Weekend Highlights: US#2 F-M Tops US#3 Burnt-Hills at McQuaid

The best weekend yet.  That's an easy way to describe this weekend's national cross country action.  Most of the top teams in the land took part in an invitational, with some teams coming up very big.  US#5 York (IL) kicked off their season by winning the Palatine Invitational, one of the big highlights of the weekend thus far.

NB Ocean State Inv. (RI) / McDonald's XC Festival (VA) / McQuaid Inv. (NY) / Roy Griak Inv. (MN) / Stanford Inv. (CA) / Carlisle Inv. (PA) / Jim Danner Inv. (OR) / Palatine Inv. (IL) / Culver Academies Inv. (IN) / LoboCat Inv. (CO) / Albuquerque Academy Inv. (NM) / Midwest Meet of Champions (OH)

Weekend Highlights & Results (9/26-9/28)

New Balance Ocean State Invitational (RI)

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Teams from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire all came together at the New Balance Ocean State Invitational Saturday looking to prove who is the top team in the region.  While each race was fairly competitive, at the end of the day the Newton South (MA) boys and Glastonbury (CT) girls raised the first place trophies claiming victory.

In the boys race Andrew Springer (Westerly, RI) outkicked in-state competition from teammates Nick Ross (East Greenwich, RI) and Feigen Mark (East Greenwich, RI).  Springer ran with Ross and Mark for much of the race, before pulling away to victory in 15:55.  Ross placed second in 15:57, while Mark placed third in 15:58.

Emily Jones (Bromfield, MA) made her big invitational debut this season, easily running away to a 37 second victory.  Jones ran 18:12 over the 5k distance, while runner-up Roxanne Henningson (Greenwich Central, RI) placed second in 18:49.

In the team competition Newton South beat second place St. John's Academy by a 113-151 margin.  Newton South used a strong 16:49 average and 1-7 depth to secure the victory.  Meanwhile, Glastonbury beat Lake Braddock 93-120 behind a very good top five.

McDonald's XC Festival at Maymont (VA)

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U.S. #4 Collins Hill (GA) steamrolled through the season leading up to Saturday's McDonald's XC Festival at Maymont.  However, that momentum came to a crashing halt as Tatnall (DE) beat Collins Hill off the sixth runner rule, with both teams finishing with 69 points.  Tatnall's sixth runner finished a mere four spots ahead of Collins Hill's, giving the squad the team title.

Juliet Bottorff (Sr., Tatnall, DE) led Tatnall to the team title with her fourth place finish in 18:36.  Collins Hill followed the lead of their star Amanda Winslow, who placed second in 18:22.  The surprise individual of the day came from ran winner Megan Marsico (Jr., Glenvar, VA), who upset the start studded field by winning the 5k race in 17:55.  Marsico beat Foot Locker finalist Kathleen Lautzenheiser (Jr., Midlothian, VA) and Winslow, who's a 4:49 miler in her own right.

Tatnall and Collins Hill were forces up front, placing three runners each in the top nine overall.  Both squads were similar in their spread as well, with Tatnall have a 1:33 1-5 time and Collins Hill having a 1:44 spread.  Blacksburg (VA) finished third in the girls field with 116 points, while U.S. #13 Midlothian (VA) finished fourth with 169 points with their number two runner finishing over 100th place.

On the boys side Ben DeJarnette (Sr., Atlee, VA) beat a strong field with a kick to the finish.  DeJarnette scored his victory by only two seconds over in-state rival Andrew Colley (Jamestown, VA), 15:40-15:42.  Kyle Satterwhite (Western Albemarle, VA) finished third overall in 15:59.  His teammate Tyler Stutzman, who many thought could win the race, finished 12th overall.  Matt Sonnenfeldt (Knoxville West, TN) finished fourth in 16:02.

Colley's finish also helped pace his Jamestown (VA) teammates to victory.  The squad beat runner-up Collins Hill (GA) 109-138, showing that they may be the team to beat this season in Virginia.

McQuaid Invitational (NY)

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It was a race that had all the pre-meet drama you could imagine.  The defending national champions and current U.S. #2 Fayetteville-Manlius (NY) versus the current U.S. #3 Burnt Hills (NY), a team that finished in the top five last year at Nike Team Nationals and looked poised to make a run at a national title in 2008.  That was the situation leading into Saturday's McQuaid Invitational, but at the end of the day the results told so much more than expected.

As the runners crossed the finish line one by one, it was obvious that Fayetteville-Manlius was the top squad on the day...by a lot.  F-M placed five runners in the top nine, following the lead of race winner Courtney Chapman.  Chapman crushed the field, running away to a 21 second victory of Burnt Hill's Sam Roecker.  Roecker and teammate Molly Pezzulo placed 2-3 in 17:19 and 17:28, while Molly Malone placed fourth for F-M in 17:30.

F-M then placed 6-7-9 while Burnt Hill's Meaghan Gregory placed eighth.  From there F-M rounded out their top seven well before Burnt Hills tallied their top five.  In the end F-M beat Burnt Hills 27-61, showing why they are the two-time defending national champions and why they are poised to make another run at the title this fall.

A similar battle ensued on the boys side, with Burnt Hills and Fayetteville-Manlius going head to head.  The race turned into a great showdown as Burnt Hills narrowly edged F-M 80-88.  F-M's Alex Hatz won the individual title in 14:57, ten seconds ahead of second place.  However, Burnt Hills' ran a tight team race, with strong 3-4 runners making all the difference.

Roy Griak Invitational (MN)

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U.S. #9 Dowling Catholic (IA) entered Saturday's Roy Griak Invitational as the heavy favorites to win the girls varsity gold race, especially with frontrunner Katie Flood kicking off her season.  However, Sioux Falls Roosevelt (SD) and Lee's Summit West (MO) had other plans.  All three squads ran close through the first two miles of the race, with Dowling Catholic looking strong as Flood and junior teammate Ashlie Decker easily running 1-2.

Despite Flood's and Decker's performances, Dowling Catholic were out run by Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Lee's Summit West, as the two squads placed 1-2, with Roosevelt winning by a 138-148 margin.  Led by fourth place finisher Seanna Kautz, Roosevelt won the meet with strong third and fifth runners, making all the difference.  Lee's Summit West ran behind the senior efforts of Chelsey Phoebus, who placed third in 19:06.

Dowling Catholic placed third overall with 176 points.  Flood won the overall title in 18:22 and Decker placed second in 18:28.  Both individuals showed that they are two of the best once again in the Midwest.

Meanwhile, Bismarck (ND) earned a surprise victory on the boys side, easily distancing themselves from the rest of the field.  The squad scored 78 points, well ahead of runner-up Lee's Summit West (MO), who scored 111 points. 

Bismarck followed the lead of race winner Joash Osoro, who ran away to a strong 16 second win in 15:38.  Brett Kelly of Madison West (WI) placed second in 15:55.  Bismarck also received another strong finish from fourth place Devin Huizenga in 15:59.  Lee's Summit West placed well behind third place Kevin Colon in third.  Minnesota state favorite Wayzata placed third in the team scoring with 155 points, using a strong 1-5 split of 44 seconds.

Stanford Invitational (CA)

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The annual powerhouse Stanford Invitational took place Saturday with many of the top teams and individuals in California, Colorado, Washington and Oregon taking part.  Putting up perhaps the best performance of the day was Molly Grabill (Sr., Rancho Bernardo, CA), who ran away from the girls varsity seeded field by 17 seconds.  Grabill bested runner-up Alyssa Andrews (Sr., Gig Harbor, WA) 17:35-17:52.  Christine Adams (Jr., Esperanza, CA) placed third in 18:05.

In the girls seeded team race, Torrey Pines (CA) continued their winning ways, outdoing Mountain View (CA) 136-144 to win the team title.  Junior Megan Morgan led the squad with her fourth place finish, while Torrey Pines' talented trio of freshmen finished 2-4 for the squad, each running between 18:43 and 19:35.

Arcadia (CA) won the boys varsity seeded race 128-162 over Jackson (WA).  Arcadia used a strong 1-2 punch up front with Ammar Moussa and Renard Poizat both finishing in the top ten.  The squad also ran a comfortable 58 second 1-5 split, showing why they are one of the top squads in California.  Davis Senior (CA) placed third with 166 points and Seattle Prep (WA) rounded out the top four with 171 points.

Individually, Walter Schafer (Jr., Cherry Creek, CO) ran away over the last quarter mile to win the 5k race in 15:25.  Schafer battled with Collin Jarvis (Sr., Rancho Buena Vista, CA), but in the end pulled away to a four second victory.  Jarvis crossed the line second in 15:29.

Carlisle Invitational (PA)

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PennTrackXC.com Meet Write-Up (scroll down in article)

Many of the top teams in Pennsylvania took part in Saturday's Carlisle Invitational, with the end results being a bit surprising. 

On the girls side, Virginia's Thomas Jefferson Science & Tech beat many of the top Pennsylvania squads by scoring 118 points.  Thomas Jefferson best runner-up and PA #5 Cumberland Valley (PA) by 11 points.  Council Rock North (PA) finished third with 152 points, while PA #2 Greater Latrobe (PA) finished fourth. 

The best individual performance of the day came in the girls top race, which saw Aisling Cuffe (So., Cornwall, NY) simply run away from the field, finishing the 5k race in 18:05.  Cuffe beat a strong competitor in Natalie Bower (Sr., Greater Latrobe, PA), as Bower finished second in 18:34. 

In the boys race PA #5 North Allegheny (PA) upset PA #1 North Penn (PA) 56-109, showing that their top five is looking stronger than many suspected.  North Allegheny placed their top five in the first 23 finishing positions, as sophomore Ryan Gil and senior Chase Broussard led the way for the team with third and fifth place finishes.  PA #4 Cumberland Valley (PA) finished third with 175 points.

Kyle Hurston (Sr., Carlisle, PA) ran a strong race to finish first overall in 15:59.  He was followed closely behind by North Penn junior Brad Miles, who finished in 16:02.  Both athletes pulled away from the rest of the field, with Gil finishing twelve seconds behind Miles.

Jim Danner Invitational (OR)

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Article by Maura Warren

It was a beautiful, clear sky day, in Portland, Oregon for the Nike Pre-Nationals Jim Danner Invitational. For those of us from the Pacific Northwest it was a pretty warm day for late September; high of 75 degrees and not much of a breeze. The weather seemed to keep the runners feeling loose, but for some the heat took them over at the finish line. The race was an opportunity for some teams to make a move into the top ten, and for others to defend spots earned at previous races. With this race taking place mid-way through the season the competition was kicking in, and everyone was looking for a strong race.

The girl’s championship race got started at 2:22pm, almost exactly on time, and the group was neck in neck right from the start. It wasn’t until the first mile mark that there were three clear leaders out in front. Annamarie Maag from Jesuit, Betsy Kolberg from Lincoln, and Annie Moore from Sehome, pushed each other the entire race. All three girls are from schools with heavy titles to defend, and you could see the determination on their faces.

Although Kolberg held strong the majority of the race, the true winner was not clear until the very end. Annamarie Maag used that great Jesuit talent to pull out a winning time of 18:17. Annie and Betsy followed her with times of 18:18 and 18:22.  As a team Jesuit showed their continued dominance with a score of 46.

After the race Annamarie seemed very calm and breathing easy for having just completed such a quick paced race. Although her face seemed happy Annamarie admitted that she was, “so scared” at the finish of the race. “My legs were cramping so bad and all I wanted to do was finish.” It was surprising to hear her confess this because she barely even stumbled after crossing the finish line. Cross country is usually considered an individual sport, but Annamarie showed her dedication to her team by running off to look for them soon after her finish.

The boy’s race had an equally dramatic finish, where the top three runners: Tim Freriks, Cody Helbling, and Julian-Blake Cowan battled it out until the very end. These three boys were out in front of the mob pretty much right from the beginning, and certainly solidified their place in the lead after the second mile. Simon Sorenson was also strong competition throughout the race, but dropped off slightly during the last half mile. Freriks had an amazing finish well ahead of the others and a time of 15:18. He let out a few shouts as he crossed the finish, that were so deep it was hard to tell whether they were out of joy or pain. One thing is for sure, Freriks surely felt relief for holding strong all the way across the finish line. Both races were held at Portland Meadows, where many of these runners will have a chance to try it again at the Nike Team Nationals in December.

Palatine Invitational (IL)

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Every year York High School (IL) opens up their varsity invitational season by racing at the Palatine Invitational.  This showcase features many of the top teams in state and the course simulates the state meet course very well.

With a few Illinois teams doing so well thus far this season, many were in attendance to see just how good York is in 2008.  Well, the squad proved that they are as good as ever, placing three runners in the top ten, while finishing first with 59 points, nearly scoring half the points runner-up Lyons Township (IL) scored.

Led by the 1-2 finish of seniors Steve Sulkin and Jordan Herbert, U.S. #5 York started off very strong.  Sulkin and Herbert simply ran away from the rest of the field, slowly increasing their gap from the rest of the field.  At the two mile mark they had a seven second lead, while at the finish they had nearly 15 seconds up on third place. 

Lyons Twp. finished a strong second with three runners in the top 13, scoring 117 points, while the host Palatine (IL) finished third with 135 points.

On the girls side Palatine dominated.  The squad ran an impressive top four, scoring 63 points and finishing 32 points ahead of second place Hinsdale Central (IL)Sarah McIntosh again led Palatine with a winning effort, cruising across the line right around 17:00 for three miles.  McIntosh's front running prowess helped her break away from the field, finishing well ahead of second place.

Culver Academies Invitational (IN)

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U.S #7 Carmel (IN) entered Saturday's Culver Academies Invitational with high expectations.  Last year the squad got beat by NTN champions Neuqua Valley (IL).  This year the Greyhounds looked to turn the tide, climbing their way up the national rankings and clearly establishing themselves as the top team in Indiana. 

While the start of the race showed Neuqua Valley and Carmel battling it out, the last mile proved Neuqua Valley should not be overlooked just yet, despite losing to U.S. #12 Geneva two weeks prior.  Neuqua Valley dominated the course, upsetting Carmel in the end by a 48-94 margin.

Led by senior Danny Pawola and junior Aaron Beattie, who finished second and fourth respectively for Neuqua Valley, the squad placed three in the top ten, while running an impressive 45 second 1-5 split.  Meanwhile, Carmel ran a solid pack race as they generally do, finishing with a 19 second 1-5 split.  However, lead runner Dan Kinn finished ninth overall for the team, a bit farther back then many expected. 

The other surprise of the day came from freshmen phenom Futsum Zeinasellassie (Fr., North Central, IN), who moved to the U.S. from Eritrea early in the summer.  For the past few weeks Zeinasellassie has garnered attention in Indiana, but Saturday seemed to be his breakout race.  Going against Pawola and fellow Indiana standout Drew Shields (Sr., Fishers, IN), Zeinasellassie showed why many consider him one of the top few runners in the Midwest.  Crossing the finish line in 15:20, Zeinasellassie could look back and see that he beat second place Pawola by 12 seconds and third-place Shields by 31 seconds.

On the girls side IN #1 Carmel (IN) easily beat the field, scoring 97 points to easily outrun second place Westfield (IN), who scored 155 points.  Freshman Renee Wellman guided the team with a second place finish in 18:29.  Dana Payonk (Jr., Lake Central, IN) placed first in 18:28, edging Wellman at the line for the victory.

LoboCat Invitational (CO)

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Article by Alan Versaw (ColoradoTrackXC.com)

Apparently, Joseph Manilafasha and Allie McLaughlin like the state course. That's not necessarily good news for anyone with designs on wresting a state title from their hands.

It was a cool evening, but there was fire on the course. Manilafasha did a circuit of the Fossil Ridge in a breathtaking 15:17. Only it didn't seem to take his breath away. Not to be outdone, Allie McLaughlin completed her tour in 17:21. It was a bad day to be running second. Wes Rickman finished in 15:31 and Kaitlin Hanenburg finished in 17:54. Almost any other meet, almost any other day, those are winning efforts. As it is, both stand as stellar efforts, but just a bit overshadowed by the first-place efforts.

After a half-hour lightning delay the boys varsity race started at 5 PM. Rickman and teammate Kevin Johnson momentarily held with Manilafasha (above), but the Denver North ace wasn't taking any hitchhikers. For almost the entire race, there was mostly a lot of air behind Manilafasha. Click Here for Entire Article

Albuquerque Academy Invitational (NM)

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Despite sitting frontman Pat Zacharias, U.S. #2 Albuquerque Academy (NM) showed why they could very well be the top team in the country currently, as the team beat U.S. #6 Los Alamos (NM) 50-80 at their home invitational.

Led by Neil Longenbaugh's sixth place finish, Academy scored their win with a strong top four performance, seeing their top four place 6-8-9-10.  The team impressed even more by using a strong 25 second split 1-5, with Taylor Murray running as their fifth man in 17th place.

Individually, Kevin Palmer (Eldorado, NM) won the ran in 16:06 over the 5k course (run at altitude).  Palmer led the race from start to finish, using a strong last 800m to wrap up the individual crown.  Gareth Gilna (Los Alamos, NM) placed second in 16:17.

While the Academy boys ran well, their female teammates did as well.  Academy won the girls varsity race by a 74-97 margin over La Cuera (NM)Clara Milne (Albuquerque Academy, NM) won the race, while guiding two more of her teammates to top eight finishes.

Midwest Meet of Champions (OH)

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Many of the top ranked team in Ohio came together Saturday at the Midwest Meet of Champions in Ohio to see just who is the best at this point in the season.  Running away from the field in the boys varsity race was Zach Wills (So., Mason, OH).  The sophomore blazed the field, winning by 22 seconds in a great 5k time of 15:02.36.  Wills performance also helped guide his Mason (OH) team to the overall title with 94 points.

On the girls side Magnificat (OH) trumped their competition, showing why they are the top ranked team in the state.  Led by individual runner-up Madeline Chambers, Magnificat scored a mere 31 points, besting second place Cin. St. Ursula (OH) by 58 points.  Magnificat placed five runners in the top ten.  Kristen Smith (Sr., Clarkston, MI) won the overall title with a winning mark of 17:59.  Chambers finished three second behind Smith.