SYRACUSE - The start of the 2012-13 school year is still more than a month away, but a tip of the cap to New York State Sportswriters Association girls cross country editor Dan Doherty and TullyRunners.com's Bill Meylan for their comprehensive look at the upcoming season.
Here are a few nuggets gleaned from Doherty's and Meylan's splendid work. Not surprisingly, the western Southern Tier receives plenty of props.
There are three returning first-team all-state runners from the area, all from Class D. They are Maple Grove freshmen Megan Marsh and Hope Pietrocarlo and Sherman junior Holly Eliason.
There are two second-team all-state selections coming back in Fredonia sophomore Lauren Reyda (Class C) and Maple Grove junior Caroline Benson (Class D).
There are four returning honorable-mention all-state runners. They are junior Michaela Tramuta (Fredonia) in Class C, and freshman Rebecca King (Sherman), junior Taylor Norris (Maple Grove) and freshman Hannah Seiders (Silver Creek) in Class D.
Doherty has listed the top 10 teams (regardless of classification) and "others to watch." Maple Grove, the two-time defending Class D champs, is the only area team listed in the latter category.
By winning the last two Class D championships, the Lady Red Dragons are all alone among Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association schools who have come away with state titles, dating to 1975.
In last year's state meet, Marsh was second, Pietrocarlo third, Caroline Benson 12th, Norris 23rd, Katelyn Benson 29th, Stephanie Krempa 57th and Abby Sirwatka 76th. All but the recently graduated Katelyn Benson return.
Reyda was seventh, Tramuta 39th, Meredith Zebraski 67th, Brittany Campaign 75th and Maitland Langworthy 84th for Fredonia among Class C schools. All will be back.
Meanwhile, Sherman's Eliason placed sixth and Silver Creek's Seiders 24th in Class D.
According to Meylan's preseason rankings, Maple Grove is No. 2 behind Greenwich in Class D. Although the Lady Red Dragons have won the last two state titles, Greenwich, which finished a close second to Bronxville in Class C last year, drops to Class D this fall. Both schools return their top four runners.
In considering all schools, regardless of classification, Meylan has Maple Grove projected 24th in the state and Greenwich seventh. They are the only Class D schools in the top 30.
"Remember,'' said Meylan on his TullyRunners.com site, "this list is just an informational starting point. A lot can change between mid-July and November."