New York Girls XC Class D Preview

MileSplit NY is once more kicking off the previews of another XC season like no other with an in-depth series of articles that will continue through the month!

Following on a 2020-21 year for cross country that was shortened or missing entirely for teams in New York and was held in the fall in some places and the spring in others, this year the outlook seems more promising for an extended schedule that will culminate with state and national championships. Still, in mid August we are keeping our XC fingers crossed that all the sections and conferences can be restored to the traditional fall slate of action.

We begin coverage of this year's XC season with previews that will try to pull together the somewhat murky info from last year's XC meets along with more insights from the track season's long distance races. In 2020, only Section 5 and 6 and the CHSAA held championships that fairly closely resembled their usual local competitions, though many of the other sections held large end-of-season alternatives in November or April. In the NYC area, however, the NYAIS independent schools had no XC season and the PSAL public schools had neither XC nor track and field competition. So yes, this year we begin the XC campaign with a lot more questions than in past years.


The previews and rankings for the XC runners and teams will as usual be based as much as possible on the speed ratings posted by Tully Runners rather than the raw "best times" generally used in other states. Speed ratings for XC runners are composed from comparing the times from individuals on a wide variety of courses under varying conditions and are much more informative than the "best time" lists. 


Class D has been shrinking away for many years and now has only a little above 50% of the number of full teams as the other classes. Of the 53 D teams that fielded at least five runners at the 2019 State Qualifiers, only 19 ran at a minimal team speed rating of 30 or higher, and only four of the nine teams at States ran at 20+ level. Six of the eleven sections can no longer be said to have competitive teams at the state level, if they have any D teams at all, as only western NY and Section 2 have teams there anymore.

Despite the lack of numbers in Class D, it has been home to some of the top runners in the state such as Sage Hurta and Brooke Rauber in recent years, and the battles between the handful of top teams has been exciting to watch. In the States 2019 Class D scrum, Delhi edged former champs Maple Grove and Tully by a 50-55-57 score.

As school sizes have shrunk across the state, a stream of teams have moved from Class C down to D, and occasionally one has some strong talent. This year's big mover and shaker could be South Lewis, the 2017 Class D champ, which returns to D after a move up to C in 2018. For the only time we can remember, a team will have a pair of sisters at 1-2 on the class leaderboard to start the season. South Lewis's Brynn and Lexi Bernard will try to duplicate the Falcons' feat at States from four years ago that was led by another pair of high-flying sisters -- Hannah and Hali Ielfield -- and included 8th grader Lexi as a top-10 finisher. Another great head-to-head battle could shape up this year if Norwood-Norfolk opts to run in Class D, though they are previewed in Class C (status is uncertain).

Hopefully by the McQuaid invitational in early October we will see signs of Class D coming back to life strongly following the year of lockdowns.

Check out the preseason previews below.