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New York Federation Meet

Feds Preview: NTN Background Buzz Permeates Super Finale

Saturday, November 18, 2006 Bowdoin Park, Wappinger Falls, NY

By Steve Underwood and Tom Cuffe

This Saturday’s 2006 New York Federation Meet boys and girls races at Bowdoin Park in Wappinger Falls NY will certainly have contrasting feels to them – with team and individual battles sometimes seeming like a rerun of last week’s public schools races, and sometimes not.  The team and individual titles will naturally mean a lot, but how it will all impact the post-season will mean more. That intense background buzz you will hear will be the consideration of who will end up with the Nike Team National bids when it all shakes out, and, to a lesser extent, who will look good on the Foot Locker contenders ledger after we see who wins, places and shows.

The drama will be high, indeed.

The Feds meet brings together the best public school teams from last weekend’s NYSPHSAA meet, the best proportionally from the five classes, as well as the best from the independent schools (AIS), the Catholic schools (CHSAA), and the New York City schools (PSAL).  In some cases, the non-publics will have team and individual impact, in others they won’t.  Likewise, the mixing of the public school classes will make a difference in some cases, but not in others.

To see what we’re talking about, let’s start with the girls and the team race.

Girls: Same 3-way 'AA' battle expected; Deir biggest threat to Sawyer or Davidson

Burnt Hills (Class A), East Aurora (Class B), and Greenwich (Class C) all hope to show the big schools in Class AA that they’ve got the stuff … but you’ll have to forgive Hilton, Saratoga Springs, and Fayetteville-Manlius if they don’t notice much.  They’re probably going to be pretty focused on each other … and what lies beyond that.

As most of the prep CC world now knows, Fay-Man pulled the big upset last week, nipping Hilton and Saratoga, 67-71-73, and adding themselves to an already suffocating mix of teams trying to battle for the two NTN spots from the Northeast and maybe 1 or 2 hoped-for at-large bids.  Fay-Man was NE #5 last week to Toga’s #1 and Hilton’s #2.  But what makes it really tough is that dominant teams from #3 Radnor PA and #4 Colts Neck NJ have also made great arguments for spots from at least the at-large pool.

As of Thursday night, it was uncertain how the rankings this week would fall.  Probably the best scenario for Radnor and Colts Neck this week would be for one team to blow the other two away – but how likely is that to happen?  Colts Neck has their own Meet of Champions to win and, with the return of #2 runner Bri Jackucewicz to compliment sr standout Ashley Higginson, looks awfully good.  Radnor’s regular season is done, but it continues to make convincing arguments about its dominance of a quality slate of PA teams.

But wait, this is about the NY Feds meet, right?

Fay-Man didn’t have anyone at the very top last week, but MacKenzie Carter and Kathryn Buchan were 7th-8th for a fine 1-2.  Then Fay-Man’s 3-4-5 did the job as well, with the latter two really sealing the win.  Conversely, that’s where Toga and Hilton will have to step it up this week if they want to win.

The other three aforementioned NY teams which have been ranked in the NE top ten this year will likely find themselves challenging to take 4th.  No non-public schools are expected to offer competition to these big six.

Individually, the top AA runners are much more likely to be pressed by the best of A-B-C.  Hilton sr Allison Sawyer stunned Saratoga jr Hannah Davidson last week to take the AA crown in the best time of the day, 17:36.  Davidson (17:41), the Eastern States champ who was previously unbeaten, will surely be out to rule the roost again.

But it won’t just be the two of them.  Class B champ and Honeoye Falls-Lima sr Liz Dier was a Foot Locker finalist last year and hasn’t been pushed all fall upstate.  Her 17:39 last weekend was just a few ticks behind Sawyer and ahead of Davidson.  Others from ‘B,’ like Johnson City jr Paige Mullins and East Aurora’s #1 Catherine Lussardi, could also challenge for high spots.

In Class A, Scotia-Glenville jr Jillian King led four under 18:15 with her 18:02.  And from Class C is merely the highest returning FL NE finisher in Greenwich jr Caitlin Lane, who won that race easily in 17:55.  Even Class D has Seton Catholic jr Mary Kate Champagne in 18:06.

From AA, there are several others to be concerned with, including Bay Shore sr Callie Hogan, Suffern soph Shelby Greany, Shultz’s teammate sr Caroline Shultz, and Carmel jr Kristin Reese – all between 17:52 and 18:15.

Last week, Davidson and Greany took it out hard, while Sawyer sat back and waited.  This time, the pace probably won’t be quite as fast.  If she can finish strong, it could be Deir for all the marbles.

Boys: It should be Shen and Murdock again

The boys team race doesn’t quite have the national/regional fascination factor.  On the other hand, there’s probably a more diverse group of teams that could claim the title, or at least a top-three finish. 

First, from the NTN perspective, Coatesville PA is in a good #1 spot and NJ doesn’t have a contender for NTN this year.  Shen is NE#2 and last week’s AA champ by a solid margin of 42-66 over Smithtown.  While it’s certainly possible that Shen could get upset by the AA runner-up or several other teams, it’s not likely and is less likely to displace the PA power.  The argument isn’t as loud for at-large teams, either, though one could certainly come from here.

Everyone knew Steve Murdock would make Shen better when he moved to the district from Saratoga this summer, but that he would exceed anything he’s done in his career was not necessarily in everyone’s crystal ball.  But the senior has gotten better and better all season until last weekend he ran way from Fay-Man sr warrior Tommy Gruenewald.  Murdock now merits mention with the best five or so runners in the country.

Still, don’t count out Gruenewald or Guilderland sr and defending champ Brian Rhodes-Devey, either, despite BRD’s finish in 8th last week.

While it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the top 2 besides Murdock and Tommy G., some other top contenders for the rest of the top 5 or so include F-M sr Geoff King and Warwick Valley sr Zack Price from AA, Candor sr Christian Thompson and Ticonderoga jr Lee Berube from Class D, CHSAA champ Ryan McDermott from Chaminade, and PSAL champ Keith Stapleton from Curtis.

Team-wise, Smithtown and fellow AA powers F-M, Liverpool, and Warwick Valley will battle for 2nd, or 1st if Shen falters.  Class A champ Queensbury could also be in the mix.  From the AIS, Collegiate was NE#1 after winning Great American earlier this year, but a loss at Brown and the loss of their #2 has set them back.  That #2, however, in the person of Dylan Trotzuk, is expected back this week and could make a difference.  Liverpool’s Colin Heenan, 3rd here last year, is also coming back from injury and will boost his team’s fortunes. As a team, McDermott's Chaminade could be a factor, too.
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