Sunshine and warm temperatures provided an unexpected autumn treat to the thousands of cross country runners gathered for Sunday's Manhattan Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
What was expected, though, was the high standard Fayetteville-Manlius set on the girls side, as the five-time defending national champions again claimed the top spot in the massive meet's main event, the Eastern States race.
F-M, running as Fayetteville in this event, posted 45 points, well clear of Tatnall, who was second with 83 points. North Shore took third place with 105 points.
And it was junior Jillian Fanning that led the Hornets' charge. On the 2.5-mile Van Cortlandt course (shorter than the conventional 3.1-mile distance for most cross country races), Fanning blazed to victory in 14 minutes, 3.8 seconds, nearly 18 seconds ahead of North Shore's Brianna Nerud (14:22.6), who was the runner-up.
Senior Katie Sischo worked her way to sixth place, in 14:41.8. Freshman Annika Avery's breakout season continued as she rose to eighth place in 14:49 flat, while senior Heather Martin was 12th in 15:06.3.
Another fast-rising runner, junior Hannah Smith, finished in 18th place in 15:15.6 to round out the scoring column. Sophomore Alana Pearl claimed 22nd place (15:27.0), just ahead of junior Katie Brislin, who was 24th in 15:32.5.
Meanwhile, in the boys Eastern State race at the Manhattan Invitational, F-M, who tops the state Class A rankings, finished second behind the New Jersey branch of Christian Brothers Academy. The Hornets had 108 points, while New Jersey CBA won with 60 points, placing all five of its best runners within the top 25.
F-M junior Nick Ryan worked his way to fifth place in 12 minutes, 50.20 seconds, and senior Matt Deyo impressed by taking eighth place in 12:55 flat.
Freshman Bryce Millar was 21st, in 13:15.43, while senior Ben Thomas gained 29th place in 13:24.26. Junior Connor Farrell, in a clocking of 13:30.29, earned 40th place, with senior Jules Wellner 45h in 13:31.95 and junior Colin Fitzgibbons (13:59.19) in 82nd.
Other local teams joined F-M at the Manhattan meet. Best among them was CBA's Brendan Smith, who won the Varsity D race in 12 minutes, 50.99 seconds, beating Milburn's Blake Udland by 5.38 seconds. In the Varsity B race, East Syracuse-Minoa's Mike Coogan finished 15th, in 13:39.77, with Joe Coogan 37th in 14:18.22.
Moving to the girls side, CBA's Megan Pierce claimed 15th place in the Varsity E race in 16:33.5, two spots ahead of teammate Maire-Kate McGlynn (16:38.9) in 17th place.