No Individual Stars Needed For F-M Girls To Be Led To 8th Title

Photos by Gary Paulson & Phil Johnson

Fayetteville Manlius found itself in unfamiliar territory at last year’s Nike Cross Nationals.

Head coach Bill Aris and his squad finished as a runner-up to Wayzata, Minn., ending a string of seven straight victories.

Guess it’s time to begin another streak. Was there ever a question?

Putting on a clinic on team compression at Portland, Oregon’s Glendoveer Golf Course, the Hornets captured win No. 8 at NXN on Saturday morning. The New York powerhouse scored just 70 points, easily defeating second-place Great Oak, Calif., which finished with 149 points. Carmel, Ind., was third with 173 points.

“After the disappointment of last year, we ran well today,” Aris said. “We ran a total team race and our compression was outstanding. They ran to win as a team and that makes it extra special.”

Talk about an understatement. As a team, Fayetteville Manlius’s gap between its first and fifth runners – a mere 11 seconds!

The Hornets claimed the 46th through 49th positions with senior teammates Sophie Ryan and Annika Avery setting the pace with identical times of 18:38. Right on their heels with matching times of 18:39 was freshman Sophie Ryan and junior Jenna Farrell. Junior Samantha Levy solidified the crown by taking 58th overall with an 18:46 clocking.

“What I was paying attention to is the runners around us or ahead of us being individual or team runners,” said Aris, whose team breezed to a 34-point win over Saratoga Springs at the NXN New York Regionals last weekend. The Blue Streaks were 11th on Saturday. “What I saw was all the runners ahead of our first girl were individuals not team runners. I think there were three or four ahead of us that came in one big group. I knew we were in good shape then.”

Great Oak, a convincing victor in the CIF California Division 1 Cross-Country Championship last week, was paced by junior Destiny Collins, who was 40th overall and eighth among team runners with a time of 18:31. Sophomore Kiyena Beatty was 55th at 18:45.

“I think you saw the results of who the best teams in the country were so I’m happy with that,” Great Oak coach Doug Soles said. “We knew if we ran our race plan we could come in the top couple of teams. We didn’t know if we could beat Fayetteville Manlius. We just wanted to run the best race we can and see how the chips fall.”

Carmel, a winner at the NXN Midwest Regionals on Nov. 16, made its fifth appearance to NXN. Once again, the Greyhounds shined at the national meet with their podium finish, match their 2012 effort. Last year, Carmel placed fourth overall.

“Our heads are high,” Carmel coach Mark Ellington said. “We had a plan and we executed it. There was just two teams that were better than us.”

The Greyhounds had three of their runners break 19 minutes with senior Haley Harris placing 43rd in 18:32. She was followed by freshman Maddie Dalton (65th, 18:51) and senior Kelsey Harris (74th, 18:55).