Flashback Friday: FM + Nick Ryan Solve VVS Mud in Squeaker

The States XC championship at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill HS in 2011 was upstate in Section 3, so of course there was mud. The rain had poured down late in the week, and early on Friday afternoon there were already calls being sent home to parents that they should collect some extra practice shoes from their kids' rooms to bring up since the ones that had been used for the course preview were goners. Bails of hay had been set out around the course to use for spreading over the muck, but it would have taken the year's entire output of Texas to have made a difference.

New York was returning to the four class system of A-B-C-D in 2011 after seven years that included a fifth AA class, so the States meet was a mash-up of the top four classes into three new groups while D stayed basically its same tiny self with about two-thirds as many teams as A-B-C. The results were a little crazy as on the boys' side only East Aurora was a repeat champion (all of the 2010 boys individual champs were seniors), while on the girls' side Mary Cain was a repeat winner in Class C while her Bronxville team joined Fayetteville-Manlius, North Shore, and Maple Grove as repeaters, leaving East Aurora as the lone 2010 champ left standing outside in the game of musical chairs.

Two of the close team battles were waged in Class C, as the Bronco girls again held off archrival Greenwich by 3 points with Meredith Rizzo in 5th place joining Cain at the top. The boys' C battle was even more exciting as Holland Patent took its second title in three years and beat out off Pawling and Fonda-Fultonville by a 74-76-79 score. Jillian Fanning led the FM girls to their third straight 15 point score to take the States A race, Samantha Nadel, Brianna Nerud, and Jessica Donahue were 1-2-3 for North Shore in Class B, and Megan Marsh and Hope Pietrocarlo finished behind Pavilion champ Elizabeth Valento to power the Red Dragons to their second straight D title. For the boys, East Aurora was solid again for the win in Class B and 2010 runner-up Dan Lennon of Peru took 1st, CBA-Syracuse's Feds champ Brendan Smith won Class C, and Barker won its second ever D title and Notre Dame-Batavia's Jeff Antolos took the individual crown.

The boys A race went off first, so the guys there had the best conditions on a day in which the field in front of the start was pounded into a sea of mud, the narrower mid-race sections turned into streams of mud that forced more adventurous runners to test the high grass on the sides, and the finishing stretch was just a winding bayou of muck that that turned everything into a drunken sailors' reel on the last approach to the end point on the VVS track. The course surface changed so dramatically that Valento's winning time for the final girls D race got a speed rating of 124 from Tully Runners for her tough slog, though the same time for a Class A boy would have rated only a 112 TR (36 seconds difference in speed rating value).

FM's Nick Ryan was having a big year and was a huge favorite going into the boys A race following a 13th place in the 2010 Class AA race as a sophomore, and the Hornets were also a solid favorite over reigning champ Shaker and Rush-Henrietta. Ryan blasted out early and for a while had senior teammate Matt Deyo as his closest pursuer. By the end though Victor's MJ Erb finished off an incredible  move from 30th at around the mile mark all the way up to 2nd (he stayed out on the less chewed-up borders), and he would be the only one to come in less than a half minute behind Ryan's winning 16.28.4 time. Deyo got the 2nd team place, but then it was a nail-biter for FM as Rush-Henrietta sophomore Mickey Burke finished 4th overall and his Royal Comets team did better than expected and got five guys in the top 40. FM got Ben Thomas in at 14th and freshman Bryce Millar in at 21st, but then the Hornets had to do 48 seconds of nail chewing before Conor Farrell finished in at 64th to earn a 63-64 win over the Comets. Shaker and Arlington finished in 3rd and 4th at 81-84.

And again, I was filming for Section 1 back in 2011 and had no association with MileSplit, so please excuse the extra cheers for Mike and Sibby and my local guys.