Flashback Friday: FM's Steady Legs Win 4x800m at 2017 States

The looming battle in the girls 4x800m relay in 2017 at States had a lot of intriguing elements going in, both for the teams that would be running in it and the team that wouldn't. Top seeded were two teams from Section 11 that had gone head-to-head for the top placing with West Babylon winning out over Ward Melville by 8:59.01 to 9:01.87 at their state qualifier. Third seeded at 9:03.18 from the Section 3 SQ was Fayetteville-Manlius, and Shenendehowa was fourth seeded after a 9:07.71 at the S2 SQ, from which Niskayuna also emerged as a qualifier. Top seeded among the smaller Division 2 schools was Bronxville with a 9:14.46 in an easy win at S1 SQ, but D1 John Jay-Cross River had also won easily there with a time of 9:15.05 and was the Loucks Games champ. Another team expected to be in the mix was 8th seeded Notre Dame which somewhat oddly was running a completely different squad from the one that had finished 2nd behind Kellenberg as the top small school from the CHSAA championship.

Ward Melville, West Babylon, Notre Dame, and Niskayuna would go on to finish among the top 8 teams at New Balance Outdoor Nationals a week later, but missing from the competition at States was the team that would win the national championship with an 8:51.43 time, Shoreham-Wading River. At States Wildcat distance stars Katherine Lee and Alexandra Hays were both doing the 1500m and 3000m double.

Another big factor in the race was that that three of the anchors for teams in the race included the top trio from the 800m results, Hannah Reale for Shenendehowa, Kaitlin Ryan for Bronxville, and Paige Keefer for West Babylon, so each of those teams could be expected to make up some big ground late in the race. JJ-CR's Brooke Nohilly had been 7th in the 800m and could be dangerous, while FM's Phoebe White was 9th but was running the third leg for the Hornets. Also on the third leg was Jessica Lawson for 12th-seeded Corning, and she had won the 3000m in a tremendous battle with Katherine Lee and finished 2nd in the 1500m to North Rockland freshman Katelyn Tuohy. Despite the big possibilities for anchor legs in the race, the key element was that only FM had four runners who had gone sub 2:21 in the 800m during the season, plus still another who would be the lead-off leg and who had no 800m mark but was ranked in the state's top 10 in the 1500m.

Fourteen teams lined up for the start of the second and seeded section of the 4x800m. From the gun it was a battle between West Babylon's Dana Beggins and FM's Sophie Ryan as they hit the end of their legs about three to four seconds ahead of the other squads with WB at 2:13.53 split after a good hand-off and FM at a 2:13.57 after a poor one. FM's Palmer Madsen ran with WB's Noela Franco through the first lap but broke away over the last 300 meters for a 2:15.86 leg that opened up a four second lead as Bronxville under a fast leg by Caroline Brashear chopped away much of the 6-second gap after the first leg. Phoebe White on the third leg was top ranked 800m runner on the Hornets, and she pretty much salted away the win with a 2:13.53 leg that opened up a six-second lead over Bronxville and seven seconds over West Babylon and John Jay.

On the anchor FM's Rebecca Walters stayed comfortably ahead as the an exciting battle for 2nd developed far behind her. The Hornets finished up at 8:56.41 for the title after a team-tops 2:13.45 leg by Walters. Bronxville's Kaitlin Ryan relinquished 2nd place to WB's Paige Keefer on the first lap of the anchor, but she stormed back with the second fastest leg of the race to get the silver for the Broncos. John Jay-Cross River's Brooke Nohilly took the stick from her sister Kathryn on the anchor and ran the fastest leg overall at 2:08.49 to push her team into 3rd ahead of West Babylon. Anchors Hannah Reale and Sierra Dinneen brought their Shenendehowa and Notre Dame teams home in 5th and 6th.