Boys Class B Preview
From the start of the season, there was no suspense about who was going to win States Class B. Two-time reigning champ Burnt Hills was going to run far ahead of the rest of the field and then hopefully get the ticket to NXN by finishing in one of the two top spots at NXR-NY in 2018.
That all happened, as the Spartans amassed the most miserly total ever for a States B winner at 22, beating their 2017 score by 3 points with three guys running in the top 10. Pearl River edged Cornwall by 1 point at 96-97 for 2nd, and Pioneer and Honeoye Falls-Lima filled out the top 5. A year after finishing 4th at States, Burnt Hills' Tyler Berg raced to a 5-second victory over Maine-Endwell's Parker Stokes, who was also the 2017 runner-up. Nanuet's Ryan Guerci, Burnt Hills' Aidan Gillooley, and North Shore's Jack Rosencrans finished 3rd through 5th.
At States the season was just getting going for Burnt Hills and some top Class B guys. At NXR-NY, the Spartans settled in comfortably behind Fayetteville-Manlius to claim the second NY ticket to Portland and insure that they wouldn't get burnt again. Parker Stokes won the battle for the top spot over Saratoga's Shea Weilbaker, and Ryan Guerci finished 6th behind FM's top trio to grab an at-large ticket. Tyler Berg led the Burnt Hills corps in 7th place, and Aidan Gillooley, Evan Brennan, Nick Hunziker, Kevin Board, David Metacarpa, and Dante Ubriaco joined him in the trip to Portland.
At NXN, Stokes led all NY runners with a 22nd place, and fellow at-large B runner Guerci was 51st. Berg again led the Burnt Hills contingent in 32nd, as the Spartans finished 14th, nine years after their previous visit to NXN
But after NXN there was still one B runner out on the trails. Pittsford Mendon's Sam Lawler had finished 8th at States with a 179 TR run, but at Foot Locker NE he upped his performance to the 191 TR level to finish 7th. Two weeks later Lawler placed 31st out at Nationals in San Diego to cap off a great year for the Class B guys.
The reigning champs lose their top four runners to graduation and are still rated #1 in the preseason rankings. Same old, same old, and it happens all the time.
Actually no, this almost never happens, and it took a lot of unusual things for Burnt Hills to be rated as the top team again in 2019. The last time a Class B champion was so brutally thwacked by graduation was after the 2012 season when Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons lost six of its top 7, and in 2013 it finished 11th at Sectionals.
Burnt Hills does have three experienced seniors back from last year's Nationals team, however, and joining Kevin Board, David Metacarpa, and Dante Ubriaco will be talented sophomore Ryan Allison and maybe freshman Matthew Rounds plus seniors Mikhail Troyan and Zackary Scribner. The Spartans still have the best package of top level guys and depth in Class B.
Although the competition for the States title should a hundred times closer than in 2018, Burnt Hills' continued leadership is also due to the fact that last year's runner-up Pearl River lost five of its top 6 and 3rd-place Cornwall was not only similarly whacked but also moved up to Class A. The three top challengers to the Spartans were not even at States last year but do have reasonably intact squads. All three have also won state championships within the last five years.
East Aurora won States C titles in 2014 and 2015, and it has a senior quartet of Alex Hillyard, Nick Ebling, Thomas Wlodarczyk, and Gavin McPherson that should be able to go head-to-head with the Spartans. Pittsford Mendon took the 2014 and 2015 B titles preceding Burnt Hills' streak, and FL Nationals finalist Sam Lawler and his fellow senior James Smith might be able to lead a younger Viking squad to an upset in 2019. Finally there is that small wonder Mount Academy, which won the 2017 C title and then got booted even further up the line to Class B. The Eagles had a more subdued year in 2018 but still finished 11th at NXR-NY, and States finalist senior Travis Meier leads a Mount team that always has a lot of depth.
Among last year's States teams, Pioneer, Pearl River, Westhampton Beach are all on missions to build some depth. Honeoye Falls-Lima is also not too far back, though the Cougars lost their top two of 10th place finisher Cameron McDaniel and Ahren Spaker.
The top six finishers from last year's States race are gone, and that leaves Miller Place's Thomas Cirrito and Pittsford Mendon's Sam Lawler as the leading returning duo. States medalsts Jason Linzer of Seaford and Nick Berg of East Syracuse-Minoa should also be up there, and Windsor's Josh Stone moves in after a 4th place finish at State C. Burnt Hills' Kevin Board and David Metacarpa will be trying to make it two in a row for the Spartans following Tyler Berg's win last year.