2017 NY Girls XC Preview: An Overview

New York State XC Season Guide - Girls 2017

New York State XC Season Guide - Girls 2017

Season Intro

Within New York, the 2016 XC season started way west in Cheetowaga at the JFK Invite with East Aurora taking its first win on the road to a 3rd place finish at States.  It all ended as always way further west in Portland OR in a familiar way with the Fayetteville-Manlius girls capturing their 10th national title in eleven years. 2017 will begin at JFK again, one day earlier on September 1st, and the big question is whether it will be pretty much a mirror image of last year or whether some of 2016's more topsy-turvy events will burst through and keep us all in suspense.

On the familiar side of expectations, everyone believes FM will win its 11th NC, with the only possible wrinkle being the question of depth that might well be smoothed away if last year's promising newcomers develop strongly. Only two teams have entered the season with a higher "brute Tully Runner rating" (TR) higher than this year's Hornets team (139.2) during the NXN era (2004-present), and those were the semi-legendary national champion 2011 FM team (146.8) and 2004 Saratoga team (146.0, counting runners who started for them in 2004 after running for Argyle in 2003). FM lost none of its top 5 from a team that crushed at NXN by 41-181 over Davis CA, and still would have won by about 70 if the top Hornet Claire Walters had taken a wrong turn and wound up in Seattle. The top five teams following FM at NXN last year have either been severely depleted or completely wiped out by graduations, so if the Hornets stay healthy, this could be a year of even more record-breaking domination.

The teams following in the footsteps of FM will have many questions to answer on the trails this year. Shenendehowa took 2nd at Federations and then earned its third trip in eight years to NXN, even though once again it was somehow not of sufficient stature to run in the strangely formatted state championship meet. Now the Plainswomen will see if their Portlandia experience and senior-led smarts can win them their first sectional title in 22 years and keep them moving up. After the first year since 2006 that NY did not have at least three teams at NXN, North Rockland will be looking to return to Portland as in 2015 if the back end of the team can be pulled up a ways.

Oft-time NXN visitor Saratoga opened its season last year in August down in Virginia and kept its streak of 17 straight sectional victories alive last November, so the Blue Streaks will again be in the limelight behind the state's top rated returning runner. And if there is a likely candidate to follow in Shenendehowa's surprise leap to a second place finish at NXN-NY, it would be a Niskayuna team that returns most of last year's varsity and finished 6th at NXN-NY in 2016, just as Shenendehowa did in 2015.

Other battles outside of Class A will be burning up the trails in 2017. East Aurora with its M&M fed lineup of Mollie, Maggie, and Megan McLaughlin will the favorite in Class B and looking to take its first B title since ending off a 6-year streak in 2010. Newfane broke through for a States C title last year and will be aiming to repeat with just about everyone back. Greenwich edged out Maple Grove by 6 points for the D title in 2016 to get a repeat, and with everyone back for both teams, the States contest this year might be even closer between two young squads.

In New York City, the usual suspects are likely being rounded up for the CHSAA, PSAL, and AIS championships. Notre Dame lost top runner Sydney Rice and may face more challenges this year while going for four in a row in the CHSAA, but the Gators will still be the big favorite. Benjamin Cardozo returns everyone and likely has the firepower to hold off Brooklyn Tech for a repeat in the PSAL. The AIS private schools may have the closest race following up on Poly Prep's miracle win by 3 points last year, and the Blue Devils will take on the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Hackley, and a newly empowered Marymount squad, likely on Marathon Sunday at Van Cortlandt Park again.

Among the top runners, four of the five elite group that finished in the top 20 at NXN in 2016 will be back to shine again this year following the graduation of McQuaid AAA winner and 8th-place NXN finisher Jessica Lawson of Corning. State Class A and Federation winner and 5th place NXN finisher Kelsey Chmiel is back to lead the way as a Saratoga junior, and NXN-NY winner Katherine Lee returns for her senior year for B winner Shoreham-Wading River. Sophomores Katelyn Tuohy of North Rockland with her Manhattan Eastern States and 1500 meter national championships and Claire Walters at the head of national champion Fayetteville-Manlius are also back.

The lesson for New York teams heading to NY-NXN regionals is simple: go 5 deep. Whatever you need to do to get a 5th runner at the starting line there who is at least at the 110 TR level, you have to make that the goal. The competition throughout the nation is much too intense nowadays to expect that you will get an invite without the top 5 spots squared away.

As always, this year's previews play off all the data fed us by Bill Meylan of the Tully Runners website, and we devote seven sections to the teams of the NYSPHSAA's A, B, C, D  classes and the New York City and Buffalo combined Catholic CHSAA and the NYC public PSAL and independent AIS groups. What it all amounts to is another year of high excitement and mind boggling achievements.

Cheers to yet another XC season like no other.

The Manhattan Eastern States race leaders off of the bridge at Van Cortlandt Park with (from left to right in front) Rebecca Walters, Sophie Ryan, Katelyn Tuohy, and Claire Walters pushing the pace. The Fayetteville-Manlius trio finished in the top 10 for their champion squad, and Tuohy won the race for her 2nd place North Rockland team.

Top NY Teams for 2017
Using the TR speed ratings for returning runners from last year without any adjustments for great track results, here's the list of how the top 10 NY teams stack up.
Team ClassTR Average from 2016
1. Fayetteville-ManliusA139.2
2. SaratogaA124.4
3. North RocklandA121.8
4. ShenendehowaA116.2
5. NiskayunaA114.8
6. West Genesee
7. Monroe-WoodburyA107.0
8. East Aurora
9. Maple Grove
10. LiverpoolA103.6
Next: Notre Dame, Colonie, Greenwich, Sachem East, Ward Melville