Garnets and Panthers Hit the Ground Running … Fast

Rye and Rye Neck’s cross-country teams began their 2010 campaigns September 14 at Briarcliff in dazzling fashion, emerging as the elite squads in a dual meet including the host school as well as Blind Brook and Harrison.

The Panthers edged the Garnets 34 to 38 on the boys’ side, but Rye’s top runners took three of the top five finishes. Taylor Love, a junior, won the three-mile race in a time of 19:13.9, which was a little over three seconds ahead of his senior teammate, Mason Curtis.

Taylor Love

“It was a good start for us today,” said Curtis, a State finalist one year ago who hopes to make it back come season’s end. “We moved up to Class A, but our goal is to overcome that and win our league again.”

Mason Curtis

Junior Tom Mayo-Smith rounded out Rye’s best performers, placing fifth by clocking in at 19:23.8. For the Panthers, Lucas Bucknavage led the way with a fourth-place finish (19:19.6). Rye Neck’s racers also locked down sixth thru ninth place, with Charlie Fraioli, Brendan Crawley, Sebastian Tanner, and Will Keebe all finishing within a 35-second span.

Keebe’s effort was particularly heroic. In the rough and rocky wooded portion of the course, the runner fell hard and landed square on his back.

“Will took a spill in there, but was able to get back up and push through,” said Rye Neck head coach Matthew Wurtz. “You couldn’t tell anything was wrong, and that’s just the kind of person he is. It’s also the kind of mentality this team has – we’re a small school, but we’re never intimidated. The whole group works super hard and never lets anything stand in their way.”

Boasting nearly half of the 21 competitors, the Garnet girls won with a team score of 14, way ahead of second-place Briarcliff (46). The Panthers did not score because they only ran four athletes. Nevertheless, it was a Rye Neck racer who took gold. Senior captain Kylie Van Buren was neck-and-neck with Rye’s Ellie Friedmann in the first half of the 3-mile race, but emerged from the woods with a solid lead. Her winning time of 22:08.2 put her 19 seconds in front of Friedmann’s second-place finish.

Kylie Van Buren

“Kylie has that extra gear,” said Wurtz. “She worked extremely hard in the offseason in both the weight room and at running camps. And, beside that natural ability, she also has a great work ethic and is a smart runner. She sets the tone for the entire team.”

Rye’s Alison Mackay (23:56.5), Nagomi Ogura (23:57.0), and Libby Burke (24:42.9) rounded out the top five, and Caitlin Harnett finished eighth with a time of 26:15.2. Rye Neck’s Christine Cook placed sixth (24:43.3).

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