Class D Preview
|2018 Season Overview for Class D|
In what was maybe a last hurrah for a great Class D showcase at States last year, South Lewis set off the grand finale fireworks with a mud frolic that slid the Falcons into the champion's seat by 3 points over Greenwich and 7 points ahead of Maple Grove. The closest ever three-way finish in a Girls D race was not matched on the individual side, as Tully's Brooke Rauber warmed up for her 6th place finish at NXN Nationals a month later by winning at States by well over a minute.
entered the race as a moderate favorite to win its third straight Class
D title, but the South Lewis top 3 of Hannah and Hali Ielfield and Lexi
Bernard handled the muddy course very well to finish in the top 10.
Only Brynne Wright with her 2nd place finish ran the mud that well for the
Witches, and they were just unable to close down the big gap opened up
by the Falcons' top trio. Maple Grove was also strongly in the hunt with
Christina Peppy and Ava Crist at 4th and 11th, but like Greenwich the
Red Dragons had a bit too much to make up.
The Situation in Class D
This year there's not a huge amount to say about girls Class D simply because there isn't a huge amount of it left. The further drop of 21 down to a 239 BEDS size limit for Class D teams has pushed another big chunk of teams up to Class C, including three who represented their sections in the 2017 States D race. Only Sections 3 and 6 can still field three teams that start the year with even a minimal 40 TR speed rating, and it is quite possible that five of the eleven sections will not be able to field a team representative for Class D, and a sixth section usually has just one team at Sectionals. Class D in 2018 is mainly just a battle between Section 3 and 6 teams, with Delhi of Section 4 the outsider with an outside chance.
The full-team representation at Sectional meets last year was approximately 108 teams for Class A, 103 for B, 88 for C, and just 63 for D. The classification changes for 2018 will likely push the number of Sectional teams for C up to around 100 and shrink D down close to 50. Of last year's 63 Sectionals D teams, 45 came from just three sections, with 3-5-6 accounting for 70% of the total. Section 5 had the most teams at 16, but the one team that had a time average under 24 minutes, Addison, was moved up to Class C for 2018.
Last year a Class D team at States finished with an average time of more than 27 minutes for the first time ever during the 2000s, and in fact the mud pushed the team's usual 5K average back more than two minutes so that the pace at States was 29:32. 2017 was also a year when two teams went to Nationals even though they could not earn a spot at States.
That is why the Class D preview is a bit skimpy this year. Hopefully things will get better in the future.
It has been 6 years since Maple Grove won a state championship, ending a three-year run in 2012. Last year the Red Dragons were 7 points away from a top place, and with their top 3 and all but one of last year's varsity back, MG is running a long way ahead of the rest of the teams in the class. Sectional top 10 runners Ava Crist, Christina Peppy, and Abby Brunanavas return for 2018, and Maple Grove appears to have enough in reserve to hold off Section 6 rivals Silver Creek and Clymer-Sherman-Panama.
For whoever emerges from Section 6, the biggest challenge at States will likely come from the team that survives the Section 3 war. Reigning champ South Lewis lost 5th place finisher Hali Ielfield and also 33rd-place runner Marsella Ventura, so now States 3rd-place finisher Hannah Ielfield and 9th-place runner Lexi Bernard are the duo alone leading the Falcons' title defense. Beaver River finished just 11 points behind South Lewis in S3-D last year, and with five of the top 6 back including seniors Rylee Campeau and Taylor Moore at the top, the Beavers have a good mix of veterans and young runners and the depth to capture their first Sectional title in seven years. Tully has one of the top runners in the country Brooke Rauber on the lead and also senior Rachel Berry to give the Black Knights a great top two, but they still need to find a little more depth at the back to really target their first S3-D championship in three years. Three other teams that are a little ways back in S3-D are New York Mills behind Abbey Copperwheat, Sauquoit Valley with Madison Randall, and Remsen headed by Jade Dening.
Section 4's Delhi appears to be the team with best chance of challenging the teams from Sections 3 and 6 at States after a 5th place finish last year. The Bulldogs have moderate depth and States medalist Sienna Dorr on the lead. Duanesburg hops back down to Class D after a year up in C, and the Eagles will likely replace Greenwich as Section 2 champ.
IndividualsTully's Brooke Rauber won last year's race by 68.5 seconds, the biggest ever margin in States D history, eclipsing Molly Huddle's 2001 mark by an extra 24 seconds. The sophomore will likely usher in Knight time early again in States D this year. South Lewis's Hannah Ielfield and Mayfield's Madison Relyea are next up in the ratings after 3rd and 7th place finishes at States last year, and Maple Grove's Christina Peppy was 4th there.
|Near the start of the States Class D race, 2017 champ Brooke Rauber of Tully was flanked by Hali and Hannah Ielfield of team champ South Lewis before going on to win by a record margin.|
|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|
Midway through the States D race, South Lewis senior Hali Ielfield and freshman sister Hannah were on the way to leading the Falcons to their first title, though the sisters would end up switching positions.