Girls Race Summary
NTN: The Test of Teamwork
By: Maura Warren
Teeth were chattering, hearts were pounding and snow was beginning to fall again. The anticipation and suspense of the 2007 NTN Girls Championship race was visible in the eyes of every team member on the start line. This race brings a high level of competition, and even though each team has had many success stories throughout the season, no one knew how it all would end.
As a spectator, the most exciting aspect of NTN is watching how team scores change kilometer by kilometer. It was no surprise that last year's winner Manlius (Fayetteville-Manlius H.S., NY) dominated from the beginning, but the other top spots were a toss up right until the very end. After the first kilometer the top five teams were: Manlius, Kinetic (Saratoga Springs H.S., NY), Newhall (Saugus H.S., CA), Hanover (Hanover H.S., NH) and Westfield (Westfield H.S., IN). With four girls in the top ten during the first minute, Manlius seemed determined to hold onto their number one spot.
As every true cross country runner knows, a race is not won in the first kilometer, and that was very true in this race. The runners trampled through the mud and over the man-made whoop-de-do hills. After the second kilometer the top five teams were: Manlius, Hanover, Newhall, Kinetic and Caution (Mountain Brook H.S., AL). The gap was widening between Manlius and the other teams. Their score was 57 points and Hanover was eight-one points away at 138. Newhall followed at 151, Kinetic 160 and Caution 222. It was at this point in the race that Madeline Morgan (Sr., Caution) started making her move. Morgan shows a very steady, yet aggressive, racing style.
There were a few NTN participants that were successful steeplechase runners and that came to be quite helpful on this course. Hay bales are placed at two different locations on the course to serve as an additional challenge. Most runners did not seem bothered by these obstacles, but they were a factor in the team scores at the three kilometer mark. Manlius was still in first with 62 points, then Newhall at 170, Kinetic 172, Hanover 181 and Caution 207.
With such a strong and solid lead, it was apparent that Manlius was living up to their reputation. "We pay a lot of attention to detail," said Manlius junior Mackenzie Carter. "Even if it just means wearing a hat when it's cold, we make sure to pay attention to every detail to get the most out of our training," as Carter explained a reason to their continued success. The team also said unanimously that they owed all their success to their coaches (Bill and John Aris), and thanked them for all the hours they devoted to the team.
After the four kilometer the scores showed that Manlius held onto their lead with a score of 72 points. As the runners moved towards the end of the race, Newhall had 178, Hanover 189, Caution 206 and Burnt-Hills (Burnt-Hills H.S., NY) 221. Compared to the top five teams at the beginning of the race, there had been many changes, showing that NTN is about every individual on the team, down to the very last person. Bold moves made by Samantha Roecker (Jr., Burnt-Hills) and Hannah Davidson (Sr., Kinetic) helped push their teams forward.
One school that had a very emotional finish was Hanover of New Hampshire. This was their first year at NTN, and after a disappointing race last week (placing third), they were thrilled to teams with their fourth place finish. Bridgette Black and Beth Taylor both agree that, "The team races for each other and it's so exciting when a team is such good friends and we do well together."
Being the first team from your school to compete at NTN is an honor and a challenge. Amanda Winslow (Suwanee) spoke of the pride in being the pioneer team from their school, "We are very excited because this is what we worked for all season. Our goal is to work together and use each other for pacing during the race."
After the fourth kilometer scores have been shown to the crowd, the jumbo screen is turned off and the final results are a surprise. One would assume that the fourth kilometer scores would be enough to have a pretty good guess, but it's amazing how much can change in those last minutes. The final top five teams for the girl's championship race were: Manlius 83, Newhall 171, Kinetic 194, Hanover 206 and Burnt-Hills 215. New York once again lived up to their reputation of having success as a state at NTN, but this year there were other teams that challenged this status.
Madeline Morgan held onto her lead and finished first in the race with a time of 18:54. This helped Morgan's team, Caution, to finish sixth place overall. Other top finishers were: Katie Flood from Des Moines (So., Dowling Catholic H.S., IA) placed second in 19:04, Samantha Roecker (Burnt-Hills) third in 19:06, Hannah Davidson (Kinetic) fourth in 19:08 and Katherine Dunn (Sr., Newhall) fifth with a time of 19:18.