Boyss Class A Preview
The preseason projections for 2018 had Fayetteville-Manlius with big lead over two-time reigning champ Corning. An NXN berth was likely to be on the line since Burnt Hills in Class B was certainly redoubling efforts to nail down one of the two automatic tickets for NY after being badly snubbed the year before.
So 2018 was no big surprise. FM returned to the tops at States with its first title in four years and seventh overall by placing five guys in the top 10 and beating Corning by one of the largest margins ever at 25-87. Smithtown moved up to 3rd, but Shenendehowa was a bit of a surprise to be the team in 4th off of preseason projections that had the Plainsmen behind Saratoga and Guilderland in Section 2. Arlington, Warwick Valley, Penfield, Frontier, and East Meadow filled out the scorecard in the States A race.
Following on States medals as a sophomore and junior, Saratoga's Shea Weilbaker ran to a 10-second victory at Sunken Meadow. The Toga star then finished 2nd at NXR-NY and placed 25th at NXN. FM's Geoff Howles was 2nd at States, followed in by a Hornet pack that included Matthew Tripp and Garrett Brennan in 6th and 7th and Peyton Geehrer and Sam Otis in 9th and 10th. Warwick Valley's Behailu Bekele-Arcuri was 3rd, Arlington's Colin Waters was 4th, and Fairport's Sean Henretta was 5th.
At NXR-NY, FM scored close to its States total as it outdistanced Burnt Hills by 28-78, with Liverpool, Corning, and Smithtown in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The Hornet attack was led by Brennan, Howles, and Otis in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Besides Weilbaker, earning NXN at-large berths from Class A were Bekele-Arcuri and Irondequoit senior Ryan Thompson.
Out in Portland, FM finished 5th with Brennan leading the attack in 24th. Weilbaker was tops for Class A's trio of at-large guys in 25th.
The landscape for 2019's Class A race looks both very familiar and eerily strange. Fayetteville-Manlius is projected on top in NY again and is rated 3rd or 4th in the nation in the Tully Runners preseason rankings. Section 2 has a pretty standard pack of pugilists battling at the top as reigning champ Shenendehowa heads for a showdown with Guilderland, Saratoga, and Shaker, and Niskayuna and Ballston Spa circle around the edges. Reigning Sectional champs Corning, Smithtown, Warwick Valley, Penfield, and Frontier are all either favored again or close to the top, with contenders from last year like Ithaca, Northport, Washingtonville, McQuaid, and Orchard Park hoping to emerge from the shadows and grab the 2019 spotlight.
The eerie side of the Class A scene is what's missing. 23 of the top 30 rated runners from 2018 were seniors, along with 22 of the top finishers at States. Class A usually does have a high rate of turnover due to senioritis, but last year's case was more extreme than usual. And as always, some teams got decimated by senior losses while others barely got touched, turning the previous year's sectional races upside down. NY's chances for a third NXN ticket are also not very strong this year with only CHSAA favorite Xavier rated among the top 70 teams in the nation along with FM.
Fayetteville-Manlius lost two tops guys Garrett Brennan and Matthew Tripp from last year's team along with #7 guy Nolan Chiles, but the return of a top trio of Geoff Howles, Sam Otis, and Peyton Geehrer and also Yakob Kelley for 2019 means that the Hornets should only need to bring up a few guys at the back to vie for a second NXN championship. FM's frequent battles with Liverpool in recent years in S3-A appear less likely to be a feature of 2019, but the Warriors have a strong duo of Jake McGowan and Carter Rodriguez on the lead, so we'll see how that develops.
S2-A as always will be a hotbed of competition with four teams likely to be ranked in the Class A top 10 when the season begins. Shenendehowa, Saratoga, and Guilderland went 1-2-3 in a close Sectionals battle last year, but all three lost their top two runners for 2019. Shaker was further back in 4th but returns everyone for this year.
Elsewhere, Ithaca hasn't captured the S4-A since 2013, but the Little Red appear to have a little more depth and better compression than a Corning team that has won the last six Sectionals but lost three of the top 5 from last year's team. In A9-A, Warwick Valley goes for its 21st Sectional win in 22 years and returns most of its 3rd-place States squad, but the Wildcats could still get a challenge from Washingtonville and Monroe-Woodbury. Reigning S11-A champ Smithtown had big losses and should get a challenge from an equally slammed Northport. Frontier and Orchard Park should again go head-to-head in S2-A; Penfield, McQuaid, Irondequoit, and Fairport should duke it out in S5-A; and North Rockland, Suffern, and Arlington should match up in S1-A.
Warwick Valley's Behailu Bekele-Arcuri finished 2nd in 2017 and 3rd in 2018 in the States A race, so he will be in strong contention for the title this year. Fayetteville-Manlius's Geoff Howles finished 2nd last year though, and he has teammates Peyton Geehrer and Sam Otis back from last year's top 10 to help him pack it in at the top. Two other guys back from last year's top 20 include Corning's Torrey Jacobson-Evans and North Rockland's Daniel Shephard.