Well folks, that's it for the 2012-2013 seasons for Cross Country and Track and Field. With the conclusion of the World Youth Championships, the majority of our athletes are home for the season, and building towards either college or those cross country courses in the fall. We here at MileSplit NY have just finished our second year under new management, and have made strides in bringing you the best coverage around. We've had a banner year on twitter, becoming the most followed state in the network, as well as nearly 11 million page views since September. In terms of athletes, we've had unparalled performances, new breakout stars, and countless new state records. To keep it succint, it has been another great year for the Empire State. To commemorate the end of the season, we'd like to look back at our top 10 moments from the past year. These may not be the fastest times or best performances, but they were moments that were aided by the stories behind them, the rivalries established, and the accomplishments achieved. We'll be releasing two a day, with the top pick being released on Saturday night. While they are ranked numerically, their order is only slightly important. Each moment proved thrilling for the track fan, and we look forward to even more in 2014. And be sure to sound off in our comments for moments you think we missed, as cutting this down to a list of ten was not easy.
1. The Lone Stotan
And we've finally arrived, at the conclusion of our 2013 list of the top ten moments of the past three seasons. We've seen some national records, numerous state records, and some of the best matchups all season. But none rank higher than the performance exhibited one November afternoon. Senior Nick Ryan, of Fayetteville-Manlius, was having a stellar, if not truncated season of cross country. He had delayed the opening of his season to account for the college recruiting process, one the ultimately ended with an admission to Syracuse University. With his first race back, minus some dual meet training runs, Ryan was set to take on one of the nation's best ever runners, Edward Cheserek, on one of the biggest running scenes of the season, the Manhattan Invitational. Cheserek had also taken part of the early season off, to account for studying for the SAT exams. The meet would serve as both of their returns to running. It was hard to bet against the senior from New Jersey, after almost a perfect season last fall. Many didn't even think it would be close. But no one told that to Nick Ryan. The pair set off even into the woods, and came out almost as such. Cheserek would run away from the field, but by the end, Ryan was closing fast. It had been the closest anyone has been to the senior on a cross country course in quite some time. But even that, does not make it into our top ten. That would be reserved for later, against Cheserek once more, if not in person, at least against his time.
Ryan continued his season, racing sparingly to preserve his legs. When he did compete, one thing was clear: nobody in the state was even close. The senior raced alone, a true test of strength and grit. Self-paced, yet team motivated, he would take out with the faith that his team would follow. He won both his league and sectional title far and away. His team followed. At the state meet, Ryan repeated what he had done all season. He took out hard, and left an elite field more than 200m back. Averaging 4:53 a mile at Elma Meadows, Ryan blasted a new course record in 15:07, the next competitor almost twenty seconds back. Again, he was running an individual race in a team competition, with the rest of his squad following suit, placed very well, taking second overall by only 1 point. But his defining moment would come not two weeks later.
NXN-NY Regionals is almost as competitive as the state meet itself. The course is much tougher in many people's opinions. Bowdoin Park consists of a gradual uphill, followed by the same path back down. Many of the greats had run there before, including Edward Cheserek. But none of them would run like Nick Ryan would. As the gun went off, Ryan took off. He left the pack early, never letting go of his pace. As evidenced by the cover picture, it didn't take long to separate. Attacking the hill like few ever have, Ryan was well above meet record pace by the first mile. Many have run fast up the hills, but few have been able to hold on after. Ryan was back in his comfort zone: running alone, at his pace, on his terms. Powering through with the mental fortitude finely tuned throughout the season, he took the crest of the top of Bowdoin Park at blistering pace, beginning his descent. Again, he didn't let up. As he hit the final plateau, and sprinted to the finish line, the crowd knew something special was about to happen. He had left the woods under fifteen minutes, faster than anyone before. He continued through to the line, winning handily, in 15:27.00. The mark would better the course record set by Jim Rosa by nearly ten seconds, a feat many didn't expect to happen in the decade following the day the mark was first set. It would also serve as our top moment of 2013. Until next year!