Despite Box Assignments coming out later than usual this year, our minds haven't slowed down thinking about the potential for the 2019 rendition of the Manhattan College HS Invitational. Looking at the Accepted Teams list gives us an idea of the names to know heading into the meet. With that brief look, six burning questions come to mind, all to be played out by Saturday evening. Check out what we're looking forward to most.
Note: These Questions are based more off a merge, than a particular race, as we don't know whether teams are entered in the same race, or not.
Three Burning Questions For The Girls
- Back To The Beginning - Entering 2019, many people wondered, what was left for Katelyn Tuohy (North Rockland) to accomplish? Undefeated for two years in XC, with unreal performances, kicked off by her record run here in 2017. Well, there is one thing, that could one-up what many consider to be the greatest prep XC career in history. Like the Sub-2 Marathon, there is one mark thought humanly impossible, until someone actually does it. Could a prep female athlete break 13mins at VCP? Before Tuohy, when the Course Record stood at 13:53, it was laughable. Then Tuohy ran 13:21.8, and many called it the pinnacle of performance. It was rated a 166 Speed Rating. Since then Tuohy went on a tear, never dipping below a 166 Speed Rating again. Now, she returns to Manhattan. Tuohy would need a 173 Speed Rating, to dip under 13mins at VCP. She's exceeded that five times in 2018, however her debut effort at Great American was rated a 161. Labeled a rust-buster, Tuohy noted she simply wanted to PR at VCP. Breaking 13mins at VCP would be a defining moment in the sport, but whether or not it is in the cards relies on timing. Whether or not it's in the cards, is yet to be seen. Aside from Tuohy, Brooke Rauber (Tully), Jenna Schulz (Liverpool), and Charlotte Bednar (Lawrenceville) all have individual glory on their minds, in case North Rockland is entered in a Letter Race, or is off her game.
- Gain One, Lose Another - While Katelyn Tuohy is the favorite for one of the deepest races in Meet History, there is some history looking to be made behind her. Tuohy currently holds the Freshman Course Record at 14:12.4, which was rated a 147 Speed Rating at the time. Karrie Baloga (Cornwall), a freshman, ran to a Course Record at Paul Short last Saturday. Could she take aim for that Record? Baloga ran 14:49 to win a Letter Race last year, but is a much improved runner. And what of Hannah Kaercher (Manlius), who ran to a 141 Speed Rating one month ago? Could she take a jump, and shoot for that record? Both representing teams shooting for low team points, the effort could produce some big numbers, in this race-within-a-race.
- Team-Tying Challenge - The Girls of Manlius currently have 9 Eastern State Championship Team Titles. Saratoga Girls hold the record with 10 Titles. Is this the year Manlius evens the score? They're currently US #3, and look to be the top seed in the field. Their arsenal includes Claire Walters, the top returner and fastest time of 2018, despite not being entered in the Eastern's Field. Walters holds the claim to being one of only six girls to ever break 14mins on the VCP Course. Beyond Manlius, who is there to challenge? Bolles of Florida looks to be the biggest threat, after placing 5th at Great American on a tie-breaker. Morgantown of WV has three athletes at 131 Speed Ratings or better, but will be looking to improve their 4th and 5th Runners. North Rockland is currently NY #5 and Cornwall is NY #6, the closest in-state rivals. Haddonfield NJ and Champlain Valley VT both bring in balanced teams, looking to displace.
Three Burning Questions For The Boys
- Sorting NXN-NE - It's time to lay the cards on the table for Northeast Regional. 2019 may be the most competitive race for a spot at NXN at Bowdoin since the races inception. There are seven teams with potential to fill two spots, and four of them are racing at Manhattan. Projections have Reigning Champs Bishop Hendricken with a 10-point lead over Downingtown West, who won in 2015. 30 points back is Christian Brothers Academy, who have six Manhattan Titles to their name, and who may have taken a big jump since their last race. It was there they beat LaSalle College HS, who rounds out the contenders for the title. Noticeably not in the race is La Salle Academy, who beat Hendricken at Great American, and is currently NXN-NE #1. Also missing is Coe-Brown of NH, who beat Hendricken in the early season, and West Windsor-Plainsboro North, who ran strong at Shore Coaches.
Note: Since the original writing, we've learned both WW-PN and La Salle Academy are entered in the race. They were not listed on the Direct Athletics Accepted Teams list.
- FL-NE Rematch - At last year's Foot Locker Northeast Championship, Sam Lawler (Pittsford-Mendon) and Matt Farrell (Loomis Chaffee, CT) finished in nearly the identical time. Finishing order wasn't important at the time, as they both were in the qualifying window for Foot Locker. However, one year later with an Eastern's Title on the line, you'll be sure to see some fireworks. They both ran 191 at that race on the same course, albeit the 5K distance, and are the top seeded athletes in the race. Lawler is currently undefeated after two major Invitationals, while Farrell will be opening up his Season here.
- Manlius Effect - In both the aforementioned battles, Manlius will be looking to be a factor. On the Individual side, they have an interchangeable Top 3, all capable of running with the front group. Geoff Howles was nearly 30-seconds faster than Lawler at States last year, while Lawler had the faster time at Manhattan. Neither were head-to-head. Peyton Geehrer is the second best returner to Manhattan, behind only Shaw Powell of CBA, while Sam Otis finished dead even with Geehrer at the ESM Invite. The team placing will more so depend on the backend of the Top 5. It's been a full month since FM has raced, and currently, in-state rivals Burnt Hills (not entered) has their entire Top 5 splitting the Hornets. Will that backend see improvement in that time? If that gets tightened up, Manlius could be the team to beat at Manhattan, their first win since 2014. If not, the NY-Region could be just as close as the NE Region is predicted to be.