Two years ago, Trumansburg’s boys cross country team won the Section 4 Class C championship and advanced to the state meet.
The Blue Raider girls thought, “Hey, that looks like fun,” so last year, they won sectionals and competed at states.
This year, competing in Class D, Coach Larry Glanton’s boys and Bryce DeSantis’ girls decided, “This time, let’s both go.” So they are.
It wasn’t quite that simple, of course, but Trumansburg is sending both of its varsity squads to SUNY Canton for Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships. The action is scheduled to begin with the girls’ Class D race at 9 a.m., to be followed in half-hour intervals by the girls’ A, B and C races.
At 11 a.m. will be the boys D race, to be followed in 25-minute intervals by the A, B and C races.
In addition to both Trumansburg teams, several individuals from area schools will take part in the annual championship meet. Ithaca High will be sending three boys and three girls, including Section 4 Class A individual boys’ champion Dan Dracup, and Lansing will be sending senior Ben Eisenhut, who switched from soccer to cross country this year and won the Class C sectional crown.
Newark Valley’s boys team is representing Section 4, and its girls finished second but is sending three individuals to states, and Candor’s Julia Russell won the girls’ D race and is going to Canton. Each section sends its team champion plus the five fastest runners from non-title teams.
Trumansburg’s boys’ team has been led by freshman phenom Evan Whittaker, who placed second to Elmira Notre Dame’s Garrett Butters at sectionals and is ranked 12th in the state speed ratings index, which gives each runner a point value based on performances throughout the season.
His rise to the top of the Blue Raiders’ pack hasn’t been too much of a surprise to long-time boys’ coach Glanton.
“I coached him last spring as an eighth-grader, and he wanted to come up (to varsity),” Glanton said. “All parties thought it was the best thing for him, and it really was. I don’t think he would have been challenged often at the modified level. think he saw a lot of growth in the spring, and he trained all summer.”
He’s leading the team on the course, but still leaves the vocal leadership to veteran teammates like junior Ben Pesco and senior Will Westlake.
“Evan’s a hard worker, he’s humble and he’s really easy to work with,” Glanton said. “He defers a little bit to the older guys, and that’s OK. I like his humility and his openness. He’s where he needs to be right now.”
On the girls’ side, Trumansburg had just one runner finish in the top 10 at sectionals but put its five scorers in the top 21 to top Seton Catholic Central. The Raiders were led by junior Megan McIntyre, who finished ninth.
“They’re very tight,” DeSantis said. “They train together, and with the loss of Maeve Gurche (No. 1 last year; injured early this season), we had to rely on a great pack. Megan McIntyre has really taken that lead role and done a great job with that.”
Both T-burg teams are entering the meet with realistic expectations — finish ahead of the projections (tullyrunners.com) that have the boys seventh and the girls ninth.
“There are teams that are a bit ahead of us, and these guys are smart,” Glanton said. “They know that if I go in and tell them we have a chance at winning this, they’re going to think my nose has been too close to the glue bottle. I try and pick something realistic … so we decided, ‘Let’s finish better than seventh.’”
This is the first year Trumansburg has sent both of its teams to states, and the first time in more than 20 years that it’s competing as a Class D school.
And both teams feature just one senior in the top seven, which bodes well for the future.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Glanton, who’s been at Trumansburg since 1986. “I think the program’s on pretty good footing, and if you go down to our modified level, we’ve got a couple of coaches (Rob Reakkes and Todd Robinson) and those guys are the pied pipers. They’ve got 30 kids in modified.”
The coaches said the team was scheduled to parade through the elementary school early Friday morning, then get another send-off at the high school bus circle before departing for Canton at around 8:15 a.m.
CLASS A: Ithaca coach Rich Bernstein said senior Dracup, who this season won his third straight STAC title and second straight Section 4 crown, is aiming high this weekend. He’s fifth in the Class A speed ratings; the field will likely be chasing Fayetteville-Manlius’ Bryce Millar and Northport’s Mike Brannigan, who are rated 1-2.
“He’s going to go out with the leaders and see where it goes,” Bernstein said. “He’s in the best shape of his life. He’s looking really good, really smooth, and he likes bad weather. We’re hoping it works to our advantage.”
Snow and rain are in the forecast for Friday, with the temperature expected to be in the low 40s on Saturday.
Ithaca is also sending sophomore Jake Avery and junior Hunter Hartshorne. The girls’ trio features senior Lauren Trumble, who placed fourth at sectionals and is making her fourth trip to states, along freshman Lizzy Rayle and junior Sylvia Frank.
NYSPHSAA CROSS COUNTRY
WHERE: SUNY Canton
SCHEDULE: Girls — Class D, 9 a.m.; Class A, 9:30; Class B, 10; Class C, 10:30; Boys — Class D, 11; Class A, 11:25; Class B, 11:50; Class C, 12:15 p.m.
ADMISSION: $10 per car