Girls Class A Preview
Tumultuous times hit Class A last year as a tradition-stoked Blue Streak wave rolled in and washed away Fayetteville-Manlius's States and NXR-NY streaks to capture the team's 15th state title and the first NXR win for Saratoga. For only the second time ever a New York Class A team did not win NXN Nationals, though FM, Toga, and Liverpool matched or exceeded projections to finish 4th, 6th, and 15th respectively. Katelyn Tuohy was unable to run in her State Qualifier meet, but she still went on to capture her second straight titles at States, NXR-NY, and NXN Nationals, with 2016 States A winner Kelsey Chmiel of Saratoga 2nd at States and Nationals and 2015 States A winner Claire Walters of FM 2nd at NXN-NY.
2018 was a year of adjustments in expectations for the NY Class A teams, as out-of-state teams won the McQuaid AAA and Manhattan Eastern States races. For the first time, no NY team was on the NXN podium for the top three teams.
But there was certainly a lot of glitter for NY-A in 2018. Three teams went to NXN for the second year in a row, always a good sign of respect for a state whose teams have won 13 of the 15 NXN championships. Four of the the top 6 runners and of course the top 2 at NXN were from NY, a just silly amount of talent. And naturally Tuohy again won the Gatorade National XC Athlete of the Year Award. Mary Hennelly of Suffern was also back on track and took a trip out to Foot Locker Nationals. So there were some things to smile about.
For the record, the teams qualifying for States in Sectional order included North Rockland, Saratoga, Fayetteville-Manlius, Corning, Rush-Henrietta, West Seneca West, Syosset, Monroe-Woodbury, and Sachem East.
Though 2016 State champion Kelsey Chmiel of Saratoga has graduated, 15 of last year's top 20 runners and 19 of the top 25 are returning for 2019. The Class A teams should thus be well stocked at the top. The class has also picked up Class B champ Cornwall for 2019, so the year is shaping up to have a bumper crop of results. Tough competition should be the story line for this year, as all of last year's sectional winners are either strongly challenged or in need of a complete rebuilding job to even compete.
Eleven-time national champ Fayetteville-Manlius again leads the preseason ratings behind the senior tandem of Claire Walters and Phoebe White as the Hornets look to extend their 14-year Sectional streak and resume their States, NXR-NY, and NXN streaks. But FM will be keeping a close eye in Section 3 on a Liverpool team led by Jenna Schulz and Sydney Carlson that has made back-to-back visits to NXN and lost by a point at Sectionals last year.
Section 2 includes not only States reigning champ Saratoga but also 5 of the top 10 and 8 of the top 25 rated A teams in the preseason. Things always get nasty ugly here by early November as just too much talent starts grabbing for the States tickets. Saratoga is led by States 6th place finisher Ella Kurto, but with Kelsey Chmiel graduated and Skyler Knott transferring to Shenendehowa, the Blue Streaks will need to plug some big holes in the lineup. Shen now has the deepest team in S2-A and both Jada Dennis and Hannah Belleville topped the Plainswomen in meets last year, so they are nicely positioned for a run at NXN as they did in 2016. Shaker behind freshman Kayleigh Higgins and 8th grader Leoni Griffin is rated in the top 5 preseason, and Niskayuna and Bethlehem are in the top 10, so just about anything could happen in the S1-A madhouse.
North Rockland with National chanp Katelyn Tuohy and States 10th-place finisher Haleigh Morales is rated #2 in the state in the preseason with a fairly deep team looking to make its first visit to NXN in four years. The Red Raiders can't feel completely settled in S1-A though because a balanced Arlington squad and a Suffern team led by Mary Hennelly remain close behind. The other team in Class A's top 10 preseason ratings is that upstart B champ Cornwall led by 2018's top 8th grader, Karrie Baloga. The Dragons can breathe easier in their new quarters since S9-A reigning champ Monroe-Woodbury was decimated by graduations after winning its 5th straight Sectional title, but the Warwick Valley Wildcats are rated #12 and might be planning a rude welcome to Cornwall.
Corning and Ithaca should continue their usual tussle in S4-A at a fairly high level, but the top teams in Sections 5, 6, 8, and 11 suffered key losses and we'll just need to watch to see what develops there.
The account for this year's Class A runners naturally begins with North Rockland senior Katelyn Tuohy who will begin a campaign in 2019 for her third straight State, NXR-NY, NXN and Gatorade XC Athlete of Year titles. She will likely also be smashing a lot of course records, many of them held by someone named Tuohy.
The four top-rated runners after Tuohy are seniors, so we probably will see the graduating Class of 2020 going on a bit of a rampage this year. FM's Claire Walters finished 3rd at States, 2nd at NXR-NY, and 5th at NXN last year, but the big goal for her along with fellow senior Phoebe White is guiding the Hornet squad to its 12th NXN title over reigning champ Summit OR. Liverpool's Jenna Schulz would like to see the Warriors snap FM's long Sectional streak, but she also wouldn't mind picking up a third straight visit to NXN. FDR's Sarah Trainor enters the season as the national record holder in the 2K steeplchase, so she has to be looking at XC courses without any barriers as easy pickings. Suffern's Mary Hennelly was Class of '20's leader back in 2014, and after a visit to Foot Locker Nationals and now the leader of a Mountie team with some promise, she has a lot to smile about.
Following the senior Fab 5, sophomore Ella Kurto will leading the Blue Streaks effort to stay on a roll. Ballston Spa senior Faith Demars may be engaging in another duel at the finish line of the S2-A race with Kurto, but this time maybe not for the runner-up spot. Bay Shore senior Roshni Singh will be looking for a third straight S11-A title and second straight States top 10 place. Cornwall freshman Karrie Baloga will be seeking to make her mark up in Class A with a likely series of battles with Sarah Trainor ahead. Finally, North Rockland senior Haleigh Morales will be striving to help lead her team to NXN again, and she may get some help there from someone named Tuohy.