The Internet Home of Track & Field

Northeast Region
Bowdoin State Park, Wappingers Falls NY
November 24, 2007


the future is here! Top 6 boys teams and top 4 girls teams vie for tickets to Portland
Four teams stand out: Danbury and Brookline boys and Hanover and Hunterdon (Voorhees) girls

By Matt Soja, Dyestat NE Editor

The future is here! The first Northeast Nike Team Regional, eagerly anticipated through many late-summer and early-fall weeks is finally upon us this Saturday, November 24 at Bowdoin Park. With the cold waters of the mighty Hudson flowing just a few hundred meters away, nearly all the best teams in the region will toe the line on this chilly Saturday for a chance to win tickets to the national championships in Portland.

All of the top six boys’ teams and all of the top four girls’ teams in the region are entered, so this already promises to be a stellar field with no national contenders missing out on the fun. The boys’ race is at 11:30 and girls’ at 12:10, followed by two separate races for New York State teams. The top two teams in each race qualify automatically, with the third and fourth place teams in contention for one of the eight wild card spots. So let the games begin and let the runners write the first chapter in what hopefully will be a long history of regional team championships!

Boys - Danbury CT and Brookline MA stand out

The boys’ field is absolutely loaded, with perfect attendance from the top six teams in the region. Everybody who is anybody in the Northeast will toe the line, and the competition for the two auto qualifying spots should be fierce and dramatic.

The slight favorites hail from the Danbury RC Team (NE #1), whose runners competed for Danbury HS in Connecticut during the season. The Hatters steamrolled their intrastate competition through the fall, winning conference, state group, and state open titles by huge margins, and finishing out their high school season with a devastating performance at the New England Championships, which they won by more than 100 points over East Greenwich RI, ranked #6 in the region. They have a powerful 1-2 punch up front with Matt Terry and Willie Ahearn, which can be matched only by Brookline’s top duo, and their depth is impeccable. At New Englands their entire top five placed in top 22 individually with a 28-second spread. Although they had a slightly slower time average than North Penn at Manhattan Invitational last month, coach Rob Murray has been peaking his runners for the end of the season, so this race is theirs to lose.

Danbury’s biggest challenge should come from Brookline TC Team (NE #2), whose runners competed for Brookline HS in Massachusetts. Last weekend, they completely outclassed their competition at their Division I state meet, defeating runner-up Whitman Hanson by an astonishing 25-101 margin. They are extremely powerful up front, with Robert Gibson and David Wilson capable of taking 1-2 individually, just like at the state meet. They seem slightly stronger than Danbury through their fourth runner, but to defeat them, Brookline’s fifth guy, Brendan Grove, will have to close the nearly-30-seconds gap to top four.

On paper, it should be a close affair between the two teams, but Brookline has not raced much this year outside of MA and Rhode Island while Danbury has faced competition from all over the region. Saturday will verify whose approach worked better.

a fight for wild card picks

Behind the top two, a vicious fight might determine who gets a wild-card qualifying spot to nationals, since at least one of them is likely to come from the Northeast. This is especially true in case of Bosco XC Club Team (NE #4), whose runners competing for Don Bosco Prep defeated New York powerhouse Warwick Valley at Manhattan Invitational last month. If Warwick qualifies from the NY region (quite likely), Bosco might not even need to get into top two to go to Oregon. But to remain in contention, they will have to run like they did last weekend at the NJ Meet of Champions, where they defeated runners-up from Christian Brothers Academy (NE #9) by a near-record 81-point margin. This came after a hard-fought victory over the same team at the state group meet the week before with much poorer performance, so which Bosco shows up to this meet will determine if they qualify. Rob Molke and Anthony Belgiovine are strong in the front, and they are followed 20-30 seconds later by a strong pack – if none of them has a bad race, this should be enough for a ticket to Portland.

Who is Du Hast?

Finally, the cream of the crop is completed by a duo from Pennsylvania. In 1997 the German metal band Rammstein recorded an interesting word-play song titled “Du Hast,” which quickly made its way to MTV, American pop culture, and, 10 years later, NTN Regionals after the runners who competed for North Penn HS (NE #3) adopted this as their club team name. We are not sure if they will be permitted to race in leather and studs, but after they ran the best time average at Manhattan, they might end up bringing some heavy-medals home. Their main problem will be not having raced since the PA public school state meet three weeks ago, where they beat Coatesville but only by 17 points. Led by a trio of Montijo-Miles-Hoagland, they have been consistent but flat through the season. We will see if the long layoff will allow them to peak for this meet.

And Germantown Friends of PA (NE #5), hailing from a high school of the same name, have planned their season around this meet, even racing a New York Road Runners meet at Van Cortlandt two weeks ago to stay sharp. They are a private school and had the benefit of picking and choosing their schedule, so they will not be as overraced as the other top teams. Max Kaulbach could win the race individually, but depth will be an issue here. Their fifth runner would have to run the best race of his life to close the gap and give the Friends a shot at cracking the top four.

There are two more regionally-ranked teams in the field, but they are likely to finish outside of top five. Hill ‘N’ Harrier TC Team, composed of runners who competed for East Greenwich HS in Rhode Island (NE #6) finished second at New Englands, but 100 points behind Danbury. And Brothers XC Team, whose harriers ran for the famous CBA of New Jersey (NE #9) will try to use their depth to capitalize on claiming silver at the NJ Meet of Champions last weekend.

Individually, the race should be decided between Kaulbach and Gibson (both of whom are passing up a probable Footlocker spot), but others such as Ahearn, Terry, or Wilson, could upset them. In team competition, Danbury and Brookline should decide the title between them with Bosco fighting off the Pennsylvania duo for the bronze.

Girls - Hanover and Hunterdown (Voorhees) are far ahead

The ladies’ field is not quite as deep as the boys, but it does feature the top four teams in the Northeast who should sort out the medals and transcontinental tickets among them. There are only thirteen full teams entered in the championship race, which favors clubs with good front-runners but not as much depth. In the end, this might not matter much as the top two teams are far ahead of the rest of the field in terms of previous performances this fall.

The Hanover RC Team is of course composed of girls from Hanover HS in New Hampshire (NE #1). They were untouchable this fall in New England, running circles around their state competition and winning New Englands by awe-inspiring 132 points. This Dream Team is led by the great Georgia Griffin who has been collecting course records with surprising ease, even dipping under 18 minutes on occasion, and is a strong favorite to win this Saturday too. She gapped the rest of her team by about a minute, with the rest of the pack consistently coming in with about a 30-second spread.

The Hunterdon Hawks, who ran for the Voorhees HS in New Jersey, are quite similar to Hanover, although their leader Melanie Thompson may be a few seconds behind Griffin (but most people said the same thing about her and Jill Smith before she outkicked the NJ 800m queen to take the all-group NJ title last weekend in 18:02, 8th best time in Holmdel Park history). But the Hawks make up for it with their 2nd and 3rd runners, Katrina Spratford and Katie Petruzzellis, who should both finish before Hanover’s second harrier.

In their last meeting at Manhattan, Hanover beat Voorhees by 20 points, but the Jersey team has been consistently improving through the past month and appears to have closed that slight gap with a course-record-breaking performance at Meet of Champions, where they averaged 19:01.0. The key to Hawks’ victory should be their fifth girl – whether it’s Colette Whitney or Christine Curtis, she will have to finish within about 45 seconds of their third girl to offset Hanover’s relatively even pack.

Battle for third

Regardless of who wins, both teams should be well ahead of the rest of the field and on the way to Oregon. The battle for third should play out between Wicked TC Team, made up from girls from Lincoln-Sudbury HS in Massachusetts (NE #3), Suamme XC Club – anagram lovers know they hail from Emmaus HS in PA (NE #4) – and Glastonbury XC Team (NE #8) from Connecticut.

Lincoln-Sudbury had the best outing of the three at Manhattan, finishing sixth but more than 40 points behind Voorhees, and their pack strategy might not be enough in this small field. Do not discount late-peaking Blue Eagle XC Club, whose girls ran for Immaculate Heart Academy of NJ and lost a 6th-runner tie-breaker for the bronze at Meet of Champions to Ridge (which is also entered), and the mystery team named Nancy Lang, which apparently is from the private Phillips Academy in MA and not much is known about their strengths.

Overall, it should be an easy 1-2 for Hanover and Voorhees with Wicked taking the bronze, but it might be hard to get a wild card for them. Griffin will win the individual crown with Thompson close on her heels.

NTN Northeast home page | DyeStat NTN Northeast news index