Long Island Boys' Preview
In the New York City metropolitan area only one team can be the best shot to earn a bid to the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., at the end of the season. And that team looks like St. Anthony's.
Coach Tim Dearie's Friars are looking to live up to the respect they are getting as TullyRunners.com has them as the pre-season No. 2 for New York State (not too far ahead of Northport, also of Long Island). St. A's is also ranked 18th nationally by Milesplit's Aaron Rich.
With two NXN automatic spots going to Empire State teams and two more spots available as at-large bids, Northport could be in the hunt as well. But the Tigers have a tough path to the state championships as the Boys' Class A lineup in Section 11 also features Walt Whitman, Ward Melville and North Babylon — each ranked in the top 15 in the state.
North Babylon's Kris Moran — who was 15th at Federations in 2011 — is perhaps the toughest runner on the Island. He won the indoor 3,200m run at States and was seventh at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in the two-mile. Here are the picks:
Long Island Boys' Pre-Season Top Five
1. St. Anthony's (Suffolk County — CHSAA)The Friars bring back five guys from their squad which placed fifth at NYS Federations and fourth at NXN Regionals — each timesaveraging right around 17:00 at Bowdoin Park. Patrick Ginty is installed as the team leader after running 16:48 at both of those meets. Matt Taddeo should be ready to bust 17:00 now that he's run 4:22 for 1,600 meters and with Jake Hensler having already run 17:07, St. A's boasts a great 1-2-3 punch. But the Friars will have to watch our for Fayetteville-Manlius, Northport, Arlington and Saratoga if they want to be on the line in Portland this December.
2. Northport (Suffolk County — Section 11)Can a strong spring translate into a strong fall for the Tigers? You bet. Northport has four boys who ran under 4:21 back, seven under 4:32, and a slew of youngsters ready to step up if needed. They appear to have both front strength in Tim McGowan and James Dickinson and great depth in Mike Branigan and Chris Odin. TullyRunners.com has Northport fifth in NYS, but they very well could be the best team in the state. Only one team from outside Section 2 or Section 3 has won the Class A state title in the last 12 years. Northport could be the second.
3. Walt Whitman (Suffolk County — Section 11)Ranked 11th overall in the state and fifth in Class A, the Wildcats have their work cut out for them if they are going to beat Northport. But they do have their top three back, led by Zach Cammer and Michael Damato. Whitman was ninth at NXN Regionals a year ago and could be in a similar spot without improvement from the back end. They do bring back four boys who ran between 4:19 and 4:30 last spring.
4. Chaminade (Nassau County — CHSAA)Chaminade is definitely a squad that can climb up these rankings. Sean Kelly, Thomas Slattery and Gunnar Nixon each ran under 4:22 for 1,600 meters on the track. That's a top three that could match up with almost any team in the state. Add seniors Matt Walsh and Chris Grant and Flyers have the makings to make a run at St. Anthony's for that CHSAA crown. All they need is those fourth and fifth men to move up a bit and they'll be right in it. Easier said than done.
5. Sanford H. Calhoun (Nassau County — Section 8)Calhoun brings back fiive of its top seven from a year ago, but they will have to improve to hold off the pack behind them. Teams like Ward Melville, North Babylon, Syosset, Shoreham Wading River and Bayport-Blue Point could all find themselves in this spot by season's end. Zachary Toner and Christopher Landi lead the way for the Colts, who placed second to Port Washington at the Section 8 state qualifiers.
Boys' Top 10 Returners To The Island• Kris Moran, North Babylon
• James Burke, Port Jefferson
• Stephen Bourguet, Manhasset
• Zachary Cammer, Walt Whitman
• Patrick Ginty, St. Anthony's
• Michael Damato, Walt Whitman
• Jake Hensler, St. Anthony's
• Adam LaFemina, Bayport-Blue Point
• Sidharth Kakkar, Port Washington
• Tim McGowan, Northport
Other Potential Stars• Thomas Slattery, Chaminade
• Matt Taddeo, St. Anthony's
• Ryan Depinto, Syosset
• James Dickinson, Northport
• Sean Kelly, Chaminade
• Gunnar Nolan, Chaminade
• Tom Meehan, Eastport-South Manor
• Mike Branigan, Northport
• Chris Odin, Northport