|2017 Season Overview for the AIS|
2016 for the AIS was a season of odd turns and big surprises. Only four of the of the top 10 returning runners from 2015 actually finished in the top 10 of the conference championship on Marathon Sunday, and the winner was rated only 6th in last year's preseason previews. A race that was expected to have three former champions battling again for the individual crown in their senior year saw only one able to compete and running to a 7th place. A Convent of the Sacred Heart team that had entered 2016 as a heavy favorite and had pushed to the top of New York's Class C rankings fell three points short of winning an elusive title.
The team that did seize the AIS championship was one of the last that anyone would have given a chance to, after it lost its senior leader to injury, saw its 2015 #2 runner transfer out, and went to the line of the AIS championship with a top 5 that included no one who had run in the previous championship. But Poly Prep somehow made it all work out with five newcomers, including three freshmen, and edged out CSH by a 62-65 score.
Making predictions for the AIS is tricky since the conference seems to have an independent mind, but 2017 does look like it should be at least a tough three-way battle at the top. Convent of the Sacred Heart is again the favorite with a balanced attack led by Fiona Calcignini who finished 4th in last year's championship, but the Cardinals do need to nail down the recurrent depth issue this year following the loss of Fiona's 2012 AIS champion sister Paris. Poly Prep has shown that it can win the big ones as it did last year without its star frontrunner Ella Ketchum, who went on to have a standout track season as a senior, but the Blue Devils lost just enough of last year's champion squad to enter 2017 as a small underdog to CSH. Hackley finished 3rd last year after a three year run at the top from 2013 to 2015, and the Hornets could be ready to challenge for 1st behind AIS champ Olivia Curran and Caroline Stevenson. The status of Marymount is a little less fixed, but the Lions could also be in the AIS hunt this year.
The top four runners from last year's AIS showdown are back, as junior Olivia Curran of Hackley, senior Audrey Aberg of Packer Collegiate, sophomore Jenna Denaver of Poly Prep, and junior Fiona Calcagnini of Convent of the Sacred Heart return to battle it all out again at Van Cortlandt. But the fight for the top spot in the AIS is also expected to include a heralded newcomer to the league, Lauryn Heskin, a freshman at Marymount and a top finisher at AAU Nationals last December in the 13-14 year old race.
The 2016 AIS championship breaks out on Marathon Sunday at Van Cortlandt Park.
|Top 5 Teams at 2016 AIS Championship|
|Projected Top 5 Teams for 2017 from Returners' 2016 TR Ratings|
|Projected Next Team for 2017 from Returners' 2016 TR Ratings|
Hackley's Olivia Curran won the AIS championship by almost 26 seconds in 2016.
|Top 2017 Returning Runners by Last Year's TR Rating|
|Packer Collegiate's Audrey Aberg finished 2nd in the 2016 AIS championship and will be back for more in her senior year.|
|AIS Team Profiles|