Villa Bears Invitational: Cain, Bronxville roll through local course

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Cover Photo courtesy of Tim Fulton

The Bronx, N.Y. - While many teams ventured north Saturday for the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Invitational, including the Bronxville boys squad, the Bronxville girls team's agenda was local: the Villa Bears Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. With the Manhattan College Invitational looming on Oct. 9, coach Jim Mitchell wanted this group to give him a sign on a course that might be considered their home.

The answer was unmistakable.

Led by Mary Cain’s sizzling 14:16.1 trip through the 2.5-mile loop, Bronxville seized command of the race early, putting five runners in the top 10 for an emphatic follow-up to the team’s win at the Randolph (N.J.) Invitational on Sept. 10.

“I think we’re running well right now,” said Mitchell. “We might not be Fayetteville-Manlius, but we could be up there as third or fourth in the state, depending on how things go.”

St. John Villa and Notre Dame Academy both finished with 98 points but Villa won based on a sixth-place tiebreaker.

Cain shattered the meet record of 15:05 set by Holy Trinity’s Katie DiCamillo. In her second cross-country season, she has become decidedly more comfortable on the trails.

“This year, I feel a lot more confident,” said Cain, who benefited from serious summer training for the first time. “This year I’m more prepared.”

Cardozo senior Alexis Panisse  trailed Cain closely, along with Bronxville’s Meredith Rizzo (third in 15:18.1), before losing her in the backhills. The defending PSAL cross country champion finished in second in 15:07.1.

“I’ve really been working hard because I want to get a scholarship,” said Panisse, who has been contacted by schools like Columbia, Penn, Texas A&M, and Miami. “I want to run at a Division I college.”

After she sprung loose in the backhills, Cain scampered down the final hill and breezed down the quarter-mile straightaway for the win.

“I told her, I really want to see her grimacing coming to the finish just one time,” said Mitchell.

It’s a side of Cain many of us have yet to see.

NOTES: Holy Trinity junior Caroline Brown placed fifth in a personal-best 15:51.5. It was a major breakthrough for Brown, who ran alongside close friend and current Duke freshman Colleen Schmidt for the past two years. “I think Colleen Schmidt leaving is actually a good thing for Caroline,” said Holy Trinity coach Jim Muller. “She’s the team captain, she’s coming into her own.” … Port Richmond, the defending PSAL team champion, opened its season by taking fourth place. While the team graduated its top two runners from last year, Nynneya Columbus and Danielle Sorrentino, coach Marissa Oliveri is impressed with this group’s resolve: “This group still has the same energy and the same gel.” Junior Jaclyn Panepinto (ninth in 16:14.2) leads the Lady Raiders.