Lower Hudson Valley Girls' Preview
There is a sense of mystery and history in the Lower Hudson Valley as the cross country season approaches.
The longest sectional winning streak in the state is held by the Pearl River girls' cross country team, a streak which began when Jimmy Carter occupied the White House. But that 33-year streak — dating back to when Rockland County was part of Section 9 — is in jeopardy. Pre-season rankings have Nanuet a slight favorite to take down Pearl River.
All of those sectional victories have come at Coach Dan Doherty's direction. Nanuet is led by Sherri Dempsey, who ran for Nanuet and competed against those strong Pearl River squads. Will history be made at Bowdoin Park come November 2?
But that isn't really the biggest question out of the Valley, which is whether or not Mary Cain will be running for Bronxville High School this fall?
But let's stay away from that hot-button topic for a minute. Whether she runs for her school or independently all eyes will be on her. Last year she placed sixth at Nike Cross Nationals. With the year she had — which concluded with a 4:11.01 to take sixth at World Junior Championships 1,500-meter run — she'll be one of the favorites to win the Foot Locker National title. If she runs on the high school circuit — like Edward Cheserek last fall — she'll be chasing course records weekly. Here are the picks:
Lower Hudson Valley Girls' Pre-Season Top Five
1. Bronxville (Westchester County — Section 1)With or without Cain, Bronxville will be one of the best teams in New York State. With her the Broncos have a chance to qualify for Nike Cross Nationals. Without her they are a team very capable of winning yet another Class C state title. Meredith Rizzo is back to lead this squad and she has one heck of a supporting cast. Coach Jim Mitchell will have his Broncos ready to hold off Skaneatles at the state meet on November 10.
2. Suffern (Rockland County — Section 1)The Mounties return six of seven from last year's squad which took second at Sectionals, just three points behind North Rockland. With Kate Zendell and Ursula Svoboda back to lead the team. The question is not about Suffern's top end — it's about how far up it can pull the 3-4-5 runners. Based on what the Mounties did on the track, it looks like Suffern is the Class A team to beat.
3. Valley Central (Orange County — Section 9)The Vikings bring back their entire team from last year after placing a close third at Sectionals. With 69 points, Valley Central was just behind Monroe-Woodbury (56) and Warwick Valley (63), each of whom lost three girls to graduation. But both M-W and Warwick discovered some new girls on the track. But Valley Central's Holly Cavaluzzo should give the Vikings the advantage up front, where every battle begins.
4. Arlington (Dutchess County — Section 1)The Admirals were third last year at Sectionals and return just four of the top seven from that team. But Cleveland Delphi has taken to another level since running 4:35 in the 1,500 meters this spring. If she can run with the two Suffern girls, and their pack can move up, Arlington might make this race interesting.
5. Nanuet (Rockland County — Section 1)Nanuet has now been very good for a long time., But Coach Sherri Dempsey has not been able to win that Sectional title though — mainly because no one has been able to beat Pearl River since 1978. The question is: Can Nanuet forget about all that history and just try to beat this Pearl River team?
Keep An Eye OnWarwick Valley (Orange County — Sec. 9)
Monroe Woodbury (Orange County — Sec. 9)
Pearl River (Rockland County — Sec. 1)
Cornwall (Orange County — Sec. 9)
Girls' Top 10 Returners To The Valley• Mary Cain, Bronxville
• Gianna Frontera, Newburgh
• Holly Cavaluzzo, Valley Central
• Arianna Bottalico, Brewster
• Kate Zendell, Suffern
• Meredith Rizzo, Bronxville
• Natalie Tanner, Rye Neck
• Emily Waligurski, Onteora
• Kristen Borriello, Valley Central
• Megan Young, Nanuet
• Kelly Hayes, Pearl River
Other Potential Stars• Delphi Cleveland, Arlington
• Katie Fitzgerald, Warwick Valley
• Marykate O'Meara, Nanuet
• Ursula Svoboda, Suffern
• Claire Gomba, John jay EF
• Emily Hoffer, Bronxville
• Courtney Campbell, Bronxville
• Ashley Wallace, Cornwall
• Erin Joskot, Tappan Zee
• Kameron McIntosh, Suffern
• Bella Burda, Arlington
• Megan Reilly, Warwick Valley
• Darby Ginley, Warwick Valley