Class B Preview
|2017 Season Overview for Class B|
Last year Shoreham-Wading River rode the wild winds and star runner Katherine Lee to a States championship and a 3rd place finish at NXN-NY regionals that came fairly close to sending the Wildcats to Nationals. But 2016's wild times also had a devastating effect on the strength of Class B for 2017, because at States half of both the top 12 and top 32 finishers were seniors, and two of the B Sectional winners were moved up to Class A to further weaken the pool for this year's B contest. The top two teams in the class in 2016 were especially hard hit, as both Shoreham-Wading River and John Jay-Cross River lost three or four top runners.
But everything is cyclical in Class B, which has seen seven different teams win States titles during this decade after having just Honeoye Falls-Lima and East Aurora sweep up all 13 titles won between 1998 and 2010. And in a year of relative dearth, teams that return most of their varsity members are especially well set to succeed. The two teams in 2017 that seem to be bringing back the most are a duo that have each won 8 States titles, East Aurora and Pearl River.
Despite having a preseason team speed rating fairly similar to last year's number when it was buried back in the preview's 5th slot to begin 2016, East Aurora will start this year with a gap over all the other contenders after losing just one of the varsity from the 3rd-place States team. With a triple M&M group of Molly, Megan, and Maggie McLaughlin set to power a team that also has Karis Ertel, Eva Scarpa, and Emily Jason returning with the usual wealth of States, Federation, and NXN-NY experience, East Aurora looks ready to make a big push for its first States B title in 7 years and its third state championship in the last four seasons following titles in 2014 and 2015 in Class C.
Pearl River also begins the season with all but one runner back from last year's varsity, and the Pirates may have the depth and balance to mount the most serious challenge to East Aurora. States medalist Mary Borkoski returns as a junior to lead the Pirate crew for a fourth year, and with Niamh Durcan, Jessica McDermott and Erin Clinton all taking top 20 Sectional places last year, Pearl River is well positioned to go for its ninth state championship but first since 1999.
The five main contenders to the top two teams all have bigger questions to answer. Reigning champ Shoreham-Wading River and runner-up John Jay-Cross River have elite frontrunners in Katherine Lee and Pippa Nuttall respectively, but both got severely whacked by graduation losses that will require a strong rebuilding effort and both are strongly challenged within their own sections. Mt. Sinai will be the chief challenger to Shoreham-Wading River in Section 11, and behind the big top two last year of Noreen Guilfoyle and Sarah Connolly are a pair of younger runners with huge potential who could push the Mustangs all the way to the state title if the team fills out a bit. Burnt Hills won the States B title three years ago and always has good depth, but the Spartans graduated frontrunner Eva Scott and have just one returning runner from the top fifty finishers at States. Westhill was 6th at States last year and has some depth, but no one who placed in the top thirty at States.
Though the team strength throughout Class B is down as we enter the 2017 season, there is no question that the battle for the top individual spot will be running at a high level. The big favorite will be reigning champ Katherine Lee who won everything she ran in last year including NXN-NY until finishing 10th at NXN Nationals. Fellow senior Caroline Timm also racked up the 1sts on the way to a 3rd at States. Elizabeth Lucason amazed everyone in 2016 with her huge performances as a 7th grader that culminated in a 6th at Federation and a win in the USATF Junior 11-12-year-old championship.The biggest classifications changes for the girls was the movement of Canandaigua and Manhasset out of Class B and the entry of Queensbury, Hamburg, and City Honors.
|Katherine Lee battled with Goshen's Olivia Elston early on at States last year before powering off to win by half a minute and lead her Shoreham-Wading River team to its second state championship.|
|Top 5 Teams at 2016 States|
|Projected Top 5 Teams for 2017 from Returners' 2016 TR Ratings|
|Projected Next 15 Teams for 2017 from Returners' 2016 TR Ratings|
|Katherine Lee won every race she ran in New York last year including the NXN-NY regionals on the way to a top 10 place at Nationals.|