Manhattan College Invitational: F.M. storms iconic course


The Bronx, N.Y.- Fayetteville-Manlius, the No. 1 team in America, placed four runners in the top 12 to win its fifth straight Eastern States title at the Manhattan College Invitational in Van Cortlandt Park Sunday.

Jillian Fanning paced the effort with a 14:03.8 win, followed by Katie Sischo in sixth, Annika Avery in eighth, and Heather Martin, 12th.

“It’s a good start,” said Fanning, who finished second last year to Aisling Cuffe. “We have a lot more improvement to do. Overall, it was a good day.”

In a bustling, 15-team field that included Eastern titans Tatnall of Delaware (second, 83 points) and North Shore (third, 105 points), runners had to contend with draining 80-degree heat and dust kicking up on the trails.

“I just think the heat played a toll on a lot of kids from various teams,” said North Shore coach Neal Levy.

Fanning took the lead early, and was pursued by a pack of runners that included North Shore’s Brianna Nerud, who placed second in 14:22.6.

“I felt like the pack was pretty much following her,” said Nerud. “When we got into the backhills, she opened up a gap.”

F.M.’s presence was strong as runners crowded the bright straightaway.

Once again, Bill Aris’s club had found a way to get it done at one of cross-country’s most prestigious venues.

“To see (Fanning) coming down the straightaway alone, with perfect mechanics..” said Canandaigua (N.Y.) coach Matt Ward, whose team placed sixth. “It’s great to be a part of, as a fan of the sport.”

Notes:  North Shore, competing at the meet for the first time in three years, showed itself to be in strong mid-season form. According to Nerud: ”We wanted to get our feet wet in a competitive atmosphere. (And) kind of see how we measure up against the best in the country.” … Sophomore Kennedy Jensen led Canandaigua with a 20th place finish in 15:24.5. Ward said: “We figured there was nothing to lose. If we don’t run well, it’s still a good experience. If we run well here, it’s a great confidence-builder.