Victorious Manlius girls lead a New York parade into the top five
DyeStat New York editors Tom Cuffe (boys) and Dan Doherty (girls) catch up post-race with NE and NY teams at NTN
NE Boys - NY Boys - NY Girls - NE Girls (more NE reports to come)
John F. Kennedy was asked what his definition of success was in his first press conference after being elected President of the United States, and he stated that success was, “the full use of your powers along lines of excellence.”
The legacy of greatness that is Northeast and New York cross-country was on display Saturday in the Nike Team Nationals at Portland Meadows in Oregon. The NTN event (and believe me it is one heck of an event for these young men) is the only high school event in the nation that crowns a true national team champion. With Danbury XC Club (Danbury CT) leading the way in fifth, followed by Brookline XC Club (Brookline, MA) seventh, Bergen XC Club (Don Bosco HS in NJ) tenth, Warwick RC (Warwick Valley, NY) eleventh and Clifton Park TC (Shenendehowa NY HS) rounding out the NY/NE connection in fourteenth place, the power, style and grace which is part and parcel of the heritage of excellence of these wonderful programs, was once again demonstrated.
Danbury XC Club (Danbury CT)
5th place – 186 points
14 Ahearn, Willie 08 Danbury XC Club 16:35.0
15 Terry, Matt 08 Danbury XC Club 16:35.1
43 Schaefer, Tucker 09 Danbury XC Club 17:05.1
54 Bubniak, Joey 09 Danbury XC Club 17:11.8
77 Boudreau, Parker 08 Danbury XC Club 17:23.5
101 Rau, Justin 08 Danbury XC Club 17:43.1
110 Balmaseda, Ricky 08 Danbury XC Club 17:47.4
The Danbury team came in to the NTN title tilt as one of the best teams in the country, spending nine weeks at US #1 in The Harrier Cross-Country Rankings. Coach Rob Murray was looking for his Hatters to run their best race of the season and contend for a top five spot in the standing. His senior-laden squad, with tons of experience, did not disappoint as the were paced by the 1-2 punch of Willie Ahearn and Matt Terry, who feed off of each other the race and finished with a flourish to take home the 14th and 15th places. It was interesting and satisfying to watch Matt and Willie work together as teammates and brothers in arms the entire 5000 meters. The Danbury team had a 48-second five man compression in scoring 186 points and just missing the top four by six points.
Bergen XC Club (Don Bosco HS, NJ)
10th place – 272 points
21 Molke, Robert 09 Bergen XC Club 16:40.6
31 Belgiovine, Anthony 08 Bergen XC Club 16:52.4
51 Spencer, Leighton 09 Bergen XC Club 17:10.4
80 Vargas, Raphael 10 Bergen XC Club 17:25.4
89 Wyka, Stephen 08 Bergen XC Club 17:28.4
126 Rosas, Howard 10 Bergen XC Club 17:57.7
132 Carapezza, Michael 09 Bergen XC Club 18:04.7
Bergen XC, out of New Jersey and an at-large selection, proved their mettle in fine fettle by finishing tenth with 272 points. This Kevin Kilduff-mentored squad crossed the finish banner in 21, 31, 51, 80 and 89 and was quite pleased with their final placing. In speaking with the men of Bosco (during the regular season), they are extremely excited about the future as they return 5 of their top seven for 2008. Rob Molke, a junior, led the team in twenty-first place in a time of 16:40.6. This Catholic Track Conference power will be one heck of a team to look for next year.
New York powers Warwick and Clifton Park (the latter the champions of the Empire State as Shen) took on the nation’s best teams on a day that was a tad cold with flurries throughout, especially for the boys race. But the enthusiasm and zeal of these fourteen harriers would not take a back seat to the weather on this day. Both teams had set goals to prove the pre-meet predictions of finishes outside the top 15 wrong. Both teams wanted to uphold the great tradition and tremendous legacy of New York harrier pride. They would not disappoint!
Warwick XC Club (Warwick Valley NY)
11th place – 286 points
40 Fox, Michael 08 Warwick Rc-B 17:04.1 176.6 177
48 Ackerman, Bradford 08 Warwick Rc-B 17:07.6 175.5 175
50 Prial, Daniel 08 Warwick Rc-B 17:09.3 174.9 175
73 Florkiewicz, Ryan 08 Warwick Rc-B 17:21.2 170.9 171
75 Leuchanka, Alex 09 Warwick Rc-B 17:21.8 170.7 171
79 Miniger, Gregory 08 Warwick Rc-B 17:25.0 169.7 170
94 Luthin, Timothy 11 Warwick Rc-B 17:34.8 166.4 166
The purple, white and gold of the Wave were here to race and get a top ten finish. The Wildcats are coached by the great Tim St. Lawrence, who is a NY coaching legend, and Mike Potter , the architect of their strenuous training routine. Saint is the motivator; Potter is the task master.
Warwick met with huge misfortune off the line as they just could not get out and at the one K mark the team was 22nd out of 22 teams! The Warwick faithful were stunned. But to their tremendous credit, the team, affectionately known as the seven dwarves of Cinderella fame back in NY (and by this writer in particular), fought their way back all the way into the top ten. Led by the hard charging trio of Mike Fox, Brad Ackerman and Dan Prial, all seniors at Warwick Valley High, the team would end up placing a solid 11th overall in the team scoring.
In a meeting with the team in their tent after the race there was much happiness and fulfillment in a job well done. The team, to a man, was so proud of each other making it to the pinnacle of high school sports here at NTN. Said coach St. Lawrence, “This is the King of Sports, this is the Championship of Championships. These are my men, these are the men of Warwick – they make us all so proud!”
Clifton Park XC Club (Shenendehowa NY)
14th place – 334 points
41 Danaher, William 09 Clifton Park TC 17:04.4 176.5 177
57 Glover, James 09 Clifton Park TC 17:12.5 173.8 174
68 Harris, Daniel 10 Clifton Park TC 17:17.9 172.0 172
83 McDonald, Jonathan 08 Clifton Park TC 17:26.6 169.1 169
85 Pavlick, Brent 09 Clifton Park TC 17:27.7 168.8 169
100 Trainor, Brian 09 Clifton Park TC 17:42.4 163.9 164
146 Belensz, Alexander 08 Clifton Park TC 18:16.1 152.6 153
Clifton Park Track Club, aka Shenendehowa, came into this race as NY Federation Team Champions and NTN NY Champions, and survived an absolutely brutal schedule back in the Empire State. They came to the starting line looking for one more big effort. Could the young squad prove all the experts wrong and finish in the top 15 in the NTN race of races after so many all out efforts?
Running an aggressive race from the gun, the Plainsmen mixed it up with the crème-de-la-crème of high school cross-country luminaries. In a race where “every teammate counts,” this young Shen team raced with the nation’s best thru the muck and the mire of Portland Meadows. Danaher, Glover, Harris, Mc Donald, Pavlick, Trainor and Belensz zipped around the course, and the top five scorers simply would not let each other out of sight. Finishing with a final five-man compression of 23 seconds, the team would go on to defy the experts and the pundits by capturing 14th place overall in the team title chase.
After the race this team, which graduates only one senior, took to one of the mud holes located out at Portland Meadows and took a nice team mud bath. It was just amazing to see the love and admiration these young men have one another. It is refreshing to come to an event such as this and be in total awe of the total commitment and dedication of all the cross-country teams in general and CPTC in particular. Said sophomore Dan Harris, who led this team to the NTN NY win last week, “This has been the experience of a lifetime and I know that my teammates and myself would love to return next year. But we also know that we’ll have to dedicate ourselves like crazy to our training to return to this outstanding event. Also, my teammates and myself would like to thank Nike for a great weekend!”
Coach Thompson concluded, “I am so proud of these guys… that was an outstanding race by them, wow!” Yes, Coach Thompson, wow, you have some team returning for 2008 – God bless & God speed!!!
Manlius XC Club (Fayetteville Manlius NY)
1st place - 83 points
8 Chapman, Courtney 11 Manlius XC Club 19:23.6 8
9 Luber, Hannah 10 Manlius XC Club 19:25.1 9
10 Carter, Mackenzie 10 Manlius XC Club 19:30.8 10
18 Malone, Molly 10 Manlius XC Club 19:47.9 19
37 Buchan, Kathryn 09 Manlius XC Club 20:15.2 37
48 Buchan, Kristen 09 Manlius XC Club 20:30.5 48
49 Richards, Jocelyn 08 Manlius XC Club 20:30.6 49
“Step Four – Complete!” With those words, Manlius Cross Country coach Bill Aris could finally smile. With their runaway 83-171 victory over Newhall XCClub (Saugus High School), his young squad had accomplished what they set out to do early last summer, to defend their Nike Team National Cross Country Championship.
All season long, despite dominating victories week after week, Aris would never waiver from his business like approach. Today, minutes after his squad had left little doubt who had won, he was all smiles. He talked how they had gone back to their “run from the gun” approach that they had used all season, yet had abandoned last week at Regionals. Not liking the way the race developed last week, he decided to go back to the style that they had used all season long, and it once again worked like a charm. They dominated right from the opening gun, taking a lead of about 100 points in the first 1000, and with each passing kilometer their lead only grew.
Aris signaled out today’s fifth runner, Kathryn Buchan, who had been one of the stars on last year’s surprise winning team. Early this season, she suffered an ankle injury that bothered her all season. She worked throughout the season, doing the best she could. With all of her struggles and inconsistent performances this season, she could have easily faded from the scene. It is not easy going from the team frontrunner to watching most races from the sideline. Yet she never complained and wanted to contribute in any way she could. Today she was the fifth scorer for Manlius and her 37th place performance clinched the win.
Today’s performance was the fitting ending to the whole Manlius approach to every practice and race. They all approach each practice and race with a complete selflessness that has become the trademark of their team. At least five different girls have been the number one girl at some point during the season. No one cares who wins the individual battle; they all just care who wins the team battle. Today, just like every other meet this year and at NTN last year, the individual results were shuffled a bit, but the team scores were what they have been all season long – another lopsided victory for the Manlius girls!
Kinetic XC Club (Saratoga Springs NY)
3rd place - 194 points
4 Davidson, Hannah 08 Kinetic RC 19:08.0 4 Comments:
18 Malone, Molly 10 Manlius XC Club 19:47.9 19
26 Goutos, Cassandra 10 Kinetic RC 19:59.9 27
65 Bellon, Brianne 10 Kinetic RC 20:42.5 65
80 Borroughs, Amanda 11 Kinetic RC 20:56.7 80
102 Treichel, Kathryn 11 Kinetic RC 21:17.2 102
107 Conway, Megan 11 Kinetic RC 21:22.3 107
Longtime cross country followers got to witness a rare sight at today’s meet: Coaches Art and Linda Kranick were all smiles following the race. The usual stern business-like approach seemed to be abandoned as this young squad rallied from some early season troubles to a surprising third-place finish. The Kinetic program has now finished first in 2004, second in 2005 and third this year – the only blemish being their controversial omission from the 2006 meet.
Yet this was far from your typical machine-like Kinetic team. Coach Linda Kranick mentioned how horrified she was at their early season time trial and how she feared that this would be the year that many a team got their chance to pay back Saratoga for their years of dominance. Both Linda and her co-coach, husband Art, beamed with pride at how their girls had performed. They talked about how this team had come together and refused to let the Saratoga tradition die without a fight. They knew that this young squad had plenty of ability and knew that it would take time to bring them along. Not even these two legendary coaches dreamed that they could come this far, this fast.
Led by their only senior, Hannah Davidson, the team rallied throughout the season and just kept getting better and better. Last week, Davidson gave up a chance to become a rare four time Foot Locker Finalist as she skipped the qualifying meet to race with her teammates trying to qualify for NTN. Although their bid for a top two automatic bid fell short, they were able to secure an at-large berth and truly took advantage of their opportunity with today’s performance. Davidson’s decision typified the great team commitment that has carried the Saratoga program to their legendary status. With all but Davidson returning, we can all expect to see the Kranicks wearing all smiles for years to come!!
Burnt Hills XC Club (Burnt Hills-Balston NY)
5th place - 209 points
3 Roecker, Samantha Burnt Hills XC Club 19:06.9 3 Comments:
32 Gregory, Meaghan 09 Burnt Hills XC Club 20:06.4 32
38 Cyrus, Rachael 10 Burnt Hills XC Club 20:16.0 38
66 Stalker, Rachel 11 Burnt Hills XC Club 20:44.1 66
70 Wilk, Riley 11 Burnt Hills XC Club 20:45.6 70
73 Drapeau, Alyssa 11 Burnt Hills XC Club 20:47.5 73
128 Brown, Martha 08 Burnt Hills XC Club 22:04.8 128
As Coach Shaun Zepf watched the beginning of today’s NTN race, he seemed very unconcerned about his team getting off to a horrible start. At the first turn, they were buried in the field deeper then the shoes of his runners were into the mud. For a team that has overcome one setback after another throughout the entire season, getting back into proper position in this race would seem like nothing.
The team had entered the season with extremely high expectations and a shot at the NTN Championship seemed a lock. But as one illness and injury after another kept plaguing his team, even a trip to Portland seemed remote. Yet Coach Zepf was able to keep his team focused and, using his squad’s great depth, was able to patch together winning lineup after winning lineup throughout the year.
But as the squad was about to get back top-three runner Meaghan Gregory from mono and was to make their final push towards national prominence, they lost another top three star, Molly Pezzulo, to injury. “After losing Molly so late in the season, I thought that we were done,” Zepf stated. Yet they somehow kept pulling great team performances out of the sky and pulled off a regional qualifying second place finish at the NY Regional last weekend.
After such a rollercoaster season, one might have thought that just getting here was a fitting conclusion to their once promising season. Yet these girls would have nothing to do with that scenario. They overcame their poor start and kept moving up the entire way. Lead runner Sam Roecker moved herself all the way up to third place at the finish. When the final places had been tallied, Burnt Hills had their fifth runner in before all but two other teams. Just as they had been doing all season, they were able to once again overcome the odds, to add another great performance to their resume.
Coach Zepf stated how their top five performance was definitely sweeter than normal after all they had overcome. With all but number seven runner Martha Brown returning next year, the Burnt Hills squad will use this year’s race as a great learning experience. “God willing, we will be back next year,” Zepf said. With so much young talent and experience returning next year, one could almost look at this year’s poor start as a head start for next years race. After all, Burnt Hills does deserve a break after all they been through!!
Warwick XC Club (Warwick Valley NY)
11th place - 301 points
14 Pennings, Tori 08 Warwick Rc-G 19:36.3 14 Comments:
24 Greibeland, Lillian 10 Warwick Rc-G 19:56.4 24
74 Pettit, Claire 08 Warwick Rc-G 20:48.4 74
94 Leahey, Kayla 10 Warwick Rc-G 21:09.5 94
95 Naples, Kim 09 Warwick Rc-G 21:10.5 95
131 DiVenuta, Lisa 09 Warwick Rc-G 22:11.6 131
151 Mydosh, Megan 11 Warwick Rc-G 23:38.8 151
As the awards ceremony after the championship races had concluded and the crowd was starting to file out, Coach Rich Furst and his runners were trying to find out where they had finished. They knew that they were not in the top ten, because those teams had been announced. In their minds, they had all run a very disappointing race; they were just curious to see how disappointing. As they finally came upon a set of complete team results, they started checking for their team name, working their way up from the bottom of the page with spot 22.
As their eyes rolled higher and higher up the page, they finally found themselves at spot eleven. There it was, with a total of 301 points, in 11th place, the Warwick XC Club. For those few spectators still left on the field, one would have thought that a new champion had been declared. All of the tears and frowns from athletes and coaches a like, suddenly turned to smiles and tears of joy.
Top runner Tori Pennings was ecstatic with the news. “This tops off a great year for our entire team,” she said. “We went from not being expected to be here, to now #11 in the country. This has been a four year dream of mine and what a great way to have it end.”
Coach Furst mentioned how the whole team had come together over the last several weeks to try and meet their goal of getting here. He again mentioned how number five runner Kim Naples had overcome a late-season injury to get to the starting line for the Regional meet to help secure an at-large berth for the final.
As the remaining runners and spectators hurried out of the cold and mud, they watched the Warwick celebration as they left the field. The excitement and enthusiasm that was being displayed by all of the Warwick contingent helped to prove one very important fact about these National Championships, one does not have to finish first to leave here feeling like a Champion. Each and every person involved with the race today truly deserves to be called a Champion!!