Class A Preview
|2017 Season Overview for Class A|
Last fall, during a season where it seemed that unpredictability would reign, the familiar ended up happening instead in Class A as the regular season's top rated team Corning did end up winning at States, and NXN habitues Liverpool and Fayetteville-Manlius went to Portland together for the fourth straight year. Despite the fact that the top eight finishers in the States A race were seniors, speed ratings are trending up a tick or two this year compared to 2016's preview and the talent is spread around more evenly. What that all likely means is that one or two of top 10 teams from this year's ratings will make a break to establish themselves as States favorites after a lot of bedlam in the early season.
However, for once, nothing seems guaranteed for the Class A teams that compete in the NYSPHSAA championship. With the probable exception of Corning in Section 4, it would not be at all surprising if all of the other eight Class A champions from 2016 were defeated at Sectionals in 2017. The top 8 rated teams for Class A in this preview are all from four upstate sections -- 2, 3, 4, 5 -- and it is entirely possible come November that only four of Class A's top 10 ranked teams will be running in what is known as the States Class A championship race. And yes,with Class B champ Burnt Hills rated far ahead of the other teams in the state and with CHSAA teams such as St. Anthony's and Xavier set for powerhouse years, it is even possible not only that Fayetteville-Manlius's streak of 9 straight NXN visits will be broken, but for the first time that no team from NYSPHSAA's biggest class will earn a ticket to Portland.
One thing that is certain in the preseason is that 2016 A champ Corning will start the year as the top rated Class A team, at least by the "brute TR" average system used here in previews and rankings. Like all of the top teams, the Hawks lost a lot of top guys to graduation, and frontrunner Kevin Moshier will be especially missed following a year in which he went to NXN Nationals, swept the indoor-outdoor States 1600m titles and also won the outdoor 3200 title. Corning has the top rated trio for 2017 with Quinn Nicholson, Bryce Derick, and Dan Gahagan, so a repeat States title is very possible if some promising juniors and sophomores develop well in the 4-6 spots.
Two other teams with speed ratings close behind Corning are squads that weren't at States last year but have six of the top 7 back, Niskayuna and Fairport. The Silver Warriors probably have a tougher road to get out of Sectionals in S2-A than do the Red Raiders out in S5-A, but neither group is easy. Niskayuna returns a quartet of Donovan Tucker, Colin Ross, Joe Hale, and Marty Dolan who placed in the top 20 in S2-A last year, while Fairport has a quintet of S5-A champ Majd Rouhana, Sean Henretta, Ben Bulkeley, and Ethan and Matt Abell who were top 21 in the S5-A.
Two other squads that rate above the team 165 TR level are also ones that have been to NXN Nationals three or more times and were not at States last year, and they are usually called FM and Shen. Fayetteville-Manlius has been to Portland for 9 straight years, so a trio of Hornets who were in the S3-A's top 20 -- Ben Otis, Max Perry and Matthew Tripp -- have to be feeling a little pressure to make sure that FM's girls don't go to NXN alone. Another Hornet who could be on the lead for the team is Garrett Brennan, whose 2016 season ended in October. Shenendehowa finished 3rd in S2-A last year but returns 6 guys who finished in the top 28 there, and the lead trio of Alex Hislop, Greg Langone, and Liam Hickey could be one of the best in the state this year.
The Sectional battles should mainly all be extremely competitive, with the probable exception of S4-A. Perhaps the level of internecine Sectional battling will raise the speed ratings of state teams to the point where NY is in line for three teams at NXN.
So who replaces Liverpool's States and NXN-NY winner Ty Brownlow as 2017's top runner? Last year, Ithaca's Silas Derfel was the last guy listed on the preview's tally of top 25 runners, and this year he's first. Derfel will likely be glad to know that last year's top guy on the list Noah Carey went on to win the Federation meet and also made the trip to NXN. But there are five other runners with 180+ TR levels who will certainly be making Derfel move a bit faster at times in 2017, and they include Warwick Valley's Behailu Bekele-Arcuri and Thomas Gardiner, Corning's Quinn Nicholson, Saratoga's Shea Weilbaker, and Guilderland's Noah Tindale.
|The lead group in the Class A race last year were nearly all seniors. Liverpool champ Ty Brownlow is peering ominously over the shoulders of Sachem North's Jon Lauer (no. 1131) and Corning's Kevin Moshier (no. 405).|
|Top 5 Teams at 2016 States|
|Projected Top 5 Teams for 2017 from Returners' 2016 TR Ratings|
|Projected Next 20 Teams for 2016 from Returners' 2015 TR Ratings|
Liverpool's Ty Brownlow sprints in 1st at States. Behind him Sachem North's Christopher Tibbetts is about to overtake Guilderland's Noah Carey for 2nd, and Brownlow's teammate Steve Schulz heads in for 4th.