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!
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.
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.
The steady shrinkage of Class
D is not quite so evident on the boys' side since in 2019 they were able to assemble 79 full teams at the eleven sectional State Qualifier meets, and eight of the ten D teams at States ran above the minimal 100 speed rating level. Still the other three classes average 120 teams at SQs, and more than half of the D teams come from just two sections, S3 and S5, while four sections have two or less teams and six have four or less. And after a pandemic-plagued year in which many D teams saw at most some dual-meet action, the status of a lot of the smallest school teams is in doubt.
Still, this year starts with some wonderful news of team migrations down from Class C, as S9-D has been beefed up with Tri-Valley and S11-D gets traditional power Port Jefferson back, the only school that has competed at all four class levels during the States meet era after 1950. Although Section 3 again dominates the top of the preseason list of team rankings, the wealth seems to be better spread around this year. And for once in recent times, we can't just pencil in three-time repeat champion Beaver River as a prohibitive States favorite. In fact it took some creative accounting to move the Beavers into the #3 spot this year, but we know full well what the XC gods do to any hapless prognosticator who fails to give Beaver River its much-deserved due. 19 state championships for the Beavers, and counting.
The last team to block Beaver River's route to States was Sauquoit Valley which finished 3rd there in 2015 and 2016. This year the Indians appear to have the strongest and best balanced team in the state, though sectional rival Tully will be charging close behind along with Beaver River for the always hotly contested S3-D crown. 2016 States champ Maple Grove again appears to be on the lead in Section 6, while Oakfield-Alabama will battle 2019 sectional champ Arkport-Canaseraga and newly arrived Marcus Whitman in S5-D. Two big mysteries that need to be solved is what team will emerge in S4-D and whether Section 10 power Norwood-Norfolk will be competing in Class C or D.
Shelter Island's Kal Lewis won the States D race for three straight years before graduating in 2019, and now the question is whether Beaver River's Colton Kempney who was the runner-up as a freshman and sophomore can capture the crown as a senior. A number of younger runners are lined up to take their shot for the win at Chenango Valley.
Check out the preseason previews below.
PREVIEW OF RUNNERS
PREVIEW OF Teams