So the Fayetteville-Manlius girls cross country machine fires up again, ready to pursue more sectional, state and national titles all the way into December.
Such has become the annual routine for head coach Bill Aris and his Hornets. Every year from 2006 to 2010, F-M has won the Nike Nationals in Portland, Ore., on the heels of cruising to Section III and state titles.
And the Hornets are heavily favored to repeat at every level in 2011. Of last year’s top seven runners, only Courtney Chapman, now a standout at two-time NCAA champion Villanova, has departed. Everyone else – Christie Rutledge, Jillian Fanning, Katie Sischo, Heather Martin, Katie Brislin and Emily McGurrin - returns, as does Maggie Malone, Leah Monsour and Alana Pearl.
Also, the F-M boys cross country team is defending its sectional AA title and vying for higher honors, as Nick Ryan, Ben Thomas and Jules Wellner lead the returning cast.
The Hornets’ first big showcase would come Saturday at the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Invitational, where it won both overall competitions against more than 100 fellow teams on the same course where the state championships will get run in mid-November.
Running in the Varsity 1 event, F-M's girls had 16 of the top 19 finishers. That included Fanning, who in 18 minutes, 5.2 seconds posted the fastest time of the entire day, just 4.2 seconds ahead of West Genesee's Laura Leff.
Two other F-M veterans, Rutledge (18:23.2) and Sischo (18:44.8), finished behind Fanning, with freshman Annika Avery making a big impression after her transition from soccer as she ran to fourth place in 18:48.1. Brislin (19:10.3), Jenna Farrell (19:11.0), Hannah Smith (19:19.2) and Martin (19:24.6) rounded out a top-eight sweep of Varsity 1, while Maggie Malone was 10th in 20:02.9.
F-M's boys team had 91 points for the overall title, and took full command of the Varsity I race with 23 points, far ahead of runner-up Ithaca (96 points) and the other 15 entrants.