT (8)
9. Brandon Jarrett NJ (13)
10. Doug Smith NJ (15)

Five darkhorses most likely to sneak in:  Mark Amirault MA, Matt Centrowitz MD, Matt Ciambriello NJ, Ryan Collins MA, Kevin Gill MA,

Contenders reportedly not running:  Kyle Dawson PA (NTN),

The race:  Out of the 4 FL regional boys races, this is the most eagerly anticipated showdown at the top.  The two Manhattan principals and successive record-setters that incredible day at Vanny, Craig Forys NJ and Tommy Gruenewald NY, return to finally face each other.  Both raced hard last week, but neither will be making an NTN appearance, so one would think they’ll both go all out for the win.  It should come down to who has the best kick, and that should be Forys.

It’s hard to pick against either of those two in the top two; it’s also hard to pick after that.  The biggest question mark is Sintayehu Taye MA, who is the top returnee after his runner-up finish last year, but has raced very sparingly this fall again – after a spring where he was hurt and didn’t race, either.  Pretty hard to put him ahead of the top two, but tempting to put him third.  Finally he ends up fifth, behind the outstanding PA duo of Paul Springer and Jason Weller.

Springer and Weller have split their two meetings, at district and state, but Springer should be a little tougher on the hills of Vanny, where he ran 12:28 to win his division at Manhattan.

One runner who definitely looks like a run-to-qualify guy here would be Steve Murdock NY, what with his admitted illness last week and his Shen team locked in for NTN the following week.  It stands to reason that he may come in behind Brian Rhodes-Devey as he did last week – not like that’s an “easy” task; if BRD has a good day, he could be in the top three himself.  He’s been inconsistent this fall, but had perhaps his best race of the season last week at Feds, getting 2nd.

After that, the tough call is where to put the next best guys from Jersey and the New England guys.  Not much basis for comparison.  Donn Cabral has been the man in CT and was the New Englands champ and he should get one in for his “region.”

Preseason high-ranker Mark Amirault MA has struggled with injury most of the year and it’s hard to see him running at the level he’d need to make it.  Conversely, MIAA all-state champ Ryan Collins is fast – he beat a Victor Gras mark at state – but green at this level against guys like these.

The Jersey guys, on the other hand, have been pretty solid in the shadow of Forys the last two weeks.  Brandon Jarrett, whose school is not part of those meets, has a big victory at Brown and also raced Manhattan, taking 2nd behind Springer in his race.  He gets the #9 spot and super soph Doug Smith, who had the 2nd best time in the Group meets, 10th.

One other to really watch (and wonder) for is Matt Centrowitz MD, who dominated his state this year, months after his stirring Penn Relays 3k win, but hasn’t raced outside of there.


Saturday’s FL Northeast Girls Top Ten Picks
(last “ranking” in parentheses)

1. Neely Spence PA (4)
2. Danielle Tauro NJ (1)
3. Hannah Davidson NY (2)
4. Emily Jones MA (6)
5. Callie Hogan NY (7)
6. Shelby Greany NY (5)
7. Ashley Higginson NJ (3)
8. Elizabeth Deir NY (9)
9. Keely Maguire MA (11)
10. Caitlin Lane NY (8)

Five darkhorses most likely to sneak in:  Kacey Gibson PA, Bri Jackucewicz NJ, Amanda Marino NJ, Allison Sawyer NY, Allison Smith MD

Contenders reportedly not running:  Marika Walker MD (NTN),

The race:  Readers of these predictions may think at this point, the prognosticator has finally gone mad.  “Picking against Danielle Tauro??? Has he lost his mind???”

But there are two good reasons why one of track’s best and most popular athletes may not win.  One, she doesn’t have to, and two, Neely Spence of PA.

It kind of went under the radar, but Spence – the very talented PA 3A champ who’s homeschooled and the daughter of 1991 World Champs Marathon medalist Steve Spence – ran her first truly all-out race of the year two weeks ago at the NYRRC champs in Vanny.  The result was 17:37 – a faster time than what Nicole Blood won it with last year.  Nuff said there.

Can Tauro run that fast at Vanny?  Probably, but does she really want to try that hard after fending off Ashley Higginson the last two weeks in Jersey’s state series, which were only her 2nd and 3rd races of the year?  Last year, Tauro ran a measured effort in qualifying and it wouldn’t surprise if she did the same this time.

For Higginson, in fact, it would be exceptionally wise, as she has chased Tauro hard the last two weeks AND has NTN to run between the FL races.  Hence, picking her 7th instead of the higher place she is capable of.

Meanwhile, NY Feds and Eastern States champ Hannah Davidson will probably want to give Tauro a run for her money, but figure on Tauro 2nd and Davidson 3rd.

Otherwise, it’s going to be mostly the NY domination we’ve seen in recent years.  Callie Hogan is running very well right now, and Shelby Greany has been steady all season.  Liz Deir’s had a fine year, though not quite as well as she wanted at Feds, while Caitlin Lane has struggled a bit recently.  Expect all four of them to make it, though, with the latter three all making repeat trips (as will Higginson and Tauro).

But breaking up the NY domination will be Massachusetts’ top two runners, Emily Jones and Keely Maguire.  They went 1-2 in the MIAA All-State D2 race last week in excellent times for a hard course, and Jones owns a victory over Hogan at Brown, and a fourth at Eastern States.

If any of the above have a bad day, expect several others to fight hard to get in, including 2005 qualifier Bri Jackucewicz (coming back from injury) and Amanda Marino from Jersey, and Allison Smith from MD.


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