New York State is home to some of the greatest girls' teams and individuals the country has ever seen. From the unthinkable seven-time defending National Champions, to the fastest 1500m prep ever, New York is deeper than most other states. It takes a lot to shine through, and below are the ones that stood above the rest (in our opinion). Read on and enjoy, and be sure to check out our Dream Team down below.
1 - Taylor Driscoll - Saratoga - A breakout season for Saratoga's top flight cross country runner, Taylor Driscoll solidified herself this season as a front runner. NY #3 for juniors last year, Driscoll showed her summer training was being put to good use, as she opened her season by winning the Queensbury Invite by nearly 20 seconds against a field of some top talent. She returned one week later to reinforce her dominance, by placing third overall at the Great American Cross Country Festival, where she placed 11th the year before. Her Invitational season over, Driscoll returned to Section 2 to put in swift performances in her local sectional meets, aiding her team to qualify for states. At States, the quick course at Elma Meadows yielded at 4th place performance 6 seconds ahead of the next competitor. In one of the deepest states in the nation, Driscoll had asserted herself as a runner who could push the pace early, and hold it for the duration. Heading to Bowdoin Park for Federations, Driscoll again placed well, hitting 3rd, a mark which would she would repeat the following week at Nike Cross Regionals. Out in Portland, Driscoll again proved she was one of the best, finishing 9th overall in the National Caliber meet, leading her team to a 5th place finish.
2 - Megan Young - Nanuet - Megan Young is no stranger to the limelight. As a freshmen, Young won the class B state title. However, during her sophomore and junior years, growth spurts created some frustration. Now a senior, Young began her season on a mission: to see the top of the podium one more time before she graduated. Her Invitational season started out as well as many can hope, placing 1st at both the Red Raider Run and the Brewster Bear Invite, and 9th at EJ Hermann. However, it would be her Manhattan Invite Letter Race that Young would breakout, where she took 3rd in her division, and 30th overall. As a class B athlete, Young had solidified herself as back in business. Young returned to Section 1 for a handful of top placing finishes, and left nothing to the imagination at Sectionals, where she blasted to a first place finish on the grueling Bowdoin Park, clocking 18:44, leading her team to the win as well. Again, Young had her eyes on the title as the State's swiftest Class B Athlete, and took out the race at Elma Meadows on that mission. And it was her hard work that paid off, as she crossed the line all alone, in the first position. Young would return to grab 4th place at Federations to chop ten seconds off her Bowdoin Season Best, but the state title would go on to define her season.
3 - Holly Cavalluzzo - Valley Central - Holly Cavalluzzo has staying power. Since an 8th grader, she has perennially been hailed as a top 20 athlete in New York State. As other runners came and went, Cavalluzzo was again battling the best. Her senior year was no exception, with an early season Invitational season that saw her in first place at the Suffern Invitational, and 3rd overall at the Warwick Wave Invite, where she still holds the underclassman course record. However, fast forward two weeks, and enter the Mahattan Invitational, with some of the best teams and individuals on the East Coast. Cavalluzzo showed no fear, taking the race out hard, and cruising in front of names like Tatnall and Fayetteville-Manlius. She would cross the line third overall, an astounding performance for any runner in such a deep field. After the race, Cavalluzzo would take a weeks rest, then return for her local champs, where she took 4th overall, and qualify for States the weekend after. At Elma Meadows, Cavalluzzo would finish 20th in Class A, and place similarly at Nike Cross Regionals.
4 - Erin McConnell - Fabius-Pompey - Erin McConnell comes from a small school in rural Syracuse. As such, her indoor team consisted of only a handful of hopefuls. As such, she and a couple others went to the next school over, to train in the "off-season." It just so happens that the next school over is Fayetteville-Manlius, home of some of the best runners in the country. McConnell, adapting to the training and philosophy's, returned this summer to train for cross country with the Hornets. The rest is history, as they say. To describe McConnell's invitational season requires only one word: undefeated. The senior took first at VVS, Baldwinsville, Tully, and Chittenango, acquiring speed ratings in the low 140's. She would return to championship season with the same speed, placing 1st in her division at the sectional qualifiers. At States, McConnell took out hard with the leaders, and finished strong to a 4th place performance, slightly removed from her usual speed. Not taken back by the setback, McConnell returned two weeks later to reclaim her speed, and accomplished it by finishing 14th overall in the state at Nike Cross Regionals, only two spots out of qualifying. She was the top placing Class D athlete.
5 - Jillian Fanning - Fayetteville Manlius - Injury can happen to anyone, despite all preparations and prevention. Last years XC runner of the year, Jillian Fanning started her season in a car rather than a singlet. For the first half of the season, the senior was traveling to colleges for many of the typical invitational weekends, a venture that eventually concluded with her choosing Providence. Also during this time, Fanning strained her quadriceps, requiring some extra precaution. With their first Invitational on the horizon, Fanning was still recovering, pacing herself through the dual meets her team was using as tuneups. Come Manhattan, one look at the course conditions after a heavy rain, and coach Bill Aris vetoed the decision to having Fanning run, as a precaution to agitating the injury. Fanning would remain resilient, finishing up her dual meets and returning to quadriceps at full strength. Unfortunately, that's when the head cold sank in. Still, Fanning pushed through, to place 11th in one of the toughest sections of the state. Fanning would return to place well again at States, hiding another illness that hampered her. But one thing was clear, Fanning was running well, finishing all of her races in a pack of her teammates that proved to be an unbeatable tactic. She would continue using this tactic even with health, placing 11th at Nike Cross Regionals, and 21st at Nike Cross Nationals, placing again alongside teammates.
Alt - Georgia Tuttle - Irondequoit
Alt - Delphi Cleaveland - Arlington
1 - Mary Cain - Unnattached - A season not without controversy of the field, Mary Cain has shown her track exploits can be transferred to the grass. Coming off a National Record in the summer, Cain's start to the season was delayed to recover. When she did return, it was clear that there wasn't many that could keep up. After a season cut short by a coaching changeover, Cain was looking at a undefeated season after qualifying at Nike Cross Nationals. However, while Cain was ahead of the crowd back home, there was another force rising elsewhere. As she was cruising to fast times on the East Coast, winning the Manhattan Invite merge by a very clear margin, amongst other victories, another runner was emerging as the "Cain of Cross." After Cain broke the National record by nearly ten seconds, many on the message boards called her the "Greatest American Middle-Distance Prep" ever. However, the title of "Greatest Ever" thrown around too easily had shifted to another junior out west, Sarah Baxter. The defending NXN champion, Baxter shook the prep cross world when she went 16-flat at Mt. Sac, the California version of Bowdoin Park. A matchup was brewing, as the two coastal favorites would eventually collide, at the Nike Cross Nationals. After each qualified, the stage was set. The course a warzone, the gun went off, and the pair soon broke away. The race soon turned into a duel between two of the "Greatest Evers." Baxter would pull the pace hard, and increase her lead over Cain as the race continued. With 800m to go, the lead looked uncloseable, as Baxter was cruising into the finish line, but Cain gave her signature kick to close the gap by about 6 seconds, to make Baxter earn it. With getting second, Cain was able to do something no one else had all season: make Sarah Baxter work hard for her win.
2 - Katie Lembo - Penfield - The NY #4 sophomore last year, Lembo showed a distinctive improvement in 2012. Not relying on an easy schedule, the upstate junior started her season with her only "loss," getting second at the Parma Park Invite. From then on out, it was all gold for the Penfield harrier. And they were hard fought wins as well, as Lembo would face some of the states best at the McQuaid Invite. Taking the race out hard, she managed to hold off 6 other members of this All-State list. From there, she placed first at her home invite, as well as at the Seneca and Clarence Invites. She would return to win both her County and Sectional titles, solidifying her shot at States. In all, Lembo acquired 7 first place finishes in her Invitational season, and only one silver. After that full schedule, Lembo returned for the State meet, taking 5th overall, and proving to all she was a force. Not apt to taking a week off, Lembo traveled to Bowdoin Park for the only time in her season, and grabbed second overall in the Federation race. Taking the road less traveled, Lembo opted to vie for a spot at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional. The choice proved fruitful, as Lembo nabbed 5th overall, and booked her flight to San Diego. Out at Nationals, amongst the top runners in the country, Lembo was the top New York finisher, taking 21st overall.
3 - Marissa Saenger - Clarence - Marissa Sanger, out of Section 6, had a breakout season. Running above average but unranked last year, she actually skipped her indoor season. Then, in spring, she proved to be Section 6's fastest 1500 girl, going on to take 16th overall at the State meet. Come cross country, Saenger found her speed on some different footing. The first signs of success came from the VVS invitational, where she placed first overall, beating out a slew of top talent from section 3, in a race where she placed 52nd in her heat last year. She returned a week later, winning her heat at the gigantic McQuaid Invitational. That's where things started rolling. She followed that up with a win at the KnoxC Invite, and the top spot in a letter race at the Manhattan Invitational. She returned home to her home Invitational, placing 2nd behind Lembo. At her Sectional meet, she got her first shot at the States course, placing first to solidify her spot. Already on everyone's radar, Saenger stormed past some favorites to get third overall, a spot on the podium, and the recognition she deserved. Also opting for Foot Locker, she nabbed a coveted 7th spot to book her ticket. Out against the top talent of the United States, Saenger placed 25th overall. We can explect big mile times from the junior this winter.
4 - Gianna Frontera - Newburgh Free Academy - Ranked #3 as a sophomore last year, Frontera improved yet again in 2012. Claiming the third fastest 5k time of the season, Frontera began her season with a pair of wins at two very tough invites. The Six Flags Safari Invite saw her conquer the New Jersey speed course, and the Bowdoin XC Classic saw her defend the New York honor at Bowdoin Park. Paired with her first win at the Suffern Invite, Gianna had proven she had matured into a serious threat in every race she ran. The next month saw Frontera nab a quartet of silver medals, as she ran very well at the Grout Invite, at Burnt-Hills, and her two sectional meets. Qualifying for the State meet, she would go on to place sixth overall in the very strong field. She had proven she was a contender for any title, and she was then slated to return to Bowdoin Park for the Nike Cross Regionals. Her experience proved key, as she placed 4th overall to book her flight to Portland. Out at NXN, Frontera finished 31st, in the top quarter of the best athletes around.
5 - Kennedy Jensen - Canandaigua - Returning as NY #5 in her age division, Kennedy Jensen has been a top flight athlete in all of her races in 2012. Starting at the top, she placed 1st in the Parma Park Invite, then returned to McQuaid to take 4th in the lead pack that was clear of the rest of the field. She also returned to the Tully Invite, where she won her heat, and was the second fastest harrier on the day. At the Section 5 county champs, Jensen took the race out strong, and came across the line second, only to Penfield's Katie Lembo. The outcome would repeat itself the next weekend at Sectionals, and Jensen would move on to States. Jensen proved success was all relative, as she placed 7th overall, beating out many of the states best. She rode her success down to Bowdoin Park, where she qualified again (she did so last year) for the Nike Cross Nationals. Out in Portland, she would finish 46th out of nearly 400 runners, proving again that the girls of New York are one of the strongest runners around.
Alt - Alana Pearl - Fayevettville-Manlius
Alt - Laura Leff - West Genesee
1 - Bella Burda - Arlington - Clearly the breakout athlete of the season, Bella Burda had only run freshmen division races her first year. Visiting the team in the summer, Coach Arnett clearly stated "this is one to watch for." And watch the state did, as Burda began to run away with races. At the opening weekend Somers' Invite, Burda ran away from the field by fifteen seconds. With sights on bigger meets, she traveled to Queensbury to take second, only behind veteran Taylor Driscoll. Traveling again, Burda pushed Katie Lembo to the line at the McQuaid Invite, taking second again. From there, Burda began to crush the competition, by winning a stacked Burnt Hills Invite. Turning her eyes to Bowdoin Park, Burda won her league meet, the highly competitve Section 1 Coaches, and flew away from the field by 25 seconds at Sectionals. At states, Burda took second overall, by only 3 seconds overall, on a course built for speedsters. Returning to Bowdoin, she placed first overall at the Federation meet, and sealed herself as the best person seated to challenge Mary Cain at NXR. Challenge she did, as the two found themselves locked at the hip throughout the race, only getting outkicked with 400m to go. Heading into Nationals, Burda had solidified herself as the states newest speedster, and many people had their eyes on her being a threat out in Portland. However, muddy conditions conquered all out west. After leading for the first half of the race, Burda finished 45th overall, one of the top placing sophomores in attendance. Look for big things from this star in Winter.
2 - Annika Avery - Fayetteville-Manlius - Last years fastest freshmen, Annika Avery didn't have to worry about the college visits many of her teammates were taking. With her season starting at Manhattan, and teammate Fanning sitting out, Avery took the race out hard with Tatnall's Reagan Anderson, leading the field through the half. Holding on through the second half, Avery placed 20th overall, holding on to be the 4th place sophomore in the race. From there, the 10th grader began to run more conservatively, holding a steady pace that led her to a third place finish overall in her league championship. She returned the week after to win the Section 3 championship on a tough course. First overall in Section 3 is no feat to scoff at, as it holds some of the states best. Avery rode that confidence to the state meet, where she mixed it up with her teammates, finishing in that block that secured them the dominating win. She repeated the strategy two weekends after, as they went again in a solid block to qualify for NXN. Individually, Avery placed 10th. Out in Portland, Avery placed 64th after having an off day, still placing above half of the pack.
3 - Siobhan Quinn - Rush Henrietta-Sperry - Siobhan Quinn knows how to peak her performances. After taking third at the GCC Invite, and 6th at McQuaid, Quinn came ready to run at the Manhattan Invite. She ran to victory in her letter race, running 14:50 at Van Cortlandt. Taking a week off, she returned to the scene, placing 15th at her county championship. However, with a chance at going to states on the line, she returned to take third overall at the Sectional meet, in a very tough field. Quinn raced well at States again, placing fourteenth overall in 18:20.6. Next week, she traveled down to Bowdoin Park for the Federation Championship, improving to a 5th place finish. It was clear that Quinn knew how to tackle the hills that claim the legs of many an athlete. It was only seven days later that Quinn would return to Bowdoin, where she would again place fifth against an even stronger field. Knowing how to qualify, Quinn was off to Portland, where she finished 59th overall in the loaded field, again in the top quarter of the field.
4 - Mary Barger - Fayetteville-Manlius - See a recurring theme on this list? Fayetteville-Manlius again has another harrier in the top five, giving truth that despite being pack runners, any one individual would be a frontrunner on any other team. Mary Barger went into the summer recovering from an injury sustained from her Steeple race in the spring sectional meet. Once released from her medical boot, she began training with the rest of the hornets, and began showing prominence. In the dual meets the Hornets used as tuneups, Barger found herself finishing closer and closer to the front. In their first major Invite, Barger placed 45th to help secure the team to getting 2nd overall. After Manhattan, Mary found her footing, coming back to hit 4th in her league championship, and 4th again at her Sectional championship. Clearly a part of the Hornet pack, Barger continued to run at an elevated level, finishing tenth at the State meet. The pack running secured, she continued to run well, placing 20th at regionals, and 22nd at Nationals, finishing toe-to-toe with Fanning at NXN.
5 - Kate Zendell - Suffern - NY#7 last year for underclassmen, Kate Zendell has another year under her belt, and is beginning to show prominence. Taking third at the Washingtonville race, she again took third against the upperclassman at her home invite. Third again at the Warwick Wave, only behind Mary Cain and one other, Zendell was slated for a good season. Taking her talent out of state, she traveled to Paul Short to take 19th overall in a loaded field of Pennsylvania speedsters. Returning home, she had another slew of East Coast harriers, where she took 3rd in her letter race at Manhattan. Heading back home to race in her sectional meets, she took second in her league and third in her country. She had a breakout race in her Sectional Championship, placing third in a stacked field. At States, Zendell would place 30th, and continue to a 10th place finish at the Federation meet, again at Bowdoin Park. One last weekend in her season, Zendell cruised to 21st at the Nike Cross Regionals.
Alt - Kaylee Scott - Academy of the Holy Names
Alt - Bea Boylan - Cornwall
1 - Megan Reilly - 9th - Warwick Valley - Unranked last year after only a try on the Manhattan Course, Megan Reilly came into the season touting some good 1500m marks. At her home invitational, in her opening weekend, Reilly broke out at a meet that many thought coverage would center around Cain. Megan Reilly stormed to the finish thirty seconds ahead of the competition. She returned the week after to take 5th at the Roy Griak Invite, and set the stage for the Manhattan Invitational, where she was entered in the Letter Races. At Manhattan, she stormed the course as she broke away from the pack, and found herself running right with Mary Cain, who at that time was still running for Bronxville. The two went into the woods together, and came out as such as well. Cain would kick away, but Reilly was in sight for the remainder of the race, nabbing the second fastest time of the day, an astounding feat for a freshmen at that meet. From there, Reilly realized she was the "Real Deal," and brought a new intensity to her races. Paired with the helpful guidance of upperclassman teammate Katie Fitzgerald, Reilly went on to sweep her Sectional races, and again had a monster performance at the state meet. If one thing was clear, put Reilly on a flat course, and she is unbeatable. Reilly ran away from the field in the last straights of Elma Meadows, to one finish official say, "Doesn't that look like Jordan Hasay coming down the finish line?" The following week, Reilly headed to Bowdoin Park and finished eighth. Returning to Van Cortlandt, Reilly took 9th to earn herself both a ticket to San Diego, and her legs a much needed time to recharge. Out in San Diego, Reilly led the race through the first mile, and held on to a 31st place finish, and one of only two freshmen to qualify for the meet. Look for big things from this freshmen once they get her on the track.
2 - Olivia Morrow - 9th - Saratoga Springs - NY#6 for underclassmen last year, Olivia Morrow has progressed to be the number 2 girl on the fifth best team in the nation. Perenial powerhouse Saratoga has been strong for years, proving they know how to progress young talent, and Morrow is no exception. At Queensbury, Morrow took 4th overall to pounce onto the scene, and followed that up with a 30th place finish at Great American, toppling many girls her senior. Heading back to training, Morrow continued to improve her strength, which was evident when she returned to take 4th in her league championship. Continuing on at home, Morrow snagged 11th in her Sectional championship, securing her ticket to the state meet. She placed 21st at Elma, which yielded a second place finish in the state for her team. Olivia had proven she could run with the best of them, and looked to do well out West. At the Federation meet, Morrow would surge to seventh overall, this time securing the win for her Saratoga Squad. Returning to Bowdoin Park once again, she finished 13th overall, and was headed to Portland. Out in the muddy conditions, Morrow finished 47th overall.
3 - Maryanna Lansing - 9th - Shaker - NY#5 for underclassmen last year, Maryanna Lansing is no stranger to huge competition. Running in Section 2 can be tough for both genders, but girls find themselves buried in some of the deepest teams around. At her home invitational, Lansing broke out to a sixth place finish in her division, hitting 18:45.0. Heading to Queensbury, she again had another top performance, netting eleventh overall. Lansing then traveled down south to what some call pre-nationals, the Great American Cross Country Festival. There, Lansing took 3rd in her heat, proving she was stemmed to be on a national stage. The stage came quickly, because after taking first at the Grout Invite, Lansing was entered into a letter race at the Manhattan Invitational. She took sixth overall in her race, an impressive mark, and continued on back home. She took 1st in her league championship, while grabbing third at both her County and Sectional meets. Headed to states, Lansing began to train again, and it paid off, as she took 12th overall in a loaded States field. Heading to Bowdoin Park for Federations, she would fend off the masses to take 16th overall. The following week, during an off day, Lansing finished in 58th at the Nike Cross Regionals.
4 - Hope Pietrocarlo - 9th - Maple Grove - At the start of the summer, the first thing the girls of Maple Grove did was to buy some ruby slippers. That was because they would now be facing the witches all season, and wanted luck on their side. In a turn of fate, they didn't need luck, because they had Hope. Pietrocarlo that is. At their home meet, Pietrocarlo took 6th overall as an individual, only coming from a Class D school. She took her talents to McQuaid next, where she took seventh in her division, in a quick 18:12.0. Peaking for post-season, the medals started to pick up after that, when she took second at the Southern Tier Invite, and first in her divisions in her sectional meets. At the state meet, Pietrocarlo knew she needed to push the pace to lead her team to the win. And that she did, running with the top seeded athletes the whole way, holding on for third in 18:57.0. She capped off her season with a 42nd mark in the Nike Cross Regionals, and leaves freshmen year with a state title.
5 - Sophia Tasselmeyer - 9th - Starpoint - Sophia Tasselmeyer played two roles this fall. She was the newest addition to the Starpoint squad, and also its swiftest member. In her first meet, she claimed 2nd at the West Seneca Invite ,and 7th at the GCC Cougar Invite. However, it was at McQuaid, when Tasselmeyer took 12th, that people began to take notice. The Starpoint girls have gone on to be top talent in the state. Tasselmeyer continued from McQuaid to grab first at next weeks Bulldog Stampede Invite, and a second spot at the Clarence Invite. She would move up one spot to second for both her League and Sectional championship, to secure her invite to States. Once there, she would run to 5th in Class B, amongst strong competition. It earned her an invite to Feds, where she placed 23rd across all classes, and then 17th overall at the Nike Cross Regionals, just barely out of the qualifying positions.
Alt - Stephanie Gerland - 9th
Alt - Jenna Farrell - 9th
2012 MileSplit NY Dream Team
1 - Mary Cain
2 - Bella Burda
3 - Megan Reilly
4 - Taylor Driscoll
5 - Katie Lembo
Alt - Marissa Saenger
Alt - Annika Avery
And just for reference
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