The Year That Was
Okay, so the preview projections for the 8 class and conference winners last year gets a D- mark at 62.5% correct, but we can say a few things in our defense about those three wrong calls.
First, both Susan Wagner in the PSAL and Saranac Lake in Class C were fairly close 2nd favorites, and the teams projected ahead of them had injury issues during the season. Secondly, what happened in the CHSAA for Archbishop Molloy is totally unnatural and can only be explained by some divine intervention that no way we could have predicted. The Stanners were projected 7th in the CHSAA last year, but their top 7 guys raised their speed ratings between the 2017 race (or season's TR for an injured runner) and the 2018 race in order of their finish by +17, +21, +20, +4, --, +26, +41. The dashes for the 5th runner are for a newbie junior who joined Molloy and built himself up to a 162 TR level. None of this happens in the real world without some kind of special connection to the XC gods.
Gloating over our successful predictions, we will point out that Fayetteville-Manlius won Class A, Burnt Hills took Class B, Beaver River topped Class D, Trinity ruled in the AIS, and St. Joseph Collegiate ran off with the All-Catholic Monsignor Martin title by a point. And yes, four of those predictions were very predictable.
Summing up, Fayetteville-Manlius beat Corning in Class A by 25-87, the lowest total in the biggest class in the current States scoring system since FM got 24 in 2014, and it was the third lowest ever. Burnt Hills repeated in Class B by an even lower total of 22-96 over Pearl River. Saranac Lake won by 31-83 over Westhill in Class C, and Beaver River was at 32-87 over Maple Grove in Class D. Archbishop Molloy took the CHSAA by 61-94 over Monsignor Farrell, St. Joe's squeaked by Canisius by 43-44 in the Monsignor Martin, Susan Wagner beat Brooklyn Tech by 58-94 in the PSAL, and Trinity topped Collegiate by 62-93 in the AIS.
The Federation meet was cancelled because of an earlier snow storm, so we went right to the NXR-NY regional where FM was the victor with 28 points and Burnt Hills insured that it would not be snubbed again by finishing 2nd with 88 points. At Nationals, FM finished 5th and Burnt Hills was 14th.
The individual winners of postseason races included a number of repeaters. Shenendehowa senior Shea Weilbaker won A, Burnt Hills senior Tyler Berg took B, Bronxville senior Matt Rizzo captured C, and Shelter Island junior Kal Lewis repeated in D. Saint Anthony's senior Matthew Payamps was the victor of the CHSAA, Brooklyn Tech senior Evan Sherman repeated in the PSAL, Riverdale Country Day junior Tobias Wolfson repeated in the AIS, and Cardinal O'Hara senior Tom Appenheimer won his third Monsignor Martin championship.
Pittsford Mendon junior Sam Lawler finished 7th in the Foot Locker NE regional and then placed 31st at Nationals. Maine-Endwell senior Parker Stokes was the top guy at NXR-NY and was also the fastest NY runner at NXN as he placed 22nd.
2019 Season's Landscape
Every XC season begins with the question of how much will be changing from the year before. And except perhaps in the CHSAA, it would not be a shock if the winners in 2018 repeated in 2019. Fayetteville-Manlius in Class A, Saranac Lake in Class C, and Beaver River in Class D all have more than a 12 TR point average over their nearest pursuers. Burnt Hills in Class B graduated its top 4, which would usually doom a team to a giant rebuilding year, but the Spartans are still the favorites in B, even if there are now four teams at around the same level.
Out west in the All Catholics league, both St. Joseph Collegiate and Canisius graduated a couple runners from their 43-44 showdown of 2018, so it's up for grabs. Two-time reigning champ Susan Wagner has a moderate edge over its chief rivals in the PSAL, so a threepeat is a good possibility. The AIS features a quartet of teams rated between 150 to 145 TR, but Trinity is in among the top teams and could get the fourpeat. That just leaves the CHSAA and an Archbishop Molloy team that is rated 8th in the preseason after losing three of the Stanner top 5, but they were rated 7th last year in the preseason but still took the title, so you definitely can't count them out, especially with that nice relationship with the XC gods.
One big note to emphasize for this season was that last year's senior class was very special and will be hugely missed this season. 24 of the top 30 runners from last year were seniors, so a massive amount of talent is gone. Not to put any undue pressure on you guys in that returning sextet of top runners for 2019, but Geoff Howles, Peyton Geehrer, and Sam Otis of FM, Behailu Bekele-Arcuri of Warwick Valley, Sam Lawler of Pittsford Mendon, and Tobias Wolfson of RCDS, you gotta just do it.
At the top in Class A, Fayetteville-Manlius has the aforementioned three of Howles, Geehrer, and Otis plus Yakob Kelley to lead the way for the Hornets' #4 rated National team. There are definitely some good candidates for the #5 and #6 spots on FM, so a repeat A title is expected. Four teams are grouped together in the brute speed ratings a big distance back from FM, and they include Shenendehowa, Saratoga, Guilderland, Warwick Valley and Corning.
Four teams that are highly experienced state championship winners will be vying in Class B, and Burnt Hills, East Aurora, Mount Academy, and Pittsford Mendon could all make solid cases for being the best in B. Saranac Lake in Class C and Beaver River in Class D do not appear to have any strong threats to their bids for another States title. As the Beavers are fond of reminding us, 20 years ago they beat up on all the big teams to win the 1999 Feds race, and you know that FM won't be there, so the Beavers could be partying at Feds like its 2019.
Elsewhere, 2018 preseason CHSAA favorites Saint Anthony's and Xavier had their final races wiped out by injuries and possibly other factors, but Xavier has five of its top 6 back and should be running way out ahead of the rest of the field this year. PSAL champ Susan Wagner has five of its top 7 back and is sitting a ways ahead of Bronx Science. In the AIS, Packer Collegiate, Hackley, Trinity, and Collegiate are grouped closely together. In the Monsignor Martin, St. Joseph's Collegiate and Canisius will go at it again following last year's 1 point decision.
On the individual side of things, all of last year's champs are gone except for Kal Lewis in Class D and Tobias Wolfson in the AIS, both seeking their third straight title. Most of the fastest guys from last year are departed, but each year there are always a big crop of new runners ready to seize their opportunities and move to the front.
Cheers to another fantastic season like no other.