2011 saw some of the best performances from the girls out of New York State in recent memory. For much of the season, New York held the top 3 spots amongst the girls national rankings. Several runners went through their entire regular season undefeated. And, as usual, New York has found girls who finished well at both National Championships, Foot Locker and Nike. Below you will find our All-Stars by grade. We decided to determine status by grade as to give the reader a better sense of the depth of talent coming back to us next year. Finally, you will find the 2011 Dream Team, which compiles the best, most well-rounded team possible New York has to offer. You can look for our boys article on Sunday, as well as our overall team awards later in the week. Please note, all decisions represented below are based on the opinions of the State Webmaster, Kyle Brazeil. They reflect considerations from early season, championship season, and post season performances. If you feel somebody key was missed, feel free to sound off in our message boards.
1 – Samantha Nadel – North Shore - This Long Island senior has had a remarkable career even before entering her senior year of Cross Country. Coming off an overall win at the Millrose Mile last January, Sam Nadel was a force to be reckoned with. She took the pack out strong at NXN in Portland just a week ago, finished with the 2nd fastest time at the States Championship, and 2nd again at the Nike Cross Regionals NY. Consistently posting fast times on tough courses, Nadel led a very strong contingent that would go on to achieve 9th at NXN.
2 – Brianna Nerud - North Shore - The second half of the North Shore 1-2 punch, Nerud is an excellent runner in her own right. Never overshadowed, nor far behind in race positions, by her teammate Samantha Nadel, Nerud was known as the second half to the best top 2 in New York this year. Her 8th fastest finish at States, coupled with the 4th place at NXR-NY, and 17th overall at NXN prove that North Shore has some big points coming their way once their Indoor Track season begins.
3 – Alexis Panisse – Benjamin Cardozo – Running out of New York City, Alexis Panisse has been slightly removed from the stiff competition that the public school girls face every weekend. Despite this, Panisse has impressed in her own right, as she now holds the 3rd fastest time of any PSAL runner at PSAL mainstay, Van Cortlandt Park. Her 3rd place finish at the Brown Invitational, along with a 3rd place finish at the Paul Short Run in PA, reinforces the idea that this is the fastest girl the PSAL has seen in years. This notion was affirmed when Panisse became the first runner from the PSAL in 30 years to qualify for the Foot Locker National Championships, where she placed 30th in 18:20. Her 10:05 time for the 3k looks to go down as this city senior looks to be in good form for Indoor season.
4 – Katie Sischo – Fayetteville-Manlius—The only legitimate threat to North Shore’s 1-2, Sischo rounds out the top end of Fayetteville-Manlius’ US #1 squad. FM’s only senior after losing Christie Rutelidge to a mid-season injury, Sischo responded well with a 21st overall finish at NXN, a 5th place finish in the New York State Championship merge, and an impressive 6th place finish at the Eastern States race in the Manhattan Invitational. Committing to Providence for next fall, Sischo’s high school story is far from over, as she was a key member of the 4x800 last year, and looks to return in top form.
5 – Rachel Paul – Sachem East – Paul was no stranger to success this season. While North Shore was dominating on the east end of Long Island, Rachel Paul was doing the same on the Island’s western end. Paul came in first for both her Section 11 Divisional and Sectional Championships by more than a healthy margin. She also finished well in the Eastern Championship of the Manhattan Invitational, placing 7th. Equally impressive, her second place finish at a fast Brown course in 17:39 proves to be her fastest time all season. Paul’s post season efforts proved fruitful, as she placed 5th at the NXR-NY, and placing 26th overall at NXN with a time of 18:31.
Honarable Mentions -
Alt. – Kelsey Margey – Friends Academy
Alt. – Lauren Mullins – Johnson City
1 – Jillian Fanning – Fayetteville-Manlius – Fanning proved to be near unstoppable in her junior effort at cross country. Simply put, the only time she saw the back of a runner as she approached a finish line was at Nike Cross Nationals, with one of the best fields ever assembled for the event. Her accolades speak for themselves: 1st at the Eastern Championship at the Manhattan Invite, 1st in the States merge, and 1st in the Nike Cross Regional – New York qualifier. And not only was she first in all these races, she also managed to finish ahead of the 2nd place finisher for each race by an average of 30 seconds. A converted soccer player for FM, Fanning looks to only improve as she enters the Indoor Track season.
2 – Hannah Smith – Fayetteville-Manlius – Proof to the depth of FM’s girls team, Smith, their 3rd girl, never placed outside of the top 10 when it counted, taking 6th at the Section 3 champs, 9th in the States merge, and a 7th place finish at the Nike Cross Regionals –New York division. With a PR of 18:50 in the 5000m, Smith looks to continue to progress as she enters Indoor season.
3 -- Taylor Driscoll – Saratoga Springs – Taylor Driscoll, US #2 Saratoga Springs’ top runner, has had a great season that has included several out-of-state races. She placed first at the Section 2 Championships, after suffering a defeat the week prior to senior Lizzie Predmore of Shenendehowa. Driscoll’s 11th place finish in a tough field at the Great American Cross Country Festival in North Carolina is another key highlight of Driscoll’s junior season. Championship season for Driscoll also proved fruitful, as she finished 8th at Feds and 10th at the Nike Cross Regional – New York Division.
4 – Jessica Donohue – North Shore—North Shore’s top national rankings throughout the season wouldn’t be possible without the stalwart Jessica Donohue supplementing the low scores of Nerud and Nadel. On almost any other team, Donohue would be the frontrunner, with her 8th place finish at the Nike Cross Regional – New York division and her 12th place finish in the States’ merge. Despite being only 3rd fastest on her team, Donahue is primed and ready to inherit a strong legacy next year. Her performances speak for themselves, and with a 10:17 pr in the 3000m, Donohue is far from forgotten.
5 – Holly Cavalluzzo – Valley Central – Cavalluzzo had a strong sophomore season, as she went 7-0 in her early season record. This year, Cavalluzzo returned strong, as she found herself up against a sophomore with a similar record out of Newburgh. Cavalluzzo competed strongly, finishing first at the OCIAA Divisionals, 9th at the Nike Cross Regionals – New York division, and 11th in the States’ Merge. Her strong finish at NXR-NY was good enough to nab her a spot at Nike Cross Nationals, where Cavalluzzo would go on to finish 47th in 18:42.
Honarable Mention -
Alt - Keelin Hollowood -- Saratoga Springs
Alt - Vicky Houser -- Greenwich
1 – Mary Cain – Bronxville – A breakout cross country season for the sophomore from Section 1. Her freshmen effort in XC went largely unnoticed, but she began to start turning heads as she put her feet on a track. At the end of spring last year, Cain was competing at the USA Junior Championships, where she took silver in the 1500m with a time of 4:23.59, adding to her already impressive 2:03 800m split from earlier in the season. Coming into cross country for her sophomore year, Cain was no longer flying under the radar. Those expectations were exceeded early, as Cain captured the Randolph course record in early season competition. She would continue to race well, as she ran the 4th fastest time at the Manhattan Invitation, despite bowing out of the Eastern Championship to run the Varsity F race. Her winning ways continued as she placed 1st at the Section 1 Championships, 1st at Feds, and 1st at the Section 1 coaches meet, where her time of 17:40 stands as the 3rd fastest all-time at Bowdoin Park. Her success followed her into post-season, with the 3rd fastest time at States, and a 6th place finish overall at Nike Cross Nationals.
2 – Laura Leff – West Genesee – The depth of talent is apparent when the 3rd place finisher at the Foot Locker National Championship is only the 2nd fastest sophomore in her home state of New York. Likewise, just because Leff doesn’t possess as many gold medals as some other competitors, it is in no way indicative of this sophomore star’s talent. While Leff may find herself as top dog in the majority of other states around the country, she finds herself consistently running against US #1 Fayetteville-Manlius in regular season meets, as they both reside in Section 3. This results in Leff having excellent competition every weekend, allowing for a race sharpness that is hard to find anywhere else. Leff’s sophomore career is highlighted by a 2nd place finish at Feds, a 4th place finish in the States’ merge, and a 2nd place finish at the Section 3 championship, where she was able to break up the FM stranglehold as she stuck with Jillian Fanning for most of the race. With 3 seasons left of both Indoor and Outdoor track in front of her, Leff is most definitely a name you will be seeing for a long time coming.
3 – Gianna Frontera – Newburgh Free Academy – Frontera, out of Section 9, had a breakout year in 2011 cross country. Her in-season record remains impressive, as she finished with a record of 13-1, losing out only to Valley Central junior, Holly Cavalluzzo. With a low key performance as a freshman, Frontera’s new found success came from a strong summer regime of training. Frontera did well post-season, with a 7th place finish in both the States’ merge, as well as Feds. A disappointing race at the Nike Cross Regionals – New York division may have prevented Frontera from attending NXN, but she went on to come in 2nd at the USATF Junior Olympic Cross Country Championship in South Carolina. Where her new found speed will lead her to on the track is yet to be seen, but there is little doubt that she will be a strong competitor.
4 – Katie Lembo – Penfield – Out of Section 5, Lembo was able to capture numerous titles with her strong performances. Lembo consistently traded off top finishes with teammate Leila Mantilla, as Lembo finished 1st at the Clarence Fall Classic, and 2nd at both the Monroe County Champs and the Section 5 Championship meet. She would go on to finish 19th in the States’ merge, 15th at Feds, and 16th at the Foot Locker North East Regional Qualifier. Her pr of 18:05 in the 5000m is a strong indicator of what Lembo can do on the track when Indoor season comes.
5 – Kennedy Jensen – Canandaigua – The other strong team out of Section 5, Canandaigua had sophomore Kennedy Jensen out there finishing strong. Jensen’s 4th place finish at a cold McQuaid Invitational demonstrated her strength, and was reinforced by a 7th place finish at the Monroe County Meet and a 3rd place finish at the Section 5 Championship. Trailing slightly behind with the 30th fastest time at States in the merge, Jensen would recover quickly to place 12th at the Nike Cross Regional – New York division, good enough to qualify for NXN. Jensen then went on to place 56th in a field of 200 in Portland.
Honorable Mention -
Alt - Tiana Guevera -- Miller Place
Alt - Leah Triller -- Academy of the Holy Names
1 – Annika Avery – 9th— Fayetteville-Manlius – FM’s excellence is evident in Avery, as only a freshmen, she currently stands as one of the top 15 female runners in the state. Despite her age, she is a strong contributor to FM’s efforts, with an 8th place finish at both the Eastern’s Championship in the Manhattan Invitational as well as the Section 3 Championships. She moved up the ranks even more, with the 6th fastest time of the day at the States competition. She would then go on to place 81st at Nike Cross Nationals, beating out almost one hundred other competitors with numerous seasons under their belt.
2 – Estela Smith – 9th—Saratoga Springs – Saratoga’s second fastest girl comes from freshmen Estela Smith. Her current career includes a 6th place finish at the Great American Cross Country Festival, a 9th place finish at Feds, and the 14th fastest time in the States’ merge. Coming from a team who graduates none, we can expect to see Smith’s name consistently over the next three years.
3 – Jenna Farrell – 8th – Fayetteville-Manlius – The state’s fastest middle schooler, Farrell is already competing on a national stage alongside her teammates. Her season began with a dominating first place finish in the JV division at the Manhattan Invitational. Farrell would then go on to place 4th at the Section 3 Champs, and 18th in the States’ merge. Her track season looks to be just as good, as she ran an 11:07 in the 3000m as a 7th grader.
4 – Stephanie Gerland –8th— Garden City – No conversation about strong 8th grade talent would be complete without mentioning Stephanie Gerland out of Section 8. While they have North Shore to deal with locally, Gerland managed to take a resounding first place in the Varsity 1 race at the Section 1 Coaches meet at Bowdoin Park. She also ran to a 5th place finish at the Section 8 Championships, the first finisher behind the four-strong North Shore squad. Her season finished with a 21st place finish at Feds.
5 – Maryanna Lansing – 8th – Shaker – Maryanna Lansing out of Section 2 is another 8th grade star. Although Shaker is better known for their boys squad, Lansing was able to put in strong finishes all season, highlighted by a 2nd place finish at the Burnt Hills Invitational and a 5th place finish at the Section 2 Championship. With four years left to progress, Lansing looks to continue to produce great results.
Honorable Mention -
Alt - Olivia Morrow -- Saratoga Springs
Alt - Kate Zendell -- Suffern
2011 MileSplit NY Dream Team
1 – Jillian Fanning
2 – Mary Cain
3 – Samantha Nadel
4 – Laura Leff
5 – Brianna Nerud
Alt - Annika Avery
Alt - Gianna Frontera
Any coach’s dream team, the lineup provides a great mix of experience and youth, allowing for a strong team that can survive graduation. Selections were made to guarantee the team would excel for years to come, as young talent is included as well. A wealth of All-Americans, several strong underclassman, and numerous course records between the group, it is hard to argue New York’s dominance over high school cross country.