One of the bigger groups of local runners in recent years will be heading to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships Saturday.
A total of eight runners will compete in the various classes at Wayne High School in Section 5. Homer has senior Grant Stokoe and junior Teddy Mercer along with Cortland High junior Andy Ryan competing in the Class B Boys race at 10:30 a.m.
Stokoe was third at V-V-S last Saturday in 17:06.9, while Ryan took fourth in 17:17.2 and Mercer was sixth in 17:20.
Dryden High will be sending the trio of runners as sophomores Robert Brotherton and Spencer Strickland compete in the Class C Boys race which is first out of the starting gate at 9 a.m. while sophomore Emily Miller will compete in the Class C Girls race at 11 a.m.
Groton senior Richard Moore and Marathon junior Lucas Baker round out the group as they will compete in the Class D Boys race at 9:30 a.m.
CLASS B BOYS
This will be the first trip to the state meet in cross country for Stokoe and Mercer. Stokoe has made an indoor track and outdoor track appearance last year with Mercer making an outdoor track appearance this past spring as well.
“Both Grant and Teddy worked really hard to achieve this opportunity,” Homer coach Jim Baldwin said. “They made a commitment to qualify for the cross country state meet at the conclusion of the outdoor track season. They ran numerous miles during the pre-season summer and they both went to running camp the week prior to the start of the 2017 cross country season. They built their leg strength and endurance conservatively over the summer. They did not overdue, they did not build their mileage too quickly and instead increased their mileage slowly a week at a time. Grant was one place off qualifying for states at the 2016 Section 3 Championship at Chittenango, so I think he is really looking forward to this opportunity. Teddy is a junior and should approach this race as an excellent learning opportunity.
“Grant is predicted to finish 33rd and Teddy 69th if you look at the matrix created by www.tullyrunners.com. Both young men have trained smartly, are feeling great and are healthy. They both are motivated. They will prepare properly this week and will be excited Saturday morning. I think one of the key elements will be how do the athletes Saturday adjust to the cold temperatures, how well do they warm-up, and who got a great night’s rest Friday.”
Ryan is ranked 59th on tullyrunners.com. “Andy executed a fine (sectional) race to qualify for the state meet,” Cortland coach Matt Dearie said. “He has had a goal since he started running to be at the top of the section and beyond. It’s great that he has qualified as a junior and will get this experience.
“The state meet will be unlike any race Andy has run so far. he knows that and is excited for the challenge. His goal is to have the best race of his running career at the biggest race he will have run to date.”
CLASS D BOYS
This will be Moore’s second trip to the state meet and he is looking for a much better result. He finished 44th with a time of 17:44.9 at Chenango Valley State Park, the same course where he ran 17:08.9 last Saturday in the Section 4 Championships.
“Richard made the state meet last year as well, but he had a tough later part of his season last year falling ill to strep and never fully recovering,” Groton coach Scott Weeks said. “At Sectionals last week, he said, “that’s the first time I felt good the entire race all year.” He certainly has a different outlook on his state meet appearance this year over last. He is currently ranked 13th in Class D on the tullyrunners. com site, but I feel that he can certainly be in the top 10 if he races as well as he’s feeling. He’s a strong runner and has been committed to taking care of the little things that will give him an edge on Saturday.”
This will be Baker’s first trip to the state meet. He was fifth overall at the Section 4 Championships after he posted a time of 17:33.8. Baker is ranked 39th in the Class D on the tullyrunners. com site.
“Lucas is coming off a very good season after a solid summer of training,” Marathon coach Todd James said. “Lucas was sidelined last year toward the end of the cross country season as was unable to compete at sectional to earn potential his first trip to the state meet. Determined to meet his goal he trained diligently this summer. Throughout the season, Lucas has been getting physically stronger and his racing has progressively been improving. He hopes to continue this trend as he goes to participate in his first NYSPHSAA Championship Meet.”
CLASS C BOYS/GIRLS
Brotherton and Strickland are ranked 95th and 122nd respectively on tullyrunners.com as they prepare for their first state meet appearance. Miller is ranked 75th on tullyrunners. com as she prepares for their first state meet appearance.
Brotherton posted a sixth place time of 17:51.2 and Strickland was ninth in 17:59 while Miller took sixth place with a time of 21:21.2 in their respective Section 4 Class C races.
“We are extremely excited that three of our sophomore athletes qualified to compete at the State Championship Meet this year,” Dryden coaches Ashley Wirges and Jennifer Jones said. “Dryden’s Cross Country program was reborn in 2014 after a long hiatus. We did have our first program appearance at the State Championship in 2015 when senior Abbey Yatsko qualified, but to be able to bring three sophomores to the State Championships in only your fourth year of existence as a program really tells you something about the kind of athletes we have. These three are not afraid to put the work in, and it’s always a great feeling as coaches when athletes who are great kids actually get to benefit from the payoff of their hard work. Not only are they great athletes, they are also quality individuals. It is not uncommon to hear Spencer giving a pep talk before races and wishing other runners good luck, regardless of team. I have seen Emily give her food to others and the spikes from her flats to another runner before their race.
And an example of Bobby’s general demeanor is how four days before the Sectional Championship, he was doing community service and had a nail go through his foot, but he refused to let it stop him or to let his team down and had a great race at Sectionals. We just cannot wait to see where our program goes as we continue to grow.”