Lower Hudson Valley Boys' Preview
Arlington is the power in the Lower Hudson. In fact, Bill Meylan of Tully Runners has the Admirals ranked second in New York State, nearly even with Fayetteville-Manlius.
But Coach Steve Arnett isn't too concerned with numbers. "I think those type of things are important in that you need to be at least in the conversation," Arnett told Kyle Brazeil of Milesplit. "If you are on that list, no matter what number, you know you are doing something right. At the same time, the order doesn't concern me. We are going to run as hard as we can, no matter what the rankings say."
Pawling also has the luxury not to concern itself with polls. Tully Runners has the Tigers holding down the top spot in Class C, but they will be more focused on winning the N.Y. State Championship after coming up two points short last fall.
How about the Section 9 Class B boys race? Last year Port Jervis lost to New Paltz, 55-56, with team made up entirely of ninth and 10th graders. New Paltz brings back most of its squad too, so this could be another nailbiter. Here are the picks:
Lower Hudson Valley Boys' Pre-Season Top Five
1. Arlington (Dutchess County — Section 1)The Admirals only lose two scorers from a squad which averaged 16:50 at Bowdoin Park a year ago. With Sibby Hanson up front and some strong backup, Arlington should make a run at both a state title and a Nike Cross invite. Historically this team comes out of the gate very quickly, so we should have an idea about how good Coach Steve Arnett's team is going to be by mid-September.
2. Warwick Valley (Orange County — Section 9)Warwick brings back two very good runners — Grant Parelli and Aaron Peterson — but the Wildcats are probably in the second pack of teams in N.Y. State right now. Coach Mike Potter's charges came on late last year and — with some newcomers to the varsity squad — look for that to be the case again. Since 1998, Warwick is the only team outside of Sections 2 and 3 to win the Class A State Championship, a feat it accomplished in 2007.
3. North Rockland (Rockland County — Section 1)According to Coach Barry Baloga, the Red Raiders are the deepest they've been in 10 years. Led by Damian Feeney, Liam Purdy and Asaad Jeffrey, North Rockland will be hard pressed to run down Arlington, though one should never doubt an upset possible by a Baloga-coached team. The Red Raiders will be the favorites to win the Rockland County title which will give them local bragging rights. Anyone who knows anything about Rockland County knows the importance of that title.
4. Carmel (Putnam County — Section 1)The Lower Hudson Valley seems to be lacking depth this year, but Carmel just might have the best 1-2 punch. The Rams don't have great depth, but with Eric Holt and Benito Muniz out front they should have an elite pair that few teams can match. If they can just get that back end up a bit, they could find themselves as the fourth-best area squad.
5 (tie). Port Jervis (Orange County — Section 9)The Raiders — featuring four sophomores, three freshman and a senior seventh man — lost a tough one-pointer to New Paltz last fall at sectionals. Kobie Lane is back for his sophomore season to lead the squad after running 16:59 at Bear Mountain as a freshman. With just 23 seconds from No. 1 to No. 5 a year ago, all Port Jervis has to do is move that pack up a bit and it'll jump up the leaderboard.
5 (tie). Pearl River (Rockland County — Section 1)Section 1 Class B was rocked by graduation at the end of the year as Pearl River, Brewster and Somers were all hit hard. The Pirates should be led by Brian Cook as they attempt to defend their Class title from last year.
5 (tie). Tappan Zee (Rockland County — Section 1)Joe Dinan is back to lead this squad but watch out for Luke Gavigan, who ran 4:20 for 1,600 meters as a freshman last spring. The Dutchmen haven't won a sectional title since 2002. That year they also won the New York State Class B crown.
5 (tie). New Paltz (Ulster County — Section 9)With two top dogs leading the way — Alfredo Mazzuca and David Busby — it will be great to watch New Paltz try hold off a tough Port Jervis squad. With arguably some of the best trails in the country on which to train, New Paltz should once again be one the state's best.
Boys' Top 10 Returners To The Valley• Sebastian Hanson, Arlington
• Eric Holt, Carmel
• Stephen Shine, Briarcliff
• Alex Campanella, Eldred
• Alfredo Mazzuca, New Paltz
• Grant Parelli, Warwick Valley
• Aaron Peterson, Warwick Valley
• Aaron Ryley, Arlington
• Benito Muniz, Carmel
• Joe Dinan, Tappan Zee
Other Potential Stars• Liam Purdy, North Rockland
• Justin Zorn, Somers
• David Busby, New Paltz
• Matt Jorgensen, Pawling
• John Flaherty, Bronxville
• Luke Gavigan, Tappan Zee
• Cullin Burdett, North Salem
• Brian Cook, Pearl River
• Alex Shodai, Middletown
• Vincent Vasquez, North Rockland