We say it every year, and 2022 is no different. You can't judge the true strength of a Saratoga team before Suburbans. In the years past, it's been the breakout race for squads that would go on to win State and National Championships with ease. Part of a peaking process that brings success, the Suburban Council is the first meet of real consequence on the schedule, a jumping off point for the rest of the Season. And here we are again.
After a few weeks of jigsaw puzzle racing, the expected Top 5 for the Blue Streaks all toed the line together. Led by Emily Bush, the streaks did just that, going 1 through 5 for a perfect score, and adding to their streak of titles. Alycia Hart, who had pulled out halfway through the Burnt Hills Invite two weeks back ran as their third girl. McKinley Wheeler, who missed most of last year, but put together a stellar Track Season, closed the door on the Top 5, solidifying their entire team under 18-minutes. With only two seniors on their team, eyes note their 6th runner, an 8th grader, now has a higher Speed Rating than any #3 runner on every other team in the State. It was the best performance by a Girls Team this year, nationwide.
They weren't the only story, though. Bethlehem behind them is a good team, running with 43-second compression. While a trip to States may have to run through Saratoga, a trip to Nationals is a realistic possibility. Led by Rylee Davis and her 6th place finish, the girls of Delmar have been ranked NY #2 all year. If our State Meet had an at-large system (c'mon NY), they very well could be well ahead of the pack behind.
Much like the girls, the boys of Saratoga have been putting together the pieces throughout the Season. At McQuaid, the streaks took third overall without Caleb Yuhasz. He finished as their second man yesterday in 7th place. At both Burnt Hills and McQuaid, Jacob Bernd was finishing at the fifth position or further back. Yesterday, he put together his best Speed Rating of the Season in 4th. And even yesterday, Saratoga ran without Owen Blaisdell, a 160 runner at McQuaid. Despite this, led by constant Mason Talarico, the boys of Saratoga put together the best boys team performance of the year in their Suburban win yesterday.
Now, to be fair, Corning comes ahead when you look at the compiled Speed Ratings. But it puts Saratoga in real contention to upset the favorites, and pushes them ahead of a strong pack of teams vying for that bid to Nationals. To clarify, Monroe-Woodbury did beat them head-to-head two weeks back, and Saint Anthony's did run their best race at Bowdoin Park that same weekend too, where the performances will really matter.
But this State Race is getting more interesting by the day.