Your Guide To The Fall
The hills are about to shake with the thunder of thousands of foot strikes. Maybe not 'shake,' but the pending racket in the woods is bound to scare off a deer or two.
You see, cross country season is upon us and Armory Track has the schedule for you. It will be rather quiet through Labor Day weekend as everyone gets their last gasp of summer, but then the wild ride will begin.
One of the first meets that will provide both answers and new questions will be the Randolph Invitational, which will be run under the lights at Freedom Park in Randolph, N.J., on Friday, September 7. Last year, despite inclement weather, Mary Cain of Bronxville crushed the course record to set up an unbelievable season, which culminated this summer with her breaking the national high school 1,500-meter record by more than three seconds.
The day after the Randolph Invite, the college season also gets underway as the Fordham Fiasco brings the first weekend of college color and pageantry to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. That is the most active and most traditional cross country site in the City as it hosts the biggest events of the season — the NYC Mayor's Cup Championships (Oct. 6) and the Reebok Manhattan College High School Invitational (Oct. 13). The Mayor's Cup is focused on City supremacy while the Manhattans brings thousands of runners — perhaps as many as 8,000 — from around the East Coast.
And while it is home to the championships from the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) and the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), it is not the only place to watch young athletes develop. The PSAL's Grand Prix series will also take to the paths of Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Queens' Cunningham Park and Staten Island's Clove Lakes Park.
Perhaps the most intriguing locale will once again be provided by the athletes running with the animals at the Six Flags Wild Safari Invitational in New Jersey on Sept. 29. That same weekend is the biggest in-season college event on the East Coast schedule as hundreds of teams line up for the Brooks Paul Short Invitational (Sept. 28) on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. That meet always tells the story of teams to watch out for at the coming conference, region and national competitions.
As the days get shorter and the trick-or-treaters make an appearance, we are into championships season. The Big East Championships will be at Vanny while the Ivy Leaguers return to Princeton, where last year Heps Championships were contested in cold rain, high winds and then driving snow.
From there, perhaps the best day of the year at Van Cortlandt brings a close to the season. On Nov. 10 — while the New York State Championships are taking place at Elma Meadows Golf Course in suburban Buffalo — the three distinct New York metro championships fill the parade grounds and the 1 train is awash in high school colors.
So everyone, pace yourselves well, it is a long run!