The 2021 Season can be viewed as a return to normalcy. After nearly two years of uncertain schedules, varying restrictions, and limited competitive opportunities, cross country athletes around the US have been treated to a 'regular' season for the first time since March of 2020.
However, with that return, two teams from across the country, are doing something that is anything but normal.
In southern California, the Newbury Park boys are redefining what is possible from a squad of seven. In northern New York, the Saratoga girls are demonstrating why the Empire State had dominated the national scene for almost the entirety of the 2000's.
Both are ranked No. 1 in the latest MileSplit50. Both are considered Top 5 All-Time Teams.
The pair could barely be farther apart on the map. One with warm temperatures, flat courses, and pristine weather. The other with the bitter cold of lake-effect snow, rolling hills, and barely-above-freezing wind chill on race days.
However, their differences might just end there.
Newbury Park, led by Sean Brosnan alongside his wife Tanya, may be new on the scene, kicking off their HS coaching endeavors in 2016, but they've made an immediate impact on the sport at both a local and national level. Saratoga, led by Art Kranick alongside his wife Linda, have been around since the 1980's, and have shaped the sport of girl's cross country ever since.Seeing a pattern?
The New York roots run deep in both programs. Sean Brosnan was born and grew up on Long Island, experiencing the level of competition the Empire State has to offer. After moving on to Adams State, and then his own running aspirations, he would spend many summers back home, a counselor at the Running School Cross Country Camp. No doubt, many of the training philosophies seen implemented have roots to East Coast training, and have made waves in the California running scene.
have been mainstays of the sport since nearly its inception. Starting up
in 1985, the sport of girls cross country was still in its infancy.
Quickly, their success became apparent, treating the female equivalent
of the sport no less than the males who had been running since the turn
of the century. They were one of the first powerhouse teams for female
running, being listed atop Marc Bloom's end-of-season national ranking
numerous times throughout the 90s, the precursor to the NTN competition
first started in 2004. Not only that, but they're one of only two coaches to win both a boys and girls NXN title, completing the feat in 2005.
Tools of the Trade
Both teams utilize some of the same tools in their success.
Pair of siblings within the Top 5? Check.
Another pair of twins up there as well? Check there too.
A demonstrated ability to run with tight compression? Both teams have demonstrated they can get their Top 5 under 30-seconds compression, as well as vying for the Individual Title.
How about athletes at the 6th and 7th position, who are able to fill in to the Top 5 as an insurance policy? Both teams maintain a sub-45 second compression through six athletes.
And what about experience? For both teams, it's been a long time coming. Newbury Park and Saratoga both won National in 2019, and each brought back pieces, either directly or indirectly, that forged their current teams. The ability to seal the deal on race day is key.
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Join us, as we dig in to both squads and examine the season they've had, the reasons for their ranks, and the historical significance of each.