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Nov 25 - Dec 9, 2006

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2006 Foot Locker Favorites
Northeast Boys - Pre-Season

Eight top runners could win it all or lose it all
in an unpredictable region

Regional Top 15 - Bios

Craig Forys

by John Dye
Tom Gruenewald

by Vic Sailer / PhotoRun
Mark Amirault

by Vic Sailer / PhotoRun
Brian Rhodes-Devey

by John Dye
Sintayehu Taye

by John Dye
Steve Murdock

by John Dye
Matt Centrowicz

by John Dye
Paul Springer

by Don Rich

by Steve (steveu) Underwood

This is one region where what happens at FL Northeast at Van Cordtland Park could be distinctly different from what happens in San Diego 2 weeks later … or not.  It is definitely the deepest, most talented region, but some of its key players are also rather unpredictable. And NE runners often struggle, in general, with the transition between NE weather and courses, and the FL Finals conditions, whether in Cali or Florida.

To get a good read on it, it’s instructive to start with last fall and work our way to the present.

Going into Foot Locker NE week last year, Colts Neck NJ jr Craig Forys, Guilderland NY jr Brian Rhodes-Devey, and Chatham NJ sr Ben Massam were looking like the most dominant runners in the region; most of the standouts from NTN powers Fayetteville-Manlius NY and Saratoga NY were going to bypass the meet, and the jury was out on the super-talented Taye brothers, who had gone from Maine public school to private MA academy and hadn’t faced prep competition all fall. The region had lost potential national champ Craig Miller PA to injury.

Well, the Tayes destroyed the field at Vanny, while Forys, Massam, and Saratoga’s usual leader Steve Murdock all had disastrous days (Murdock’s teammate Greg Kelsey made it). Meanwhile, BRD made it, but so did modest surprises like PA’s Josh Hibbs. The Tayes were touted as contenders for the national title, but on a warm day and as has been the case in many years, the NE struggled in San Diego, with only one in the top 16.

So what has happened since among the key returning contenders?  After a few good indoor races, Sintayehu Taye spent the spring on the shelf with an injury (while brother Ayalew shone at NIN and NON), as did Murdock. Forys and BRD were each brilliant at times, but underperformed in others. The last effort this spring for each, the NON mile, was a bummer for the NE returnees, with Forys getting 6th and BRD 8th in the fast heat.

Now then, as we enter the fall, it’s one thing to rank the contenders, but another to consider their potential. Would it really be a surprise if any of the top eight won the region? Would it be a surprise if the 1st and 5th placers in the region switched places at FL Finals? Are most of them good enough to even win the whole thing? The answer is, mostly, yes.  These eight, including some that didn’t run at Vanny last fall,  have displayed that level of championship form and most have had significant struggles. Let’s break them down:

  • Craig Forys: After a prodigious sophomore year, his jr harrier campaign, through a NJ MOC triumph, looked destined to continue to San Diego with high honors. But he struggled to 28th at Vanny and moved on to indoor. There he was spectacular, ringing up two 4:05 relay legs and marks of 4:09y and 8:59y, the latter netting him a fine 2nd at NIN. Outdoors, he had the magical 8:56 at NJ MOC, but relative disappointments at Penn (2nd-3k) and NON (6th-mile). Despite the ups and downs, though, it adds up to a #1 spot in these rankings. If he can mature as a runner and balance out as a senior, he can contend for the national title.
  • Tommy Gruenewald (ran NTN, but not FL Northeast):  Talk about maturing … While always the supreme team player, whether in CC or in track relays, Tommy G. still came into his own individually during track. When let loose on his own, he responded with 8:59 and 9:01 runs. What the Fayetteville-Manlius sr hasn’t done yet is compete fresh in a big race with major national players. This fall will be different for him; instead of being part of the tough F-M pack with Owen Kimple and the rest, he’ll be expected by most to lead all the time. He’s got the talent, though, and he’s as tough as they come.
  • Mark Amirault: Last fall, the junior was the best in an average state, regionally speaking.. He didn’t compete in FL NE. But indoors he started putting up some big 1600/mile times, then broke through outdoors with a 9:01y at Hartford. Confirmation against competition was needed – and it was delivered with his 8:59y at NON. If the Xaverian star can keep improving, HE could be the best in this region.
  • BRD: At his best, Rhodes-Devey can compete with anyone in the region. Witness his outkicking Murdock for the AA State title last year and ruling Feds … or his 4:08 relay leg at Penn. But mixed with those fine efforts have been the mundane and disappointing, some related to injuries or health issues. BRD’s 1:52 800 speed can be a backbreaker if he’s there at the end.
  • Sintayehu Taye: When Sinta’s at HIS best, well … you know the rest. He smashed into the national spotlight with that great 4:09/9:01 double in the Maine state meet his freshman year in 05, but when he and Ayalew transferred to Cushing Academy in MA, they were relegated mostly to club events, like the Mayor’s Cup XC race in Boston. Both so thoroughly dominated at Vanny that they looked like certain top-5 contenders in San Diego, but the hot weather and hot pace was too much. Now Sinta’s coming back from injury all spring and has a long road back. Ayalew is out of eligibility, but they could still train and compete together in club races.
  • Paul Springer: When folks talked about PA’s top preps distance boys at the beginning of the spring, names like Craig and Brad Miller came up, or Jake Walker, or super soph Vince McNally … but not Unionville jr. Paul Springer, who was 10th in the 3A State race in cross. But Springer got really serious in his training this spring and breakthroughs started popping up all over the place. The 9:19 runner rather suddenly dropped an 8:28.65 3k at Penn, then a stunning 9:03.58 at his region meet. With a tough breeze to battle at State, he improved again to a winning 9:01.72. At NON, he gave the mile a shot, clearly not his better distance, and hit 4:14.99, just off his PR 4:13.33 (1600). Now a senior, he and the comebacking McNally will lead a great PA group this fall, but Springer will need to learn how to race head-to-head with the big boys.
  • Matt Centrowitz: If any athlete can point to a singular breakthrough, it would be Centrowitz’s run at Penn. The 8:20 3k with a strong finish confirmed the talent many knew was there for the Broadneck HS, MD junior and son of the former American-Record holder in the 5k with the same name. But more common have been races like his 41st at FL NE last year or his 13th at NON in the fast heat. The maturation process that comes with being a senior, plus good health, will hopefully create the consistency that can lead to a great season.
  • Steve Murdock: When then-sophomore Steve Murdock ripped his 9:11.40 for 2nd at NIN, great things were seen for him. With a super Toga team last fall, he was the man at times, but also capable of blowing up, sometimes because of too-fast starts. He was a strong 2nd behind BRD at AA State and Feds, then a DNF at FL NE and 16th at NTN. Indoors, he started putting up some great times again, but couldn’t get it done at NIN and was injured most of outdoors. Now he’s at Shenendehowa, and we’ll see if the new environment and a senior year can consistently bring out the best in Murdock.

It’s hard to imagine an FL Northeast race where one of those eight doesn’t win and at least five of them aren’t in the top eight, but it’s possible. One guy capable of breaking up the party is Liverpool NY sr Colin Heenan, whose late-season run got him up to 3rd at Feds and 14th at FL NE. He’s the No. 3 returnee, but his track times were not of the caliber of most of the others. We’ll soon see how much that matters.

Who else should be considered? Delaware runners Brian Sklodowski and Dominic Della Pelle ran 4:11 and 4:13y this past spring, and Sklodowski is the #8 returnee. The state has never had a FL finalist. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if the talent and potential of young, relatively inexperienced Vince McNally PA and Doug Smith NJ will be fulfilled. McNally missed much of track before running 4:15 for 2nd in 3A state, but last fall he ran a legit 15:02 behind a Craig Miller 14:56 at an invite, then got 4th at state as a soph. He didn’t run FL NE. Smith didn’t run XC at all, playing soccer in the fall, then broke out with a 9:14 as a freshman for 4th at NJ MOC.

Speaking of PA, the state’s 2007 class has not just Springer, but Jason Weller (9:09) and Kyle Dawson (9:12). Outside of Amirault and Taye, it may be tough for New England states to break into the mix, but Don Cabral CT and Kevin Gill MA probably have the best chance. Also watch out for Corey Robinson NY (9:14) and Ben Hall NY (24th at FL NE last year, but not as good in track).

Foot Locker Favorites - Northeast Boys Top 15 - Pre-Season


Last Year: Finals/Reg. Returning Finals/Region Comments
1. Craig Forys, 2007, Colts Neck HS, NJ X/28th NE X/5th Probably best miler and as talented as anyone; Can he win at Vanny? Ran solid at Manhattans.
2. Tommy Greuenwald, 2007, Fayetteville-Manlius, NY X/DNC NE X/X

Will be tougher for F-M to make NTN this year, so may focus more here. Vanny will be tough for him.

3. Mark Amirault, 2007, Xaverian HS, MA X/DNC NE X/X Really improved during track to post 9:01y and 8:59y and climb the list
4. Brian Rhodes-Devey, 2007, Guilderland HS, NY 25th/6th NE 6th/2nd "BRD" has best 800 speed; must be healthy and consistent; Class AA NY win was big last year.
5. Sintayehu Taye, 2008, Cushing Acad., MA 23rd/2nd NE 5th/1st Defending NE champ unproven in San Diego, but could well be "the man" at Vanny if he heals from injury.
6. Paul Springer, 2007, Unionville HS, PA X/DNC NE X/X A real revelation in track, ran 9:01 in bad conditions at state. Needs big meet experience.
7. Matt Centrowitz, 2007, Broadneck HS, MD X/41st NE X/11th Big breakthrough was 8:20 win at Penn for son of all-time US star; needs consistency & to prove self in XC.
8. Steve Murdock, 2007, Shenendehowa HS, NY X/DNF NE X/X THE transfer story now; Super talent injured mostly in spring, but 9:10i. Has talent to win region
9. Colin Heenan, 2007, Liverpool HS, NY X/14th NE X/3rd Didn't put up any big marks in track, but his end-of-season surge at Feds (3rd) and FLNE (14th) was huge.
10. Jason Weller, 2007, Boyertown Area HS, PA X/DNC NE X/X Built on good CC season with a track campaign that ended with a 9:09 behind Springer at state
11. Brian Sklodowski, 2007, Tatnall HS, DE X/35th NE X/8th After good FLNE race last fall, got slow start in spring, but then exploded with state record 4:11 at DE MOC.
12. Vince McNally, 2008, Conestoga Valley, PA X/DNC NE X/X Stunned PA harrier nation with early-season 15:02 behind Craig Miller, later 4th at state, but injured much of track.
13. Doug Smith, 2009, Roxbury HS, NJ X/DNC NE X/X Might be a little much to ask of someone in their first season of XC, but 9:14 as freshman is special.
14. Corey Robinson, 2007, Greece-Odyssey HS, NY X/76th NE X/26th Made big jump up when he ran 9:14 to win unseeded section at state (6th overall)
15. Kyle Dawson, 2007, Coatesville HS, PA X/DNC NE X/X Like some others, his 3200 at state put him in a new class; in this case, a 9:12.91; leads prime NTN contender

Honorable Mention (15, alphabetical order): Don Cabral CT, Dominic Della Pelle DE, Isaac Dunkleberger PA, Kevin Gill MA, Ben Hall NY, Andrew Hanko NJ, Brandon Jarrett NJ, Ryan McDermott NY, Anthony Merra NH, Chris Moen MD, Kyle Soloff NJ, Christian Thompson NY, Charles White NY, Chris Williams NY, Lucas Zarzeczny PA


1. Craig Forys, 2007, Colts Neck HS, NJ
2006 Track:  6th NON 4:11.30y, 8:56.14 1st NJ MOC, 2nd Penn 3k 8:21.82, 2nd NIN 8:59.98yi, two indoor 4:05 relay legs, Grp3 9:14.85-1st/4:15.58-1st, 4:09.77i NJ Arm Inv-O, 9:15.11i 1st NJ MOC
2005 CC:  28th FL Northeast 16:09, 1st NJ MOC 15:34, 1st Grp3 15:55, 2nd Manhattan ‘B’ (7th overall) 12:48 (2.5M)
2005 Track:  9:07.38y 10th NON, 4:11.27 1st NJ MOC, 9:11.49 1st NJ Group
2004 CC:  DNC FLNE

2. Tommy Gruenewald, 2007, Fayetteville-Manlius, NY
2006 Track:  9:01.75 1st State, 8:59.32 1st New Hartford, 8th NIN 9:18.10yi, 9:13.56 1st Section, 9:06.27i 1st Section, (two relay legs of 4:12)
2005 CC:  4th NTN 16:48, DNC FL NE, 5th Feds 16:20, 7th AA State 15:39, 6th Manhattan ‘C’ 12:56
2004 CC:  36th FL Finals 16:33, 9th NTN 16:17, 6th Feds 16:10

3. Mark Amirault, 2007, Xaverian HS, Westwood, MA
2006 Track:  9th NON 8:59.82y, 9:01.64y 1st Hartford Inv, 1st State 9:14.07y, 4:11.64 1st MIAA State, 4:15.68i 2nd Dartmouth
2005 CC:  DNC FL NE, 1st MIAA State 15:59, 1st MIAA East D1 16:10

4. Brian Rhodes-Devey, 2007, Guilderland HS, Slingerlands, NY
2006 Track:  15th NON 4:15.73y (8th Sect. 3), 4:10.66 1st Sub. Council, 4:11.40 2nd State, 4:13.22y 1st Eddy Meet, 4:16.14 1st Section, 8:31.41i 3k 1st Yale, 6th Millrose 4:19.45y, 1st Hispanic Games 4:13.19y.
2005 CC:  25th FL Finals 15:44, 6th FL Northeast 15:36, 1st Feds 15:57, 1st AA State 15:26, 1st Manhattan ‘A’ (5th overall) 12:44 (2.5M), 1st Burnt Hills 15:13, 3rd McQuaid (seeded Lg.) 15:08, 2nd Sub. Council 14:54 (3M)
2005 Track:  1st Eddy 4:13.49y, 3rd State 1:52.25, 1st Ballston Spa 9:16.93
2004 CC:  DNC FLNE

5. Sintayehu Taye, 2008, Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA
2006 Track:  (injured outdoors) 2:29.60 1000m BU Inv., 8:44.85i 3k USATF NE
2005 CC:  23rd FL Finals 15:43, 2nd FL Northeast 15:29, 1st NEPSTA II 15:29, 2nd Canterbury 15:56, 2nd Pingree 15:32
2005 Track:  2nd NE Ch. 9:01.68, 9th NON 9:06.68y, 1st ME ‘A’ State 4:09.69
2004 CC:  24th FLNE 16:10

6. Paul Springer, 2007, Unionville HS, PA
2006 Track:  9:01.72 1st 3A State, 9:03.58 1st District, 5th Penn 3k 8:28.65, 4:13.33 2nd Baldwin Inv, 4:14.99y 13th NON (5th Sect. 2),
2005 CC:  10th 3AState 16:04, 3rd Dist1 15:15, 6th Steel City 16:31.

7. Matt Centrowitz, 2007, Broadneck HS, Annapolis, MD
2006 Track:  16th NON 9:16.18 (13th Sect. 2), 1st Penn 3k 8:20.09, 9:13.68 1st 4A State, 11th NIN 9:20.38yi
2005 CC:  41st FL Northeast 16:15, 1st 4A State 16:01

8. Steve Murdock, 2007, Shenendehowa HS, NY
2006 Track:  (injured most of outdoor), 9:10.33i 1st State Ind, 17th NIN 9:32.73iy, 9:11.54 1st Section, 4:16.83yi 5th Hispanic Games, 4:17.20yi 3rd Yale Inv
2005 CC:  DNF FL Northeast, 16th NTN 17:08, 2nd Feds 16:10, 2nd AA State 15:26, 4th Great American ROC 15:28, 1st Sub. Council 14:42 (3M), 2nd Section 15:13, 1st Manhattan ‘E’ (22nd overall) 13:01 (2.5M)
2005 Track: 
2004 CC:  26th FLNE

9. Colin Heenan, 2007, Liverpool HS, NY
2006 Track:  4th Sect3 9:38.97, 5th Sect3AA 4:28.28, 4th Loucks 9:33.22
2005 CC:  14th FL Northeast 15:57, 3rd Feds 16:16, 15th 2A-State 15:51, 5th Manhattan ‘B’ 13:13.

10. Jason Weller, 2007, Boyertown Area HS, PA
2006 Track:  9:09.14 2nd 3A State, District 9:15.98-2nd/4:22.86-3rd,, Shaner Meet 4:19.19-2nd/9:16.25-1st,
2005 CC:  4th 3A-State 15:41, 2nd District 15:12, 1st Steel City 15:49

11. Brian Sklodowski, 2007, Tatnall HS, DE
2006 Track:  4:11.93 1st DE MOC, D2 State 4:21.33-2nd/9:39.06-1st, New Castle Co. 4:18.78-2nd/1:57.38-2nd,
2005 CC:  35th FL Northeast 16:12, 1st D2 State 16:49, 1st New Castle Co. 15:33, 4th Manhattan ‘A’ 12:58 (2.5M),

12. Vince McNally, 2008, Conestoga Valley HS, PA
2006 Track:  2nd 3A State 4:15.49,
2005 CC:  DNC FL Northeast, 3rd 3A State 15:37, 2nd Gettysburg 15:02, 4th District 15:50, 2nd Steel City 15:56

13. Doug Smith, 2009, Roxbury, NJ
2006 Track:  9:14.61 4th NJ MOC, 17th NON 5k 15:43.80, 4th Grp4 9:28.15,
2005:  Played soccer.

14. Corey Robinson, 2007, Greece Odyssey HS, Greece-Athena, NY
2006 Track:  9:14.91 6th State (1st unseeded), 4:25.13 2nd Monroe Co., 9:35.12 2nd Sect5, 26th NSIC 5k 15:56.49.
2005 CC:  76th FL Northeast 16:34, 14th Feds 16:40, 2nd Class C State 15:49

15. Kyle Dawson, 2007, Coatesville HS, PA
2006 Track:  4th 3A State 9:12.91, 1st Unionville Inv 9:18.58, Ches-Mont League 4:20.49-3rd/9:35.83-1st,
2005 CC:  DNC FL Northeast, 7th 3A State 15:54, 4th District 15:16


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