Class B Preview
|2018 Season Overview for Class B|
Being last up at States can be a real slog when the world turns to mud and 5K feels like 50K. Katherine Lee saw it all book-ended between the cold and muck of her first state championship in the freezing temperatures and icy slick hills of Canton in 2014 to the sea of muck at Wayne last year. But both times Lee shrugged off the conditions and ran away for a States XC title, collecting three individual crowns in four years along with a team championship with Shoreham Wading-River. A 4th place finish at Foot Locker Nationals was the capper on Lee's remarkable XC career.
John Jay-Cross River was carrying some extra burdens to the line at Wayne after finishing 2nd to Lee's SWR team in 2016 following a win in 2015 and then seeing frontrunner Pippa Nuttall struck down by extreme dehydration at Sectionals the week before States. But John Jay's status as slight favorites exploded into a huge win as the Indians powered through the mud with Nuttall finishing 4th and three teammates also taking top 20 medals. The victory was extra sweet for JJ-CR since all seven States runners are returning for the 2018 campaign for a third title in four years. But no team has repeated back-to-back Class B championships since East Aurora completed a string of six straight titles in 2010, so nothing is guaranteed here.
Though Lee and John Jay were the headliners for Class B in 2017, there were many other highlights. Three 8th graders faced the mud and finished in the top 20 at States, as Megan McLaughlin finished one place behind her senior sister Molly in 8th place, Goshen's Kayla Schramm was 11th, and Camden's Elizabeth Lucason took 19th. Mt. Sinai captured its first Sectional title in eight years and then finished 3rd at States, 2 points behind East Aurora, with senior Noreen Guilfoyle taking 2nd and Sarah Connelly in 3rd. Cornwall visited States for the 17th straight time, while South Side won its first Sectionals in 15 years.
Understandably, there were also a lot of runners, especially long and lanky ones and those with a slighter build, who may not have the fondest memories of the final States race in 2017 and its chewed-up mucky terrain. Those who are still around to qualify for this year's States will be be cheered by one happy thought, for despite its name, Sunken Meadows has few possibilities for mud. But as for those two evil hills . . .
Needing to do a lot of rebuilding to create a winner in 2017, John Jay-Cross River made steady progress at all positions in the first half of the season and then put their stamp on the top position in Class B by winning the Manhattan C race with a 112 TR speed rating in mid October. This year the whole gang is back in a senior-heavy lineup, so the theme is more about maintaining excellence on a deep squad. Pippa Nuttall returns on the lead for the Indians, and Kelsey and Cameron Crawford, Lauren Pollack and Morgan Johnson may continue to juggle around the second to fifth spots in the lineup.
Pearl River reached States 33 straight times through 2011 while winning 8 titles prior to 2000, but for the last three years JJ-CR has stood in the way. This year the Pirates with senior runner Mary Borkoski at the helm are starting further back from the Indians, though they are still rated as the #2 Class B team and have five returning runners from last year's S1-B top 20. CBA-Syracuse had an inspiring run to the Class C state championship last year for its first title, but now the Brothers have been sent up to Class B for what looks like a much more challenging road to repeating as a States champion. Two other teams that are likely in the state championship hunt are last year's States runner-up East Aurora and the Blue Devils' 7th place finisher Megan McLaughlin, and a Cornwall Dragon team that should win its18th straight Sectionals and has a strong team behind States medalist Meredith Hickman.Four teams that have a good deal of strength at the top but some needs at the back of the lineup include Burnt Hills behind Rory Graham and Emily Berg, Mohonasen with Kate and Anna Sherman and Emma Sinisgalli, Tappan Zee behind Alexandra Thomas and Tori Fears, and Mt. Sinai with Sarah Connelly and Kaitlyn Chandrika.
IndividualsAfter a 3rd-place finish last year, Mt. Sinai junior Sarah Connelly inherits Katherine Lee's role now as the favorite for the States B title on her local Sunken Meadows course. Rated just behind her are a pack of freshmen -- EA's Megan McLaughlin, Camden's Elizabeth Lucason, Goshen's Kayla Schramm -- and veteran seniors including JJ-CR's Pippa Nuttall, Pearl River's Mary Borkoski, Maine-Endwell's Alison Otis and Burnt Hills' Rory Graham. This will be the most open competition in years for the top spot in Class B in preseason with eight runners grouped within 9 points of each other following the leader.
Katherine Lee (1184) is on her way to third Class B state championship as she and North Shore's Sophie Rosencrans get an early jump into the mud at Wayne in 2017.
|Top 5 Teams at 2017 States|
|Projected Top 5 Teams for 2018 from Returners' 2017 TR Ratings|
|Projected Next 15 Teams for 2018 from Returners' 2017 TR Ratings|
|Lauren Pollack (162) and teammate Cameron Crawford at right were two of the four John Jay-Cross River runners who battled the States mud to finish in the top 20 for their championship Indians team.|