|2018 Season Overview for the CHSAA|
Though in the preseason it looked as though Notre Dame might get its stiffest challenge in the Gator era at the CHSAA championship, it won in 2017 by the team's biggest margin ever by stacking five runners in the top 10 and six in the top 12. Instead it was the battle for 2nd that was ferociously close, as Sacred Heart beat out Kellenberg and St. John the Baptist by a 72-76-77 scoring split. In a battle of sophomores at the top, Sacred Heart's Maggie Maier finished about five seconds ahead of Notre Dame frontrunner Sierra Dinneen, while Kellenberg's Maureen Lewin beat ND senior Keiana Mitchell for 3rd. The Gators became the first CHSAA team to win four straight titles during the 2000s, the last team to do it previously having been St. Anthony's in 1996-1999.
Gators were also on top out west, as Nardin Academy won its second straight Monsignor Martin title despite having lost its 2016 stars Danielle and Gabrielle Orie to graduation. St. Mary's Libby Benzer finally got her elusive title in her senior year, and Buffalo Seminary junior Zoe Knauss was 2nd.
During its four year run of CHSAA championships, Notre Dame has had a fairly wide and consistent margin of victory, winning by 38 points in 2014, 37 points in 2016, 39 points in 2017, but getting a relative squeaker of a win three years ago at 15. After losing two of their top 5 runners from last year's champion, the Gators may be getting much tighter quarters in the CHSAA in 2018. Keiana Mitchell and Jackie Thompson are gone from the Gator squad after winning nothing but gold in their HS years, and now the victory streak lies at the feet of Sierra Dinneen, Giavanna Comerford, and Lindsey Field from last year's top 10 CHSAA group. The Gators still have a lot of depth with 12th place finisher Nykoya Barnes, 21st placer Casey Franzreb, and the extremely promising newcomer Alyssia Brown also in the mix.
Notre Dame has no easy path to a fifth title. The trio of challengers who battled for 2nd last year are back in force and both Sacred Heart and St. John the Baptist have intact squads, while Kellenberg returns its top three. 2017 champ Maggie Maier leads a Sacred Heart squad that includes three other top 20 finishers from 2017 and appears to have the strongest shot at unseating ND. Kellenberg has top 5 finishers Maureen Lewin and Brianna Lausev returning but has a little more work to do to fill out a squad that lost two of its top 6. St. John the Baptist has top 10 finishers Kerri McCormack and Hailey Marcello leading the way with everyone back. McCormack is the only non-senior among the Cougar top 5, so there will be some pressure to go for broke in 2018.
Nardin appears set to win again in the Buffalo area as it just has more depth than any other team.
Maggie Maier and Sierra Dinneen finished 1-2 last year and are the leaders of the projected top two teams, so they appear to be a good bet to be at the top again this year. Their chief challenger may well be Kellenberg's Maureen Lewin, last year's 3rd place finisher who is coming off a strong spring track season.
Out west Buffalo Seminary's Zoe Knauss looks likely to inherit the MMA championship following the graduation of Libby Benzer.
Sacred Heart's Maggie Maier and Notre Dame's Sierra Dinneen battled early in the CHSAA championship before Maier drove home for a five second win and Dinneen's Gators claimed a fourth straight title.
|Top 5 Teams at 2017 CHSAA Championship|
|Projected Top 5 Teams for 2018 from Returners' 2016 TR Ratings|
|Projected Next 3 Teams for 2018 from Returners' 2016 TR Ratings|
Runners from five different teams battling for top 25 spots in the CHSAA championship last year included Kellenberg's Maya Richardson, St. Joseph Hill's Kasey Shashaty, St. John the Baptist's Morgan Murray, St. John Villa's Madison Improta, and Notre Dame's Casey Franzreb.
|Top 2018 Returning Runners by Last Year's TR Rating|
On a chilly day at the CHSAA championship, Sacred Heart's Anna Kavanagh and Notre Dame's Lindsey Field were running in the shadows at Van Cortlandt Park.
|CHSAA Team Profiles|