39th Annual Manhattan Invitational Girls Eastern States Championship Race Preview

All this week, MileSplit NY will be running previews for one of the biggest meets in Manhattan, outside the marathon.  All opinions presented below are those of Perry King, creator of http://section1-nys-running.com .  Stay tuned for more pre-meet coverage as well as extensive on-site coverage of The Manhattan College Invitational on Sunday, October 9th.



The 2011 Eastern States may have a tough time living up to last year’s race, but the crowds will be rocking and the Back Hills rolling again with or without this year's seismic tremor trends. Last year the show included the #1 runner and top team in the nation putting on dazzling performances to win the individual and team titles. Cornwall’s Aisling Cuffe has flown off to Stanford after posting the best time at the Manhattan Invite for the second straight year in 2010, but 5-time national champ Fayetteville-Manlius is back seeking its 5th straight Eastern States title with 5 runners who finished in the top 11 in the race last year. Though this year’s ES race may not have quite the firepower of last year’s match, it still has a sizzling slate of top teams putting on their Sunday best.

This year’s brag sheet for Eastern States includes the following good stuff:

·         The top ranked US team, 3 of the top 6, and 5 of the top 50, plus another (Note to XC rankers: Canandaigua is one of the top 25-30 teams in the US) that needs to get a lot more national love.

·         The top-rated team from 6 different states (NY, DE, PA, ME, RI, VT), three of the top 8 from NY, and 3 of the the top 4 Northeast schools and 4 of top 7.

·         3 of the top 25 ranked runners in the nation, and 10 of the top 12 runners in NY, a state with an unrivalled amount of speed.

·         8 of the top 10 finishers from last year’s fantastic race.

Some of last year’s top teams or long-time ES stalwarts switched their schedules to run at the Great American Race of Champions in NC last weekend and skipped Eastern States, but there is truly nothing like running the Manhattan in the Bronx at Van Cortlandt Park. If you can take the heat crackling out from the high-powered action, this is the race and the place to be. Starting time 2:46.


Recent History Snippets – A Half-Dozen Years of Fast and Faster

A hugely popular meet back in the 1920s and after, the current version of the Manhattan College Invitational meet kicked off in 1973. The girls started becoming a force after Stony Brook’s Laura Whitney started making waves around 1979, and the Manhattan Invitational has grown into one of the top 3 meets of the HS XC season prior to the nationals. One of 40 scheduled races goes off every 5 to 12 minutes like a well-oiled machine designed to keep feeding the screaming masses near the finish or on the Cemetary Hill overlook. The transformation has been especially huge for the girls, whose long-time featured Eastern States race has exploded from a big-status 10-team race just 6 years ago to a showdown of national powers with around 18-20 teams today.

The modern era kicked off in 2004 when the perennial girls national superpower Saratoga Springs won the Eastern States one last time and the Blue Streaks' top runner, Nicole Blood, broke the 14:00 barrier with a time around 13:57 or 13:58. In 2007 Carly Seymour of Central Cambria, PA lowered the mark to around 13:55. Last year’s race had a different setup than the ones run by Blood and Seymour, so determining course records is difficult, but Cornwall’s Aisling Cuffe ran a 13:58 time that equaled Blood’s 159 TR as the highest rating for the race as measured by the Tully Runner speed ratings.

The Manhattan is the best place to shake off the blues and get inspired by t-shirts preaching the glories of pain and sacrifice and the joys of big muddy hills and feeding dust to those less fortunate than yourself, or to consider such age-old cosmic questions as to how fast mascara can run, what are the social advantages of being a fast girl, or how golf courses can be used more intelligently. And whether it's Teenage Wasteland (Baba O’Riley), Running on Empty, or Love Shack blasting through Vanny, there’s always music helping you to get ready for those nasty Back Hills. Can’t be beat.



Top 5 teams: 1. Fayetteville-Manlius 32,  2. Tatnall 80,  3. Great Oak 90,  4. Midlothian 164,  5. Queensbury 197

Top 10 runners: 1. Aisling Cuffe, Cornwall 13:58.14; 2. Jillian Fanning, FM 14:16.08; 3. Haley Pierce, Tatnall 14:22.05; and 4. Katie Sischo, FM; 5. Brittany Winslow, Queensbury; 6. Sara Sargent, Pennsbury; 7. Christie Rutledge, FM;  8. Katie Brislin, FM; 9. Reagan Anderson, Tatnall; 10. Laura Leff, West Genesee

Also of note: Lizzie Predmore of Shenendehowa won Race B, and Rachel Paul of Sachem East won Race C.



Top 5 teams: 1. Fayetteville-Manlius 22,  2. Saratoga Springs 80,  3. Queensbury 111,  4. Tatnall 140,  5. Monroe-Woodbury 140

Winner: 1. Aisling Cuffe, Cornwall 14:03.28;

Also of note: NYS Class B champion Megan Young (9th grade) of Nanuet won the A race; Laura Leff (8th grade) of West Genesee won E race.



Top 5 teams: 1. Fayetteville-Manlius,  2. Tatnall,  3. Queensbury,  4. Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa,  5. Lincoln Sudbury

ES race Winner: Melanie Thompson, Voorhees 14:12.79

Top time: Emily Jones, Bromfield 14:12.62, in A race

Also: converted sophomore race-walker Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall won C race in 14:36.88



Top 5 teams: 1. Fayetteville-Manlius,  2. Saratoga Springs,  3. Hanover,  4, Voorhees,  5. Shenendehowa

Winner: Carly Seymour, Central Cambria, 13:55.27 (meet and course record)



Top 5 teams: 1. Midlothian,  2. Eleanor Roosevelt,  3. Saratoga Springs,  4. Hilton,  5. Tatnall. A very young FM finished 6th in a final quiet time before the tidal wave hit and took them to the national title in the NXN Nationals later that year.

Winner: Hannah Davidson, Saratoga Springs, 14:14.6



Top 5 teams: 1. Saratoga Springs,  2. Hilton (NXN 2005 National Champ),  3. Suffern,   4. Warwick Valley,  5, Eleanor Roosevelt. Perennial small-school power Bronxville finished 7th in 10-school race, with FM finishing 8th.

Winner: Aislinn Ryan, Warwick Valley 14:04.2. Ryan was the Footlocker National champ in 2004 and would take 3rd at the Nationals in 2005. Meet was held in monsoon conditions, making Ryan’s time all the more extraordinary.


Team Previews

18 teams are currently slated to run in the 2011 Eastern States, 11 from NY and 7 from other states. The TR speed ratings are approximate measures, especially for teams not from NY for whom the TRs are from last race in 2011 or projections from 2010.

Fayetteville-Manlius remains the overwhelming favorite to win another ES, as it has about a 10-point TR advantage over Tatnall, last year’s runner-up. North Shore will be looking for an impressive showing against Tatnall, which could help restore some luster in the national rankings for the preseason #2 team. Four of the NY teams won races at the V-V-S meet on Sept. 17, and three of them are expected to be among the main players for NY’s likely four spots at NXN Nationals. The four NE powers (NY is a separate regional classification from the Northeast) that include Pennsbury, Champlain Valley, La Salle, and Cheverus, are expected to battle for the NE region’s NXN spots in mid November. Among the big powers in the race are also a few plucky small schools like Friends Academy  and Seton Catholic – Plattsburgh that are taking a shot here to give the team’s frontrunner a chance to duel with the leaders.

Likely to be joining FM’s Jillian Fanning and Christy Rutledge at the head of the lead pack are West Genesee’s Laura Leff, Sachem East’s Rachel Paul, Tatnall’s Haley Pierce, North Shore’s Brianna Nerud and Samantha Nadel, Shenendehowa’s Lizzie Predmore, and Friends Academy’s Kelsey Margey, along with other FM runners such as Katie Sischo and Annika Avery.

The four national ranked teams according to Aron Taylor's XC-Nation list are: Fayetteville-Manlius (1), Tatnall (5), North Shore (7), Champlain Valley (22). Teams snapshot by key data:



Man Hat Place

National and Regional Rank

NYS Rank

2011 Trophies

2010 NXN Place

TR – Top 5

TR Avg


1st - ES

#1 US, #1 NY

#1 - A

 1st  in V-V-S – 1, 1st in NXN (2010)



Tatnall (DE)

2nd - ES

#5 US,


2nd in Great American RoC, 5th In NXN (2010)



North Shore


#7 US, #3 NY

#1 - B

1st  in V-V-S – 2, 9th in NXN (2010)





#3 NY

#3 - A

1st in V-V-S – 3 and McQuaid - AAA



Pennsbury (PA)

9th - ES



1st in Briarwood Champs and Paul Short - Brown



Sachem East

4th - C



2nd in V-V-S – 3



La Salle (RI)

2nd - B

#4 NE


10th in NE- NXN (2010)


107.4 (2010)


1st - B


#14 - A

1st in V-V-S - 6




5th - ES


#9 - B

3rd in V-V-S – 5 and Queensbury -1



Champlain Valley (VT)


#22 US


1st in Essex and Burlington meets, 21st in NXN (2010)



Cheverus (ME)




4th in NE-NXN (2010)



West Genesee

13th - ES



3rd in V-V-S – 2




3rd – E


#16 - A

4th in V-V-S – 3



St. Basil Academy (PA)




8th in Paul Short - Brown



Friends Academy




 Tops at Bruce MacDonald



Seton Catholic (Sect. 7)



#6 - D

9th in V-V-S – 7



Kent School (CT)





124- <60


Sanford Calhoun








Teams previewed by race position order.


Fayetteville-Manlius (NY)

Overview:  Top team in the nation for the 6th year running as it heads for a 5th straight Eastern States title. Super strong and very deep.

Roster:  Jillian Fanning (150), Christy Rutledge (144), Katie Sischo (137), Annika Avery (136), Katie Brislin (129), Jenna Farrell (128), Hannah Smith (126), Heather Martin (124)

Team Data: 139.2 TR. Last major race for varsity was a win in the V-V-S-1, where the Hornets scored a perfect 15 and took 16 of the top 19 places.

Comments: If FM’s second set of runners (slots 8 to 14) were entered as a B team in this high-powered field, they would be rated as the 7th strongest team. The FM veteran pack of Jillian Fanning, Christy Rutledge, Katie Sischo, Katie Brislin, and Heather Martin has been bolstered with the addition of freshman Annika Avery, 8th grader Jenna Farrell, and junior Hannah Smith, all with TRs between 124 and 150. Truly daunting.


Calhoun (NY)

Overview: This assignment in Eastern States seems a little out of place.

Roster:  NA

Team Data:NA

Comments: There are no results for Calhoun this year, and returning runners from last year have a TR of 27.4.


North Shore (NY)

Overview:  #6 US team, #3 in NY region, and #1 in NYS-B. 9th in 2010 NXN.

Roster:  Brianna Nerud (140), Samantha Nadal (140), Jessica Donohue (119), Elizabeth Caldwell (119), Monica Morra (95)

Team Data:122.6. Finished 1st in V-V-S-2 race by taking 2-3-4-5 places behind West Genesee's Laura Leff.

Comments: North Shore's top duo of Brianna Nerud and Samantha Nadel can run with the best, and their feats include Nerud's NY-record time 7th place at the World Youth Championships 2K steeplechase and Nadel's rousing victory in the 2011 Milrose Mile. Question is whether the team's 5th spot can climb high enough to top Tatnall in the ES and move the Vikings up among the top 5 teams in the nation.


West Genesee (NY)

Overview:  13th in 2010 ES race. Laura Leff goes for biggest win.

Roster:  Laura Leff (149), Lindsey Weaver (101), Kelly Powell (90), Abby Kastick (85),  Lauren Brieant (69)

Team Data: 98.8 TR. Finished 3rd behind North Shore in the V-V-S-2 race with Laura Leff in 1st.

Comments: The team is developing behind its frontrunner, but the Wildcats are in the Eastern States to see if Laura Leff can capture the individual title in a very tough crowd.


Tatnall  (DE)

Overview:  #5 US team, #1 SE region team, and #1 in Delaware. 2nd in 2010 ES race, and 5th in 2010 NXN. After FM, should be the best here.

Roster:  Haley Pierce (141), Reagan Anderson (134), Rebecca Salter (134), Julie Williams (122), Kieran Hanrahan (116)

Team Data:  129.4 TR. Finished 2nd in Great American Race of Champions by 8 points to Saratoga Springs despite Haley Pierce's 1st place and a better average time than the winners.

Comments: After a narrow loss to Saratoga Springs in last weekend's Great American Race of Champions, Tatnall has enough of the right stuff to challenge their namesake mascot rival FM again at Manhattan. Frontrunner Haley Pierce, who upset Aisling Cuffe in the Penn Relays 3K, leads a veteran Hornets team that also includes likely top-15 ES finishers Reagan Anderson and Rebecca Salter and should easily get its fifth top-5 finish in the last 6 years here. Pierce and Anderson finished 3rd and 8th here last year.


Pennsbury (PA)

Overview:  #40 US team, #2 in NE region, and #1 in PA.  9th in 2010 ES race. Looks pretty strong for a top-5 ES finish.

Roster: Ann Herman (128), Sara Sargent (127), Erin O'Connell (112), Elizabeth Wedekind (110), Erica Gray (104)

Team Data: 115.6 TR. Finished 1st in both the Briarwood Championship and then the Paul Short - Brown races.

Comments: PA's top team has a couple of big wins in major meets this year. The 6th place finisher in last year's ES, Sara Sargent, is back, and with sidekick Ann Herman hopes to lead the Falcons to their first top 5 finish here. 


Champlain Valley (VT)

Overview:  #38 US team, #3 in NE region, and #1 in VT. 21st in 2010 NXN.

Roster:  Taylor Spillane (127), Adrienne Devita (110), Autumn Eastman (105), Julienne Devita (100), Aleksey Jordick (92), Sophie Hess (90)

Team Data:  106.4 TR. Two wins over state rival Essex in the Essex and Burlington invitationals, the second by 1 point.

Comments: After the run to Nationals last year, the Redhawks look to be a contender again from the NE region with Taylor Spillane giving the team some oomph at top. As one of the five nationally ranked teams in the race, CV should finish high up.


Seton Catholic (NY) (Section 7)

Overview:  #6 NYS-D team. The classic little team with a big heart taking on the best teams in an NYC showdown.

Roster:  Margaret Champagne (103), Phoebe Christopher (79), Maddy Munn (63), Melissa Whyman (50), Dana Chapman

Team Data:  59.0 TR. Finished 9th in V-V-S-7.

Comments: The Knights are this year's little pluggers among the giants. Only 8th-grade frontrunner Margaret Champagne has a TR over 100, but with a family name that already has 5 state titles attached to it, Champagne will draw some attention wherever she runs.


Canandaigua (NY)

Overview:  #8 in NY region, 3rd in NYS-A. Unless I'm missing something, the Braves are one of the top couple of teams in NY and should be well up in the national rankings instead of being shut out. Should finish in top 5 at ES.

Roster:  Kennedy Jensen (131), Meghan McCormick (129), Kate McCormick (127), Lauren D'Amore (104), Kendall D'Amore (101)

Team Data:  118.8 TR. 1sts in V-V-S-3 and McQuaid-AAA races

Comments:  Granted that NYS-A is a bit crowded at the very top, but I just don't get how a team like Canandaigua appears to be almost invisible on the national scene. Maybe the rankers don't like teams with two sets of sisters? After two major wins including last weekend's victory over #7-ranked NY region team Honeoye Falls-Lima, the Braves appear ready to make a statement at ES. With Kennedy Jensen, Meghan McCormick and Kate McCormick rated above 125 TR and the D'Amore sisters giving the team 5 runners speeding above the 100 mark, Canandaigua has to start getting some love in the national rankings.


Cheverus (ME)

Overview:  #7 in NE region, #1 in ME. The Stags are one of the top teams in New England and should finish in the middle of the ES pack.

Roster:  Emily Durgin (133), Shannon Conley (114), Fiona Hendry (98), Kiera Murray (86), Maddie Woods (65)

Team Data:  99.2 TR.  Wins a lot of dual meets, but no major meets yet.

Comments: Emily Durgin is one of the top two runners in Maine, and the Stags should have a solid showing at ES for a team that won last year's Class A state championship and finished 4th in New England.


Friends Academy (NY)

Overview:  The Quakers are an unranked NYS-C team that finished 8th at States last year and is now led by Harborfields transfer Kelsey Margey.

Roster:  Kelsey Margey (138), Molly Sullivan (94), Katrina Garry (93), Katie Pappas (55), Domenica Lostritto (54)

Team Data:86.8 TR. Had top showing at the apparently unscored Bruce McDonald meet..

Comments: I hate to say it knowing who's holding onto the #20 spot in the NYS-C rankings, but unranked Friends Academy should be up among the top 8 teams in the state C rankings. Kelsey Margey is one of the top runners in the state, and Molly Sullivan and Katrina Garry provide solid backup. Cat should be out of the bag with a good performance among the big girls in ES.


Sachem East (NY)

Overview:  The Flaming Arrows are another one of those largely unrecognized teams looking to blaze a name for themselves at ES.

Roster:Rachel Paul (144), Shannon O'Hehir (106), Melanie Notarstefano (106), Danielle Vasquez (103), Kaitlin DiMartino (82)

Team Data:108.2 TR. Finished 2nd in the V-V-S-3 race with Rachel Paul taking 1st.

Comments:  Sachem East has not been able to break into the state rankings despite a decent TR and a solid performance at V-V-S. Look for Rachel Paul to run near the top and help her team send a message.


Queensbury (NY)

Overview:  #9 team in NYS-B. 5th in 2010 ES without one of it's two senior frontrunner sisters, Danielle Winslow. The Eastern States wouldn't be the Eastern States without Queensbury, who have finished in the top 5 there the last three years. A 4th straight top-5 will be tough, but the Spartans have a chance to return with their shields held high.

Roster: Jolie Navatka (125), Sherri Metcalf (107), Tyra Wynn (105), Keara Byrne (100), Taylor Mueller (95)

Team Data: 106.4 TR. Finished 3rd in last two races, the V-V-S-3 and Queensbury-1.

Comments: The Spartans are one of the quintessential XC teams that march off to battle anybody or host any takers at their own meet. In a bit of a rebuilding year in the post-Winslow era, Jolie Navatka has gone to new levels and the team is developing the strength to be competitive at a pretty high level.


Kent Academy (CT)

Overview:  NE prep school that has the top CT and national independent schools runner Nicole Marvin as main presence.

Roster:  Nicole Marvin (120-124 TR range).

Team Data:NA.

Comments: Kent is basically Nicole Marvin, a runner that a few Section 1 Class C coaches are probably happy is not running for her hometown Pawling team. Marvin won the American Independent Schools Championship on Sunday by 48 seconds on same course in Cary, NC that hosted the Great American Race of Champions on Saturday.


La Salle (RI)

Overview:  #4 team in NE region, #1 in RI. Runnerup in Manhattan B race last year. The Rams have good depth and a bit of experience at Manhattan to make a run at a top-5 ES place, and I guess they will be very fresh.

Roster:  Emily Papazian (115), Caroline Falvey (109), Caitlin Marino (109), Tiana Kibbe (102), Evie Jansen (102)

Team Data:  107.4 TR -based on 2010 data. No results yet.

Comments: Opening the season at Eastern States is almost like FM last year. How well the Rams will do in a season's inauguration setting is hard to say.


Shenendehowa (NY)

Overview:  #14 team in NYS-A. 1st in Manhattan-B race in 2010. Shen should place in top 10 at ES, with Lizzie Predmore making a run toward the top.

Roster:  Lizzie Predmore (137), Bailey Kowalczyk (111), Caroline Hampton (104), Kristen Jordan (92), Rachel Shine (90)

Team Data: 106.8 TR. Won V-V-S-6 race with Lizzie Predmore taking 1st.

Comments: Shen should finish in the 7-10 range with Lizzie Predmore in the top 10 of the runners.


Liverpool (NY)

Overview:  #16 team in NYS-A. No elite runners but the Warriors have enough mid-level depth to earn a top-15 place.

Roster:  Caroline Diffender (101), Jessica Turner (100), Kaitlyn McNamara (99), Abbie McNamara (95), Morgan Mahoney (91)

Team Data: 97.2 TR. finished 4th in V-V-S-3.

Comments: Liverpool is likely the most pack-based team in race, and it is starting to move up in the state rankings.


St. Basil Academy (PA)

Overview:  Among the top 20 teams in PA in Milesplit rankings. Small private school experiences Manhattan in the best way.

Roster:  Megan McGaritty (115), Stephanie Welte (100), Corinne Manela (93), Valerie Santangelo (84), Casey Uhrich (78)

Team Data: 94.0 TR.  Finished 8th in Paul Short - Brown race

Comments: Last year three of the Catholics joined the fun in the Eastern States and filled out the last three spots in the results. But St. Basil is among the top 10th of PA teams, and it should represent itself pretty well with Megan McGaritty leading the team.