Well folks, that's it for the 2013-2014 seasons for Cross Country and Track and Field. With the conclusion of the World Junior Championships next week, the majority of our athletes are home for the season, and building towards either college or those cross country courses in the fall. We here at MileSplit NY have just finished our second year under new management, and have made strides in bringing you the best coverage around. We've had new innovations such as Live Streaming and the incorporation of the NYS Archives, as well as nearly 14 million page views since September. In terms of athletes, we've had unparalleled performances, new breakout stars, and countless new state records. To keep it succinct, it has been another great year for the Empire State. To commemorate the end of the season, we'd like to look back at our top 10 moments from the past year. These may not be the fastest times or best performances, but they were moments that were aided by the stories behind them, the rivalries established, and the accomplishments achieved. We'll be releasing two a day, with the top pick being released on Saturday night. While they are ranked numerically, their order is only slightly important. Each moment proved thrilling for the track fan, and we look forward to even more in 2015. And be sure to sound off in our comments for moments you think we missed, as cutting this down to a list of ten was not easy.
No. 10 - "We Were in the Unseeded Heat?"
They themselves sometimes have a hard time explaining where they are from. "Basically, you take Canada, and go about ten miles south," the girls explained to the announcers at New Balance Nationals. And yet, their small town will be the most desired destination for hundreds of athletes next fall, as Canton is home to the 2014 New York State Cross Country Championships. Hailing from Section 10, the smallest section in all of New York, Canton is one of only a handful of teams in the area. Invitationals never consist of more than ten teams,w with the average school size well below the minimum. So it would come as no surprise that entering the State Meet 4x800, they were a bit of the underdog. They had only run 9:44.8 in-season, which was all that was needed to solidify themselves as the top relay in the section. Entering the State Meet with that time put them as the 13th seed, well below an expectation for the podium. But that didn't matter.
Much of the talk heading into the State Meet relays was whether or not Fay-Man or Suffern could win the war of attrition. Both would have relay legs doubling through the day, and were facing off against Bronxville, whose "one race and done" strategy had worked at State Meets past. And yet, after the gun went off, and the first leg had exchanged, it was a pair of teams that had not broken the top seven seeded teams. Canton was second through the first exchange, while Corning, who had entered as the ninth seed, was close behind. The two worked together in separating the pack, sticking together nicely through the final exchange. In the end, it was Corning anchor Jess Lawson's kick that solidified the win, with Canton taking second in a new School and Sectional record of 9:08.51. Not bad for the unseeded team of the forgotten section.
Canton was no stranger to being the underdogs. Piggybacking off their success at the State Meet, they entered the 4xMile at New Balance Nationals. Because the atypical event is rarely run in New York State, the seed time was less than desirable. They were the slowest mark in the unseeded heat. Yet, no one knew that. Nationals is run differently than most meets, with the fastest heat running first, and heat sheets being posted without the seed times. So the New York State runners-up had no clue on what the expectations of them were. The first heat went off, won in an impressive mark by the perennial XC and NXN powerhouses, Carmel of Indiana. Many had thought they won. The boys top heat followed. After its' conclusion, much of the attention turned to another NY team, which had just put on quite a performance. Silently, and without accolade, Canton toed the line, and was off on the track. Their lead-off crossed in fourth place, with a solid split. Next, they followed it up with an even mark. The trend continued until the last 400m of their anchor leg, where the announcer finally took notice. Shooting off, Canton would cross the line well ahead of the other "unseeded" competition, as well as nine full seconds ahead of the top seeded champions. Their unheralded and unexpected National Title, in a NY #6 All-Time Performance, ranks as our 10th biggest moment of the season.
NY State Meet
2 Canton-2 9:08.51 2 1) Rebecca DelRossi 12 2) Gemma DelRossi 12 3) Laura Pierce 12 4) Maria Ricalton 11 2:15.882 (2:15.882) 4:33.496 (2:17.614) 6:51.928 (2:18.432) 9:08.506 (2:16.578)
New Balance Nationals
No. 9 - The Great Eight
Contrary to Canton, Chaminade's success was no secret. They were the returning Federation 4x800m Champions from 2013, and had arguably the fastest anchor leg in the Empire State. Based on Long Island, the catholic school has seen success many times in the past decade. Their cross country team had done well in the fall, with several individuals vying for spots to some of the bigger post-season meets. However, no one would expect to see the depth they established on January 5th, 2014. Not only was that early in the season for those coming off a long cross country career, it was still early around the nation. Many relays hadn't shaken out their top 4 legs for the relays the would be running later on in the season. For the Flyers, the mentality to race for your spots, earned them a special distinction.
With three of the four legs returning from the 2013 State Champ relay, and another leg better known for the longer distance, Chaminade decided to "spread the wealth" between two teams. This would be makings of our moment, hailed at #9. On the starting line, the stark red and yellow jerseys stood out, and both members flew to the front. Back and forth the two would battle, neglecting to notice there were other teams in the field. Exchange after exchange, it seemed as if the CHSAA Relays were set up as a time trial. On the final exchange, Sean Kelly and Gunnar Nolan battled to the line. That push would give them the distinction of being both US #1 and US #2 in the same heat, in the same event. The A-team won with a mark of 8:00.4, with the B-Team finishing in 8:00.9. The depth displayed would be something to awe at.
A week and a half later, the distinctions kept coming. Combining forces, they were the first team under 8-mins for the Indoor Season. They would continue on to become the Indoor State Champions. Follow that up with their toughest competition, at Indoor Nationals. There, they would face several relays from Virginia, where competition had exceeded the performances in New York State. A battle of the anchor legs, with VA's Kenneth Hagen and Chaminade's Sean Kelly, would lead the Flyers to a National Title, on top of a new State Record and Armory Venue Record of 7:40.80. The success would continue outdoors, winning the Penn Relays title under their Indoor Record Mark. However, it was their performance in the early season, that stood as the definitive moment you knew something big coming.