The Eastern States Championship race at the Manhattan Invitational is meant to bring together some of the best teams in the country on a course considered a benchmark for evaluating distance runners. With that said, New York proved again to be one of the most competitive states in the US in cross country.
Photos by Tim Fulton, ArmoryTrack.com
NEW YORK – Shaker’s Mike Libruk remarked after the race how the similarities between his teammates are uncanny. They are around the same height and build. He said they have similar personalities.
NEW YORK – Bill Aris said something was different. The times across the board didn’t match with the super-fast performances that many expected. But one thing remained constant at the Manhattan Invitational: Fayetteville-Manilus looked as close as it gets to indestructible.
The Midlothian High School cross country team and long-time head coach Stan Morgan made their annual trip every October to Van Cortlandt Park for the Manhattan College Invitational. Riding high from their runner-up team finishes by both the boys and girls at Great American earning them national rankings and recognition, the expectations were high for another big day this weekend in their second travel meet in consecutive weeks. However, the state's top ranked boys and girls squads from Midlo did not enjoy as great of a day as Great American. The Midlothian girls ran respectable for fourth place but still have work to do to seriously challenge Delaware's Tatnall squad to become the best team in the NXN Southeast Region. US #2 and Great American champions Saratoga Springs of New York pulled out last second, so US #1 ranked and defending Nike Cross Nationals team champions Fayetteville-Manlius of New York won quite convicingly with a 14:43 team average on the 2.5 mile course and team score of 32 points. The Tatnall girls looked strong and the best from the Southeast in second place this weekend with 80 points and were clearly superior to Midlothian at Manhattan, who finished in fourth with 164 points. Midlothian hopes to maintain itself at least as the #2 team in the Southeast Region next month in Cary, North Carolina for one of the two NXN automatic qualifiers from the region. Midlothian freshmen Kari Johnston ran spectacular in her first trip to Manhattan to finish among the top 20 with a time of 15:32 for 19th place. Midlothian had a great tightly bunched top four pack at Great American, but was unable to keep the same pack together at a 1K shorter distance this weekend with Johnston and teammate Claire Benjamin (23rd, 15:35) coming in close together, but the rest of their top five spreading out. The Midlothian boys only had 34 seconds separating their top five but their front end and back end both needed to finish higher in order to be competitive in a field against many of the top teams in New York and Northeast region. Brayden Burleigh was projected to finish well within the top 10 and well under 13 minutes on the historic Van Cortlandt Park course after his 15:20 5K PR run at Great American, but suffered an off race in 21st place with a time of 13:15. The team's chances of finishing high in the field were severely dampered without an individual among the top 15. The Eastern States team champions Shaker (102 pts, 13:14 avg) of New York did not have a single runner break 13 minutes, but nearly put four runners ahead of Midlothian's top finisher and brief 15 second swarm was it took for their entire top five to finish (13:08 to 13:23). The Midlo boys finished 7th in the 19 team field with a team score of 207 points and 13:30 average. It will be 18 days from now until Midlothian will race their top squad again at full speed in their district meet at Pocahontas State Park.
Photo by Geoffrey Decker for PennTrackXC.com
Virginia's top ranked boys and girls cross country teams from Midlothian will be racing on Saturday against the top teams in the Northeast in the Eastern States Championship division at the Manhattan College Invitational. In our MileSplit affiliate site in New York, ArmoryTrack.com's meet preview, the Midlothian boys were ranked as the #2 fastest team coming into the meet based off the famous Tully Runners speed ratings at a 177.4 speed rating behind Christian Brothers Academy of New Jersey at a 178.4 speed rating. The Midlothian boys program has never ran this fast at this point of the season as the Trojans ran last Saturday nearly putting six runners under 16 minutes on the 5K course at Great American. The Midlothian girls made history and rocked the foundation of the New York girls dominance in high school country back in 2006 when they won the title at Manhattan. Could the Midlothian boys be primed to pull off such a monumental feat? Read more on VA preview for Manhattan... Boys Eastern States Preview Girls Eastern States Preview Race Assignments Time Schedule Course Map - Google map has info on bathrooms, starting line, and much more Van Cortlandt Park - even more info on races at Van Cortlandt, where to eat, park, and watch the races.
The 3rd running of the Boys Eastern States at the Manhattan Invitational may not include quite the pyrotechnics of the Girls Eastern States, but it has a nice balance of strong teams. Of the 23 teams listed for the race, 8 are from NJ, 6 from NY, 3 from PA, and the remaining 6 include 2 from Rhode Island and 1 each from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and California.
The Girls Eastern States Championship at the Manhattan College Invitational on October 9th is loaded. Fayetteville-Manlius (NY), Saratoga Springs (NY), Great Oak (CA), Tatnall (DE), Queensbury (NY), and Pennsbury (PA) are entered in the race. According to the September 20 edition of the Harrier Top 25, those teams are ranked #’s 1,2,3,10,14 and 17.