40th Annual Manhattan Invitational Girls Eastern States Championship Race Preview
|Saturday, October 13, 2012 --- Van Cortlandt Park --- 2:46 PM|
The 2012 Eastern States is about to strike again and once more it will impact with a cataclysmic power that sends everybody running for the hills -- the Van Cortlandt Back Hills, of course. The 5-time repeat winner Fayetteville-Manlius Hornets and reigning ES champ Jillian Fanning are emerging from the hive's dormant phase (champion workouts, eat, sleep, repeat -- plus all the school and socializing stuff) and buzzing down from the Syracuse area to once again dive bomb Manhattan. Lining up to battle FM's Hornets are a legion of powerful teams from around the country, including a second group of angry Hornets from Tatnall (DE), the fearless Falcons from Pennsbury (PA), the courageous Cougars from Oakton (VA), the redoubtable Redhawks from Champlain Valley (VT), the intrepid Trojans and ex-champs from Midlothian (VA), the raging Rams from La Salle (RI), and perhaps most frighteningly of all, the mysteriously unnamed ones from the Academy of the Holy Names (NY). Pull in a host of other state powerhouses from as far away as the Laguna Hills of CA, and you know that this is not just a race, it's the End of Stopwatch Time, Run'em Ragnarok, and an Armageddon and a Legageddon all rolled into one.
But yeah, amidst all the supersized hoopla, there is an Eastern States race at the 40th Manhattan Invitational in the Bronx that offers up the usual tantalizing tick sheet of great stats.
4 of the top 15 teams in the US, 2 others that are least in the top 70, and yet a few more that will likely make their existence known to the national ranking experts with their races at Eastern States.
6 states will have either or both of their top two ranked teams running in the Eastern States, including NH, NY, PA, RI, VA and VT.
Reigning Eastern States champ and #5 ranked US runner Jillian Fanning of Fayetteville-Manlius returns to lead a stellar field that includes 125+ TR runners such as Elk County Catholic's Kennedy Weisner, Champlain Valley's Taylor Spillane, Oakton's Allie Klimkiewicz, Tatnall's Reagan Anderson, Valley Central's Holly Cavalluzzo, Holy Names' Catherine Maloy and Leah Triller, Pennsbury's Samantha Sauer, and potentially any of Fanning's FM teammates such as Hannah Smith, Annika Avery, Katie Brislin, Alana Pearl, Jenna Farrell and others.
At least 16 of last year's Eastern States top 50 finishers, including Jillian Fanning (1), Annika Avery (8), Taylor Spillane (11), Sara Sargent (13) of Pennsbury, Reagan Anderson (14), Rebecca Salter (15) of Tatnall, Hannah Smith (18), Alana Pearl (22), Katie Brislin (24), and Julie Williams (25) of Tatnall, who all were top 25 finishers.
There is no place like the Manhattan Invitational to sink so blissfully into the crazed atmosphere of HS XC at its most extreme. The crowds at VCP will be doing their best to deprive you of your last bit of auditory perception, the t-shirts will be evangelizing for the joys of feeling sheer agony and dining on large topographical entities, and a lot of runners will be finding something buried deep inside them that they never knew existed as they strain toward the Tortoise and Hare region of the park. Can't be beat.
Times could be very fast with weather conditions expected at this point to be near ideal. The electricity at Van Cortlandt Park surrounding both the girls and boys action will be enough to power the following playoff game at Yankee Stadium 5 miles to the south if any weekday rainouts push a potential 5th game with the Orioles back a day. Perhaps the only thing that can stop FM is the finish line, but a couple of the nation's best and battle-tested teams will be giving it a big try.
Fast History of Fast
During the four decades since the second coming of the Manhattan College Invitational, the meet has steadily grown to almost stupendous proportions. A hugely popular meet back in the 1920s (but without girls), the current version of the meet kicked off in 1973 and by the end of the decade the girls had started to become a force on the heels of the exploits of runners like Stony Brook's Laura Whitney. The meet has steadily added races and become one of the top three invitationals in the country. One of the 40 scheduled races gets the gun every 5 to 12 minutes to keep the hordes of runners flowing through to the screaming masses perched on the Cemetery Hill overlook or forming a deafening gauntlet at the finish. The transformation has been especially huge for the girls, whose long-time featured Eastern States race has exploded from a high-status 10 team race just 7 years ago to a showdown of national powers with 18-20 teams slated to toe the mark nowadays.
The modern era kicked off in 2004 when the perennial girls national superpower Saratoga Springs won the Eastern States for the next to last time and the Blue Streaks' Nicole Blood broke the 14:00 minute barrier. The course has had many different variations over the last decade, so citing a record time is problematic, but in 2007 Carly Seymour of Central Cambria ran a 13:55 to set the lowest official time. Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall was a two-time winner of the ES, and in 2010 she ran a 13:58 and matched Blood's TR of 159 for the top rated score there.
The Eastern States is rightly considered to have the kiss of gold for those with national championship aspirations. The team that has won the ES has gone on to take the national crown at NXN in 6 of the last 8 years, and the only exceptions were in 2005 when Saratoga came in 2nd at NXN to state rival Hilton and in 2006 when Fayetteville-Manlius won its first national title after finishing 6th at ES. Likewise, the individual winners have done well in the nationals, and Cornwall's Aisling Cuffe ran to the Footlocker title after winning the ES in 2010, and Warwick Valley's Aislinn Ryan won the FLN in 2004 and followed it with an ES victory in a downpour in 2005.
Last year the order for the top 5 teams was: 1. Fayetteville-Manlius, 2. Tatnall, 3. North Shore, 4. Pennsbury, 5. Champlain Valley. FM's Jillian Fanning was 1st, followed by North Shore's Brianna Nerud, Tatnall's Haley Pierce, Friends Academy's Kelsey Margey, and Shenendehowa's Lizzie Predmore. All of the five except Fanning were seniors.
Preview of Eastern States Teams
The 19 teams set for the Eastern States race include 6 returnees from last year's barnburner and 12 squads from outside of NY. The two teams who have won the last 6 ES races will be at the line along with a team that has finished 2nd in three of the last four years. The TR scores used to evaluate the teams are generated by Bill Meylan of Tully Runners to provide an estimated speed rating for a runner by factoring all race conditions through comparative ratings against other runners at a meet. TRs are the foundation of NY ranking systems and are becoming more widely used throughout the country to help provide more accurate analyses of XC team strengths.
Unseen but always at the forefront of the 2012 XC coverage, Fayetteville-Manlius is once again expected to cruise to victory in a similar fashion as in last year's 38-point decision over its fellow Hornets from Tatnall. Although the FM Hornets lost a championship's worth of talent to graduation last year, they have so much in reserve with NY's top runner Jillian Fanning and a squad that could include national championship veterans Hannah Smith, Annika Avery, Alana Pearl, Katie Brislin, and Jenna Farrell that their route to a 7th straight national title appears pretty solidly laid out even if some random gullywashers provide some bumps on the trail. The ES is where the 2012 journey all begins.
The expected battle for second is mainly focused on the three other highly nationally ranked teams in the ES field, Holy Names, Pennsbury, and Tatnall. Holy Names and Pennsbury both have very similar team makeups for the first five runners with the NY school looking a little stronger in the middle, and it really comes down to which team navigates the Back Hills best and pushes themselves to the line a little more productively in what should be a tight decision. Catherine Maloy, Leah Triller, Kaylee Scott, and Lydia Williams are all above the 120 mark for Holy Names, and Estela Smith has an almost unlimited ceiling when in full form. Pennsbury's Madeline Sauer and Sara Sargent hope to pull their team up past Holy Names. Tatnall still has some issues with depth at the back, but their top trio of Reagan Anderson, Rebecca Salter, and Julie Williams has the potential to finish ahead of all Holy Names and Pennsbury runners. The Hornets may not be quite strong enough at this point to get up for 2nd once again.
Champlain Valley and Oakton are two other teams that could do some excessive trail burning at ES, though they are more unbalanced than Holy Names, Pennsbury, and Tatnall. Champlain Valley's top duo of Taylor Spillane and Autumn Eastman have the potential for top 5 finishes, and Oakton's Allie Klimkiewicz should also place near the top and possibly help earn her team a top 5 finish.
The battle for the individual crown could have a little more drama. FM's Jillian Fanning has the top TR based on last year's score and 4th place finish at NXN in 2011, but whether she will be close to that level in her first race remains to be seen. She may not have any breathing room in her debut run because Elk County Catholic's Kennedy Weisner has already motored to a 148 level, and Champlain Valley's Taylor Spillane is also up in the 140 territory. Unlike last year when Fanning hit the finish stretch with nearly a 20-second gap over North Shore's Brianna Nerud, this could be a duel to the end.
13 Seriously Speedy Girls
|Jillian Fanning||Fayetteville-Manlius||156 (LY)|
|Kennedy Weisner||Elk County Catholic||148|
|Taylor Spillane||Champlain Valley||141|
|Hannah Smith||Fayetteville-Manlius||137 (LY)|
|Autumn Eastman||Champlain Valley||135|
|Annika Avery||Fayetteville-Manlius||134 (LY)|
|Katie Brislin||Fayetteville-Manlius||134 (LY)|
|Alana Pearl||Fayetteville-Manlius||133 (LY)|
|Holly Cavalluzzo||Valley Central||133|
Team Snapshot Overview
The snapshot view gives the basic info about the 19-team field listed by general estimated TR averages. For the NY teams the TR score is fairly precise based on the 2012 action, except for FM for which the final 2011 score is used. For outside-of-NY teams the TR is the score for the team's last big meet and is thus less comprehensive than the NY teams' season-compiled scores and could miss runners who were not at the selected meet.
The rankings cited are mainly from Milesplit national or state listings but also include rankings from coaches' polls in states like PA and RI that do actually post weekly updates for teams that are linked to on the Milesplit sites. Rankings are from the last ones available at post time.
|Team||2011 Place at Meet||National and Regional Rank||2012 Action||TR Top 5||TR Avg.|
|Fayetteville-Manlius||1st in ES||US #1, NY #1||Debuts in ES||156-137-134-134-133||138.8|
|Holy Names||US #8, NY-B #1||1st at EJ Herrmann||127-126-124-123-112||122.4|
|Pennsbury||4th in ES||US #14, PA #2||2nd in PIAA-AAA, 1st in Carlisle Puma Challenge||126-123-119-116-112||119.2|
|Tatnall||2nd in ES||US #11, DE #1||1st in Salesianum-Small, 3rd in Great American-RoC||135-130-127-98-98||115.6|
|Champlain Valley||5th in ES||US HM, VT #1||2nd in Wood Trail Run, 1st in Manchester-Elite||141-135-115-85-83||113.8|
|Oakton||US HM, VA #1||1st in Salesianum-Champs, 6th in Great American-RoC||137-111-109-104-97||113.6|
|La Salle Academy||9th in ES||RI #2||10th in Great American-RoC, 1st in RI Injury Fund-3||119-106-103-102-99||105.8|
|Northport||4th in F||NY-A #9||2nd at Suffolk County, 1st in Bob Pratt-A||119-103-97-97-96||102.4|
|Valley Central||NY-A #10||2nd in Warwick-1, 1st in Suffern-A||113-113-92-91-78||101.4|
|Bishop Guertin||NH #2||4th in Ocean State-Champs, 3rd at Nashua||111-101-95-93-92||98.2|
|Londonderry||NH #1||3rd in Manchester-Elite, 1st at Nashua||103-100-100-95-80||97.6|
|North Kingstown||RI #4||7th in Ocean State-Champs, 1st in RI Injury Fund-4||121-100-82-79-76||93.6|
|Midlothian||VA #6 (Milesplit)||5th in Great American-Seeded, 12th in Adidas XC Challenge-Champs||115-99-98-80-63||91.0|
|Elk County Catholic||10th in McQuaid-A, 3rd at Ridgeway||148-113-76-65-43||89.0|
|Laguna Hills||CA South Sect.-D3 #9||Ran at Sunny Hills Wayne Walker Invite||114-101-98-65-63||88.2|
|Westhill||NY-B #23||4th in NJ Shore Coaches-Champs, 2nd in Vernon-Verona-Sherril-3||104-101-87-70-68||85.0|
|Friends Academy||14th in ES||NY-C #12||4th in Ocean State-1, 2nd at Bruce McDonald||92-87-75-69-63||76.6|
|Benjamin Cardozo||8th in Mayor's Cup||121-119-46-38-37||72.2|
|Walt Whitman||12th in Marymount Invite, 27th in Oatlands-A||76-51-44-44-38||50.6|
Team Profiles - by Order in Race
Bishop Guertin (NH)
Overview: The Cardinals are ranked #2 in NH and last year finished 3rd in the NH state championship and 4th in NE.
Roster: Sarah Burke (116), Shauna Salem (101), Sarah Murphy (95), Gabby Richardson (92), Molly McCabe (92), Heidi Ntengeri (92)
Team Data: 98.2 TR. Placed 3rd at the Nashua Invite and 4th in the Ocean State Championship race.
Comments: Bishop Guertin is one of five NE teams to make the trip down to run at Eastern States, and the Cardinals will be going at it with state rival Londonderry to break into the top 10. Lead runner Sarah Burke should place among the top 30.
Laguna Hills (CA)
Overview: The Hawks are ranked 9th in CA Southern Section's D3 Class. First CA team to travel east to Eastern States since Great Oak in 2010.
Roster: Alana Jones (114), Marissa Bartello (101), Brianna Bartello (98), Haley Aufill (65), Allie Bugeyong (63)
Team Data: 88.2 TR. Ran at Sunny Hills Wayne Walker Invite.
Comments: All data shown here for Laguna Hills is highly jerry-rigged since this CA ranked team does not appear to have run in an team competition meets that I can find, but lead runner Alana Jones ran well her last race last year and could have a strong race here.
Overview: The Trojans are the last team to win the Eastern States race before Fayetteville-Manlius started its streak, and team is listed 6th in Milesplit's rankings of teams in VA.
Roster: Tessa Riley (115), Kali Striker (99), Madison Carpenter (98), Brittany Whitt (80), Megan Curbelo (63)
Team Data: 91.0 TR. 5th in the Great American-Seeded race.
Comments: Midlothian is back after a one-year absence to run at the place where it scored one of the most shocking upsets in recent XC annals in 2006. Two years ago the Trojans finished 4th, but this time a finish in the top 12 would be a good result. Tessa Riley could break into the top 30.
Overview: Ranked #1 in US, the Hornets have won the last 5 ES races and the last 6 national titles.
Roster: Jillian Fanning (156), Hannah Smith (137), Annika Avery (134), Katie Brislin (134), Alana Pearl (133), Jenna Farrell (132), Mary Barger (114), Maggie Malone (114), Michelle Duffy (111), Jessica Howe (101). All TRs from last year.
Team Data: 138.4 TR. The Eastern States is the first race for the team.
Comments: Usually you would call a top team that shows up for its first race in mid October the Great Unknown, but FM is such a known quantity at this point that the only big question really is the names of the Hornets' top 7 who will be toeing the line for the Eastern States. Big expectations here, but as always the Hornets are just kicking off a season that will possibly end 7 weeks later on December 1 at Portland Meadows. A potential battle between Jillian Fanning and Elk County's Kennedy Weisner does provide a bit of drama for FM.
Elk County Catholic (PA)
Overview: The Crusaders are unranked but have a very noticeable runner up front.
Roster: Kennedy Weisner (148), Tori Dippold (113), Cassie Thompson (76), Nickie Florio (65), Ellie Pearson (43)
Team Data: 89.0 TR. Finished 10th in McQuaid-A race and 3rd at Ridgeway.
Comments: Being lined up between Fayetteville-Manlius and Tatnall sounds like a hazing ceremony sprung on a poor newbie by the Manhattan selection committee at Eastern States, but the Crusaders have a fair bit of punch with lead runner and McQuaid meet sensation Kennedy Weisner looming as a threat to FM's Jillian Fanning for the individual title and Tori Dippold looking for a place in the top 30.
Overview: The Hornets finished 2nd at ES for the third time in four years in 2011, and this year they are ranked 11th in the US and are #1 in DE. Last year they were 3rd at NXN Nationals behind FM and Saratoga, and graduated runner Haley Pierce was 2nd.
Roster: Reagan Anderson (135), Rebecca Salter (130), Julie Williams (127), Caroline Foley (98) Quinn Teklits (88)
Team Data: 115.6 TR. Placed 3rd at the Great American Race of Champions and then was 1st with a partial squad in the Salesianum Small race.
Comments: Tatnall has been fighting to rebuild the depth it needs to get back up among the top 5 teams in the nation, and its performance at the Great American RoC behind Assumption and Saratoga shows promise. Reagan Anderson and Rebecca Salter finished 14th and 15th at ES last year as senior Haley Pierce was 3rd, and this year the duo along with Julie Williams look to finish high enough to push the Hornets into the top 5.
Overview: The Cougars have earned the Honarable Mention accolade in the US rankings and are the #1 team in VA.
Roster: Allie Klimkiewicz (137), Hailey Daugherty (111), Kara Kendall (109), Kristi Carrigan (104), Maryn McCarty (97), Grace Stewart (93)
Team Data: 113.6 TR. 6th in the Great American Race of Champions and 1st in the Salesianum Championship race.
Comments: Oakton's Allie Klimkiewicz is one of the top runners at ES this year, and the Cougars should be strongly in the battle for a top 5 spot.
Walt Whitman (MD)
Overview: The Vikings are unranked.
Roster: Caroline Elmendorf (76), Nicole Ihrie (51), Elyssa Feuer (44), Elizabeth Zeichner (44), Erin O'Connor (38)
Team Data: 50.6 TR. Finished 27th in the Oatlands A race and then 12th at the Maymount XC Festival.
Comments: If you're going to make the long trip from Bethesda, you gotta experience the Eastern States race.
Academy of the Holy Names (NY)
Overview: The team without a mascot but many names has built itself into a small but huge powerhouse that has seemingly displaced sectional rival Saratoga Springs from the number 2 position in NY based on its better balance. The team is ranked 8th in the US and is the top team in NY's B class. Last year they won Manhattan's A race.
Roster: Catherine Maloy (127), Leah Triller (126), Kaylee Scott (124), Lydia Williams (123), Estela Smith (112), Jackie Willsey (91)
Team Data: 122.4. Won the EJ Herrmann race.
Comments: Holy Names has already risen with dizzying speed to a place among the top 10 teams in the nation, but the truth is (if you can handle it) that this team could get a good deal better by season's end based on past performances by a few key runners. Although Holy Names may not be quite ready to go head-to-head with Fayetteville-Manlius, it likely has enough depth behind Maloy, Triller, Scott, Williams, and Smith to beat out Pennsbury and Tatnall for the 2nd spot.
Valley Central (NY)
Overview: The Vikings are ranked 10th among the big NY A class teams.
Roster: Holly Cavalluzzo (133), Kristen Borriello (113), Claudia Weiskittel (92), Christina Schneider (91), Destiny Ribadeneyra (78), Kelly Weiskittel (78)
Team Data: 101.4 TR. Won the Suffern-A race before finishing 2nd to Bronxville in the Warwick-1 race.
Comments: Holly Cavalluzzo has spent a long time running among the top runners in NY, and this year she and Kristen Borriello have their sights on leading the Vikings to a top 10 finish at ES and taking the team on a trip to NY States.
North Kingstown (RI)
Overview: The Skippers are ranked 4th in RI and finished 3rd in the RI states meet last year before taking 15th in the NE championship.
Roster: Aisha McAdams (121), Jaxine Wolf (100), Allison Lomas (82), Kelsey Spitalnic (79), Isabella Perrin (76)
Team Data: 93.6. Placed 1st in the RI Injury Fund-4 race and then took 7th in the Ocean State Championship race.
Comments: North Kingstown has Aisha McAdams fighting for a top 20 place and should be among the top 12 teams in the race.
Overview: The Warriors are ranked 23rd among the NY Class B teams and hail from around the same area as Fayetteville-Manlius, 14 miles to the east.
Roster: Emily Washburn (104), Annibel Coolican (101), Erin Morrel (87), Ginny Corcoran (70), Caroline Coats (68)
Team Data: 85.0. Finished 2nd in the Vernon-Verona-Sherril-3 race and then got 4th in NJ Shore Coaches Championship race.
Comments: Although Westhill will not be among the top teams in the Eastern States race, they do make some long trips to meets and are among four or five teams in NY's Section 3 in a close fight to make the journey out toward Buffalo for the State meet in a month.
Overview: The Falcons finally made the break in among the top 5 teams at ES with a 4th place, after which they went on to win the PA AAA state title. This year the team is ranked 14th in the US and 2nd in PA.
Roster: Madeline Sauer (126), Sara Sargent (123), Hannah Molloy (119), Olivia Sargent (116), Elizabet Wedekind (112), Erica Gray (106)
Team Data: 119.2 TR. Finished 2nd in the PIAA-AAA race and then was 1st in the Carlisle Puma Challenge.
Comments: Pennsbury is one of the most balanced teams at ES with Madeline Sauer and Sara Sargent in the lead, and with potentially four runners finishing in the top 30, the Falcons could move up among the top 3 teams here.
Champlain Valley (VT)
Overview: The Redhawks are the top ranked team in VT and among the Honorable Mention teams in the US rankings. Last year after placing 5th at ES they won both the state and NE championship and a spot at NXN Nationals, where they finished 21st.
Roster: Taylor Spillane (141), Autumn Eastman (135), Julienne Devita (115), Abby Keim (85), Emma Putre (83), Carly Neeld (76), Aleksey Jordick (74)
Team Data: 113.8. Took 1sts in the Essex-1 and Manchester-Elite races and then placed 2nd to NH's Coe-Brown Northwood at Woods Trail.
Comments: Few teams in the country have a better top pair than Taylor Spillane and Autumn Eastman, and both runners should finish among the top 10 at ES and lead the Redhawks to a place among the top 6 teams.
Overview: The Lancers are the top team in NH and finished 6th in the state championship last year.
Roster: Colleen Kennedy (103), Alissa Rogers (100), Cassandra Cronin (100), Sydney Lageux (95), Amanda Szymanski (80), Morgan McGrath (72)
Team Data: 97.6 TR. Won the Nashua Invitational and then placed 3rd in the Manchester-Elite race.
Comments: Londonderry is a fairly balanced team and will be fighting state rival Bishop Guertin and a few other teams for a spot in the Eastern States top 10.
Overview: The Tigers are among the top 10 teams in NY's big A class.
Roster: Brigid Brennan (119), Sarah Zieve (103), Cara Jozefowski (97), Jackie Thorne (97), Kelly Flanagan (96), Amelia Kuehn (95)
Team Data: 102.4 TR. Took 1st in the Bob Pratt-A race and then finished 2nd at the Suffolk County meet.
Comments: Northport has a nice pack in their 2-6 spots that could help the Tigers climb up among the top 7 teams, and Brigid Brennan should be among the top 25 finishers.
Benjamin Cardozo (NY)
Overview: The Judges are the NYC public school entrant this year and have two of the Big Apple's top runners to help lay down the law.
Roster: Denise Branch (121), Sabrina Southerland (119), Dekendra Dazzell (46), Veronica Bekheit (38), Jane Chan (37)
Team Data: 72.2 TR. Placed 8th in last weekend's NYC Mayor's Cup race at Van Cortlandt.
Comments: Mayor's Cup champ Denise Branch and teammate Sabrina Southerland are well familiar with the twists and turns of the VCP course and should finish among the top 30 runners in the race.
La Salle Academy (RI)
Overview: The Rams are rated #2 in Rhode Island and finished 9th at Eastern States last year on their way to 2nd place finishes in both the Rhode Island States meet and the New England Championship and a 7th at NXN-NE.
Roster: Sheridan Wilbur (119), Evie Jansen (106), Caroline Falvey (103), Caitlin Marino (102), Rachael Renzi (99), Ciara Lynch (92), Tiana Kibbe (76)
Team Data: 105.8 TR. Finished 10th among the teams at the Great American Race of Champions in NC.
Comments: With both some top strength and some depth, La Salle should finish in the top 10 and maybe move up from last year's finish. Sheridan Wilbur is among the top 25 runners heading to the line.
Friends Academy (NY)
Overview: The Quakers are ranked 12th among the NYS-C teams and finished 14th at Eastern States last year behind graduated runner Kelsey Margey who placed 4th.
Roster: Isabella Pascucci (92), Emily LeoGrande (84), Katrina Garry (75), Harmony Grodsky (69), Molly Sullivan (63), Domenica Lostritto (60)
Team Data: 76.6 TR. Placed 2nd at the Bruce McDonald meet on Long Island and then traveled to RI to place 4th in the Ocean State-1 race.
Comments: The small Friends team will again be expected to finish near the back of the pack at Eastern States, but they have a spot pretty much locked up for NY State Championship meet four weeks later.