Class B Preview
2018 Season Overview for Class B
Last year Burnt Hills began the season rated the top team overall in NY and then set off on a rampage that carried the Spartans to major wins at Baldwinsville, McQuaid-AAA, Burnt Hills, Suburban Council, States, and Federation races. Along the way Burnt Hills took on many of Class A powers in the state such as Corning, Niskayuna, Xavier and Fairport and beat them handily. Still, in the end the results were not enough to earn the Spartans an at-large bid to NXN Nationals after they finished 3rd behind Fayetteville-Manlius and Corning at NXN-NY, two teams that would finish 2nd and 12th at NXN Nationals. The fact that two of the four at-large bids went to the teams that would finish way back in the last two spots at NXN is still a sore spot for at least some NY XC fans.
Though Burnt Hills dominated the headlines for Class B in 2017 on the way to a 25-91 decision over Pittsford Mendon in the States B race, there were many other great story lines playing out around the state. The Vikings' Nathan Lawler not only led his runner-up States squad with a second consecutive win there, but he also qualified for a spot at Foot Locker Nationals and finished 28th. Maine-Endwell's Parker Stokes joined Burnt Hills' Tyler Berg and East Aurora's Ian Russ in securing spots at NXN Nationals, and Stokes was tops among the three there with a 27th place finish. And a last great story for 2017 was an Owego team that earned its first ever trip to States out of Section 4 and then loved the mud at Wayne enough to finish high up in the 4th spot.
Burnt Hills again starts the season as the top rated team in the state and it also is listed at 3rd in the nation in the Tully Runners projections, though other national rankings may see things a bit differently. The Spartans are expected to be far ahead of the rest of Class B and will need to polish their resume by beating the top teams in Class A. But if there is one thing that Burnt Hills learned painfully hard last year was that having even the most glossy credentials are of limited value if you do not close the deal at NXN-NY. This year the focus will need to be centered on honing everything to win one of the two spots at NXN-NY and leaving it to some other poor team to plead their case to the committee for an at-large spot. With a top 5 of Tyler Berg, Aidan Gillooley, Evan Brennan, David Metacarpa, and Nick Hunziker back to put things aright in 2018, there is a very good chance that the Spartans will earn their second ticket to Nationals in the last nine years.
Elsewhere in Class B, there is a pack of teams all looking to bust out in their various ways. Pearl River finished 5th at States last year, and the Pirates are rated 2nd in the preseason and would love to earn their first top-2 place at States since they won the championship in 2005. Mount Academy arrives on the Class B scene after winning state championships at the D level in 2012 and 2013 and then at C in 2017, which earned the Eagles a one-way ticket up to B. Reigning Section 9 champ Cornwall is trying to figure out how well the Dragons and Eagles can share the same living quarters. Pittsford Mendon won three Class B titles between 2013 and 2015, and now with two-time individual champ Nathan Lawler moving on, the Vikings' ship is left in the hands of Nate's brother Sam to captain for two years. In Section 6, five-time Class B champ East Aurora is trying to find some of that old Blue Devil magic following the graduation of Nationals finalist Ian Russ and other varsity members. Owego hopes its senior bunch can grab the team's second-ever trip to States before they depart.
And finally, the big question that we are all in trepidation about. Now that Section 7's only B team Peru has fallen down into Class C due to shrinking enrollments, will the Indians hold on to that S7-B ticket and stay in the States extravaganza so that Class B can have its customary party of 11?
With two-time States champ Nathan Lawler moving on, there are a trio of seniors who are the favorites to break the tape this year. Maine-Endwell's Parker Stokes is coming off a spectacular junior year in which he finished 2nd to Lawler at States, high up in the standings at NXN Nationals, and then won the state and national steeplechase championships. Stokes' main competition will likely come from Burnt Hills frontrunners Aidan Gillooley and Tyler Berg.
|The Class B runners head out into the mud at States in 2017.|
|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|
Mendon's Nathan Lawler won his second consecutive States title in 2017.