Girls Class B Preview
Entering the 2018 season, reigning champ John Jay-Cross River looked well set to capture its third States title in Class B, but key injuries hit the Indians and and in their first win in 20 visits to States, Cornwall's Dragons behind 8th grade phenom Karrie Baloga took a 62-68 decision at Sunken Meadow. The reigning Class C champ CBA Syracuse finished a close 3rd in its new digs in B, and traditional powers Burnt Hills, Pittsford Mendon, and East Aurora were 4th, 5th, and 6th.
The individual battle was a total thriller as CBA's Olivia Morganti led for much of the race, but Mount Sinai's home-section girl Sarah Connelly navigated the course perfectly and won the duel down the creek-side final stretch. Three weeks later at NXR-NY, Connelly finished 7th to qualify for NXN, where she capped off her year with a 30th at Nationals. Morganti finished 9th at NXR-NY, one spot short of a trip to Portland.
Reigning champ Cornwall has moved up to Class A, leaving a big void in B, where it would have been a clear favorite. An unsettled landscape for 2019 reveals no team that can claim to be a surefire choice for a States title, but there are eight teams wedged in at the top within 12 TR points of each other. All of them have some depth issues, and the only two teams that did not lose at least one key runner from last year's top-five pack are ones from Section 8 that are sitting towards the back of the group.
The team with the top numbers is an East Aurora team with a refined pedigree having won 8 state championships, including a string of 6 B titles from 2005 to 2010 and a more recent double in C in 2014 and 2015. Last year the Blue Devils fell back to 6th at States, their worst result in 16 years, but their top 5 finishers from the race are back, headed by sophomore Megan McLaughlin who was 10th and senior Karis Ertel. East Aurora has some depth issues, but you know that young Blue Devils are always jumping in or the team wouldn't have gone to States for 18 years in a row and finished at least 6th every time.
Like East Aurora, the Pearl River Pirates have won 8 state championships, but the last one came 20 years ago and they have lost longtime standout Mary Borkoski who finished her senior career with a flourish with a 4th at States. The Pirates may have a little more depth than the other contenders, but they will need to pull up the speed ratings behind States finalist Una Boylan if they are to get their first Sectional win in five years and go for that elusive 9th state championship.
2019 could be the year that CBA Syracuse gets another state championship as their speed ratings numbers are very nice, but much of the glitter comes from States medalists Olivia Morganti and Deja Scripa-Jones, so the Brothers will need to add some young sisters at the back. John Jay-Cross River will wage its customary battle with Pearl River while it shoots for another odd-year state championship, but big senior losses will require a lot of development work behind Kelsey Crawford and Morgan Johnson.
The other half of teams in B's top 8 feature two Sectional showdowns. In S2-B, Burnt Hills will be shooting for their 6th straight Sectional title and feature the strong top sophomore duo of States medalist Emily Berg and Jamisen Vendetti, but Mohonasen is matching the Spartans' pace and has its own States medalist at the top with Kate Sherman. In S8-B, reigning champ South Side won a close battle with North Shore and Manhasset last year, but the intact Cyclones actually start the season with numbers a little behind Manhasset because of a speed ratings dip after a 7th place finish at States. South Side is led by States medalist Olivia Duca and Carly Woelfel, and Manhasset has States medalist Angeline Caamano at the top.
In other key sections, Honeoye Falls-Lima returns a full group for a run at their first Sectional championship in four years in S5-B, Goshen behind States 9th place finisher Kayla Schramm looks to succeed Cornwall in Section 9, and Mount Sinai is hoping to pull in a few runners behind senior States champ Sarah Connelly and junior 7th place finisher Kaitlyn Chandrika to overcome the better stocked Kings Park team.
A few minds will be boggled by the times laid down on Plattsburgh's fast flat speed course if Sarah Connelly and Olivia Morganti engage in another down-to-the wire duel as they did at States last year. But both seniors will be eying other big feats in their final seasons including trips to Nationals.
The ten runners listed behind the top duo among the 2019 returners are either sophomores or juniors, so they have a little more time left to go for the glory. Four of them finished in last year's States top 10, and all could be helping to lead their team's run at a state championship if recruitment drives work out. Kaitlyn Chandrika finished 7th last year, and she and Connelly could be leading the Mount Sinai team at Plattsburgh if the always short-handed Mustangs can fill out the ranks. Kelsey Crawford looks to better her 8th place finish from States last year and lead her John Jay-Cross River team to a state championship like she did two years ago as a freshman. Goshen's Kayla Schramm is still just a sophomore, and she will look to move up from her 9th at States last year with a young Gladiators team that no longer has to battle with Dragons. And Megan McLaughlin will have big responsibilities as a sophomore this year after a 10th in 2018 as she leads the favored East Aurora squad on its quest for a 9th state championship.