#8 - FM's Brennan Takes Regional Title In 4th Race Of The Year
It's hard to narrow down a singular defining moment in Fayetteville-Manlius' 2017 post-season run. An odyssey that spanned a 2-point loss for the boys at the New York State Meet, after having a 6 point margin of victory with 300m to go. A rebound team win two weeks later at the NXN-NY Regional meet, with a 48-point margin of victory, despite two of their Top 7 running under a 150 speed rating. And then an unprecedented rise to a second place podium finish at the NXN National Championships, after TullyRunners had them projected in 8th place, nearly 100 points off the leaders.
And that's not even to mention the girls side of the program, who had an odyssey of their own. With one of the strongest teams in years, they set the Manhattan 5-Man Average Course Record. They then go on to score 24-points at the State Meet, and then one up that with a 23-point final total at NXN-NY Regionals. Poised to dominate the National Championships, their plans began to unravel with 24-hours left to go until the big race. Their typical #4 athlete, Rebecca Walters, came down with Strep Throat and a fever on the plane out West, the ailment intensifying once out there. And then, their typical #2 athlete, Sophie Ryan, came down with food poisoning the night before the race. Strapped to a hospital bed and an IV-Drip with 10-hours until the gun, their title chances looked slim. And yet, both girls buckled down for one final 5K effort, and pushed through their race. Each averaged a 11-point Speed Rating loss, equivalent to 30-seconds back from where they could be. It tightened the score, and the field was ready to pounce. However, their efforts would result in their closest margin of victory ever, five points over second place, Naperville North.
And yet, despite all that, there was still a bigger moment for the Hornets in 2017. The tale of perseverance that would serve as an example for things to come. For Garrett Brennan, who would sit out much of the season with an injury sustained during Summer Training, it was a tale of patience and determination. Able to walk the dual meets in order to get the required number of competitions to compete, he first came back in his final dual meet effort, jogging to an equivalent performance of a 35-Speed Rating mark race. He would move on to the League Meet, where he would place third in the JV Race, as his gradual reintroduction to racing would occur, running a 138-Speed Rating mark.
If there was one thing he had, it was time. Two weeks more, he was on Varsity again, ready to put in some stronger efforts. He placed third on his team, as they swept the Class A race at Sectionals, scoring a perfect 15 points. The speed was returning. Seven more days, and the improvement continued, now moving up to FM's #2 man. He was now at a 180-Speed Rating, and more left to improve. The best gift he could have gotten was the two weeks between States and Regionals, forgoing Feds as is typical of the Program.
Now it was Regionals, and the odds were stacked against both the team, and the individual. Burnt Hills had been the Top Team in the State all year, with two of the top runners as well. Silas Derfel (Ithaca) had won the Class A Race at States, with Corning taking the team title. Both of those entities were in the race, pushing FM to third in the team standings, and with an outside shot of making it through as an Individual. That didn't seem to matter to them. Brennan went out with the front pack, slowly making his way up the field. At halfway, he was right there, holding on to the pace. He carried it down the course, to 1000m to go at the bridge. It was there he had caught his second wind, and pulled away from the field. Burnt Hills' Tyler Berg was right on his heels, fighting for those valuable team points. But Brennan would pull away, leading his team across the line, and to a strong margin of victory. The example would serve as a precursor to the girls team, who would have their own tale of perseverance to come. And as an example to the boys, that anything was possible come race day, no matter the predictions. That would play out for them the following week as well, all the way to the podium.