VVS Invitational Meet Preview

Although the 2011 New York state cross country season is barely two weeks old, the field for Saturday’s Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Invitational in Verona, N.Y., bristles with star power.

Fayetteville-Manlius, the five-time defending Nike Cross Nationals champ on the girls’ side, is here. Ditto for North Shore. The boys’ field is equally impressive, featuring Shaker, the defending State Federation champion, along with a burgeoning Rush-Henrietta team and F.M.

But don’t be fooled; it’s still just September. While this meet could produce some surprising early-season results, the race, which takes place on the site of the Nov. 12 NYSPHSAA championships, is more a fact-finding mission than fitness check for most.

“Our first priority is to gain experience on the state course,” said Shaker senior Jon Vallecorsa, who finished 25th at the 2010 NYSPHSAA Championships in Class C. “Last year we did the same thing in a meet in the preseason at Pawling. It was a great learning experience, and I really think it helped us at States.”

Rush-Henrietta coach Mike DeMay expressed a similar sentiment.

“I’m not looking for anything extraordinary this time of year,” said DeMay, whose team finished fourth at the 2010 NYSPHSAA Championships in Class AA. “If we’re running well this time of year, I’m scared for the rest of the season.”

Early-season sensibilities aside, it’s a treat to see these teams on one course. Let’s take a look at the field in Verona.

(Villacorsa): Shakerrunning.com


Shaker returns to defend its first state championship. Seniors Christian Delago (6th at the 2010 NYSPHSAA Champs in AA), Mike Libruk, Vallecorsa, and Ryan Recchia- four of the team’s top five from the 2010 team- are back. Senior Ethan Hausamann, a former soccer player with 9:42 3,200-meter credentials on the track, could surprise in his first cross country season.

“I think our goals are similar to last season,” said Vallecorsa. “We’re working hard to defend our state championship and would like to return to (Nike Cross) Nationals and run competitively there.”

Rush-Henrietta returns senior Nate Kozyra, who is coming off of a strong summer, along with fourth-year runners Andrew Sweeney, Colby Burke, and Alex Raymond. Sophomore Mickey Burke, who won the Section 5 cross country title as a freshman, is also back.

“I have a solid five,” said Rush-Henrietta coach Mike DeMay. “They’re very competitive and very hungry this year.”

Fayetteville-Manlius can never be overlooked. Third a year ago in the NYSPHSAA Championships at Class AA, FM is led by senior Nick Ryan, who finished 13th in that race. Other returners include seniors Jules Wellner and Ben Thomas.

(Jillian Fanning): espn.rise.go.com


Fayetteville-Manlius is back. The No. 1 ranked team in America, coach Bill Aris returns seniors Christie Rutledge and Katie Sischo and junior Jillian Fanning, all of whom cracked the top 10 in the team’s Nike Cross Nationals’ win last fall

North Shore, the NYSPHSAA Champion in Class A and a Nike Cross Nationals qualifier a year ago, returns its top five runners, led by senior Samantha Nadel (11th at NXN last year). Senior Brianna Nerud is coming off of an outstanding outdoor season that saw her place seventh in the 2,000-meter steeplechase in the IAAF World Youth Championships in France.

“Every spot is up for grabs,” said North Shore coach Neal Levy. “There are no permanent spots on the team. Every day it could change.”

Seniors Meghan and Kate McCormick lead Canandaigua, second a year ago in the NYSPHSAA Champs in Class A. Senior Kendall D’Amore also returns.