Well, We're Movin' On Up
After a long summer of speculation and hype, the first major weekend of high school cross country has come and gone. So what did we learn? For one thing, Northport on Long Island is one of the best cross country towns in the country right now.
The Northport boys easily won the Varsity B race at the Suffern Invitational — beating runner-up Port Jervis, 21-85. The Tigers were led by Mike Branigan, who covered the fast three-mile mile course in 15:39 and held off teammate Tim McGowan who was second, two seconds back. Teammates James Dickinson and Alex Kramer were fourth and fifth and Chris Odin rounded out the scoring in ninth place. All told, the squad's top five averaged 16:04 and spread just 49 seconds.
Head Coach Jason Strom was happy with his charges in the season opener. "Training has been going well for the team," he said. "Starting back at summer camp at the end of August these guys have been pushing each other every step of the way in practice. There is a lot of competition for the top seven spots and the competitiveness tends to come out on occasion. We appear to have good team depth early on in the season which is always a plus."
Northport is now ranked second in Class A in New York State — moving up from a pre-season No. 5. With just about two months to go until the state championships and even longer until the NXN Regional, the Tigers will be biding their time.
"Our approach to this season is probably very similar to most teams at this point in time, that is to just build up and improve from week to week. Make sure we get good quality work in and try to use each competition as a learning experience for the next," Strom added.
The Northport girls have been a powerful cross country team for years under Head Coach Eric Visconti. Still this season they have had one of the strongest starts in program history. After an impressive dual meet win over Ward Melville, 19-42, last Tuesday, the Tigers' then placed second to Bronxville at the Villa Bears Classic — putting all seven runners under 17 minutes at Van Cortlandt Park.
Visconti thought his girls had a great start on Saturday. "Although very early in the season we were excited to see how we could stack up against Bronxville at this point. Bronxville is quite impressive and seems that they will be in the mix to be top-ranked national team.
"I have been excited by the performance of Brigid Brennan, who seems fit and ready for a personal best season after coming off an impressive spring track season. With senior Sarah Zieve impressive after a tough cross season last year, complemented by several hard working, competitive and capable girls, we look to climb up the state ranks and ultimately see how we stack up nationally. All this can't happen however unless the team stays healthy and strong, so a real goal is to carefully build on this early strength and maintain through November," Visconti added.
The Northport girls have a great shot to win the Section 11 Class A title and place well at the State Championships. The Tigers could even find themselves on the podium at the Federation Championships. Between the boys and the girls, there could be a lot of trophies headed to Northport this fall.