NXN NY: FM upsets Shaker; Place takes individual title

By Christopher Hunt

WAPPINGERS FALLS – Before the race, Fayetteville-Manlius coach Bill Aris reminded his team that the race would be the last chance they had this season to prove who they really were.

“I told them this season I’ve yet to see them run to their potential,” the coach said. “I told them that if they don’t come here and run the way that they are capable of we’re going to end the season with a lot of regrets.”

Fayetteville-Manlius don’t have any regrets after Saturday. F-M, running as Manilus XC, upset US #8-ranked Shaker to win the Nike New York Cross Regional championship at Bowdoin Park with 45 points. Shaker finished second with 59 followed by Rush Henrietta (Comet TC).

Mark McGurrin led the team in fourth, finishing 16:09.0 with teammate Nick Ryan trailing in fifth in 16:14.9. F-M finished third at the state meet two weeks ago behind Shaker and Warwick Valley, which was fourth Saturday. McGurrin barely made it to the starting line at the state meet after showing a 102-degree fever the night before.

“We were sick at states,” Aris said. “I don’t make excuses but we were sick. Today, that was the real Mark McGurrin that ran.”

Andrew Roache placed ninth in 16:22.2 to round out F-M’s frontal attack. But F-M’s back end shut the door when Andrew Veilleux finished 28th and the team finished their fourth, fifth and sixth runners before Shaker’s fourth man crossed the line.

“The past two weeks were just about redemption,” McGurrin said. “Today we were just about fulfillment. We wanted to be able to say that we had at least one good race this season.”

It was Shaker’s first loss this season. Most considered the team scoring a race for second place since the Bison have looked unbeatable this season. But while F-M posted its best race of the season, Shaker’s back end struggled after the second mile a couldn’t make up ground in the end which left the door open for an upset.

“It feels great to win when nobody expects you to,” McGurrin said.

Saratoga Springs senior Sam Place also posted his best race of the season, winning the individual title win 15:54.5. Place pulled even with Washingtonville’s Martin Hehir with about 1200 meters to go. For weeks, Place has been in contention to win championship races in the closing stages and each week he’s watched it slip from his grasp. This time decided that he wouldn’t be the one to push the pace.

Place sat behind the leaders in the first mile and when Hehir, who finished second in 15:57.6, went ahead Place tucked behind. Then he made one last move with a quarter-mile left to win and join the girls team in Portland, Ore., for Nike Cross Nationals next Saturday.

“Ever since last year’s outdoor state qualifier I’ve been thinking about this race,” Place said. “This was the goal for me. This is a great place to have my best race.”