By Christopher Hunt
SOMERS – The Arlington girls team isn’t hiding from the season’s expectations. They know the expectations are there. They aren’t hiding and coach Steve Arnett keeps it in perspective.
“If dog bites man there’s no news,” he said. “Now if man bites dog, that’s a big deal.”
So the team provided no shock waves. They handily won the Division 1 race at the Big Red Invitational at Somers High School with 21 points, taking five of the top eight spots.
Junior Rachel Sorna, in her first invitational, won the 3.1-mile race in 19:09.61 followed by teammate Brianna Service (pictured left) who finished in 19:27.62. Mallory Mecca placed fifth in 20:12.94, Chelsea Hanson was sixth in 20:23.92 and Carolyn Nasr eighth in 20:39.20.
Arlington is favored by many as the top team in Section 1 and predicted as one of the top teams in the state. With Hanson still working herself into shape after ruturing from injury and the team still waiting for Victoria Sanford’s return, they’ve already started to prove their depth.
“We’re not at full strength but if we can run this well it’s a good sign for us,” Arnett said. “We haven’t done anything yet but this is a good performance. If you have that X on your back you can wear it two ways. You can run scared or you can wear it with pride. They wear with pride.”
An even better sign is Sorna, a soccer-convert, winning her first invitational race. She led most of the way with Service and pulled away over the last half-mile. Sanford convinced Sorna to join the track team last year and Sorna fell in love with the sport.
“I like that X amount of work equals X performance,” Sorna said. “In soccer you have 11 other people on the field and you don’t always have control. This is a team sport but there is an individual aspect to it that I love.”
The boys team commanded the boys Varsity 1 race the same way. They won with 23 points and claimed five of the top nine places. Seniors Jared Leslie and John Muller went 1-2. Leslie won in 16:14 and Muller finished in 16:25. Adam Doherty placed fourth in 16:39, Alec Wise seventh in 17:21 and Brian Wylock ninth in 17:32.
“Really, it’s early season, we wanted to take it easy,” Leslie said. “We did that. It was really muddy out there but it went OK.”
The Arlington boys squad is also arguably the best team in Section 1. Leslie said the team is off to a great start.
“I feel great,” Leslie said. “I think we all feel really good. It’s encouraging.”
The Dobbs Ferry boys team is only in its fifth year since coach J.P. Kaminsky revived the program. But they have legitimate goals of making the state meet and started on that track Saturday at Somers. Patrick Wortner won the Varsity 2 race in 16:51. His brother, Brendan Wortner, finished third in 17:50. Dobbs Ferry won Varsity 2 with 43 points. The hosts Somers was second with 52. Patrick Wortner raised his arms in victory once he crossed the line, like he’d be waiting all summer to feel this good in a race.
“I’ve been running the same race for three years now,” he said. “I think I knew what to do. I felt I really had this.”
Kaminsky told Wortner and the rest of the team to hang back the first mile, not just because of the condition of the course but he wanted to restrict their effort. Either way, a win and a solid race gave Wortner some early confidence.
“I just think this is the start of something really big for me,” he said. “I really hope the win helps motivate my team because we want to make win sectionals.”
Emily Singer of Harrison also won her first invitational race. The junior trailed Pleasantville’s Libby Lazare and Jessica Kendzor of JFK Catholic with more than a mile remaining. But both Lazare and Kendzor stumbled on the last uphill and Singer used the opportunity to pounce. She won in 19:44.03. Pawling won the team title with 79 points. Somers was second with 95 points. Harrison finished 13th.
Lazare took control early and Singer followed but was content to let Lazare lead.
“I’ve run against her before and I know she can keep up a really fast pace,” Singer said. “I knew there were some really big hills and I didn’t want to get tired. She looked like she almost turned her ankle on the hill, that’s when I started to make my move.”
Singer admitted that she took a few glances over her shoulder to fend off any last-second surges but she cruised to her first win.
“I’m never won an invitational,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.