Beware of the Tigers.
While Suffolk boasts an eclectic stable of individual talent, perhaps no team is as well balanced and experienced as Northport. The group dominated the county last year, taking first in Division I and finishing third in the Class A race at the state championship meet.
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That prowess can be expected once again. Junior Mike Brannigan returns after an impressive showing in both cross country and track and field. Brannigan won last year's Division I race in 15 minutes, 56.30 seconds. Tim McGowan, a senior, finished second in the same race in 16:11.10.
Northport took five of the first six places in last year's Division I race. Three of those five -- Brannigan, Tim McGowan, and Jack McGowan -- will be back on the course for coach Jason Strom. That spells trouble for teams looking to mount a tiger chase this fall.
SUFFOLKWhitman returns as the defending Division II champion. Ryan Gioe, Josh Roiland, and Shamar Powell will look to continue the program's success.
Eastport-South Manor, the returning Division III champion, is anchored by Tom Meehan. Meehan won the Division III race in 16:33.50. He has run a 16:33 5k time and a 15:53 three-mile time at Sunken Meadow State Park.
Ryan Udvadia will anchor Shoreham-Wading River's quest for a repeat in Division IV. Udvadia won the Division IV race last season in 15:57.10. Matt Gladysz and Keith Steinbrecher also return.
NASSAUSyosset will be strong again. Ryan DePinto is the top returning finisher from the Conference I meet, running a 16:31.3. Tyler Italiano and Simon Nwana also return.
North Shore, a force in Conference III, returns Travis Laderer as its top runner. He ran a 17:10 in the Conference championship race last year. Dylan Smith, who ran 17:35 last year and Peter Dayre, who clocked a 17:59 last season, will also help the Vikings in their quest for a third consecutive conference championship.
St. Anthony's and Chaminade will write yet another chapter to this excellent Catholic school rivalry.
St. Anthony's is looking for its fifth consecutive intersectional title. The Friars are the only team to win more than three consecutive intersectional titles since Bishop Loughlin in the 1940s, according to coach Tim Dearie.
Twins Patrick and Joseph Tucker were two of the best sophomores in the state last season. A year older and wiser make this duo very dynamic. Patrick Tucker ran a 13:15.17 in the 2.5-mile intersectional race. Joseph Tucker ran 13:17.46 in the same race.
According to Dearie, the Tucker twins may not even be the Friars' top runners this season. That honor could belong to Louis Santelli. Santelli ran a 13:12.34 at the intersectional championship last year.
Chaminade has two of the best distance runners on L.I. back in red and yellow. Senior Thomas Slattery is the top returning finisher from last year's Intersectional championship, finishing in 12:52.76. He finished second at last year's state Federation Championship, completing the 5k in 16:06.9.
Sean Kelly, also a senior, finished fourth in the Federation race, running a 16:17. He also finished third in the Intersectional, finishing the 2.5-mile race in 12:58.65.
While Slattery excels at keeping a strong pace throughout the race, Kelly relies on his kick to leapfrog opponents at the end of races.
Gunnar Nolan completes the strong Flyer trifecta. Nolan, only a junior, ran a 13:19 at the Manhattan Invitational and combines both strength and speed to surge toward the front.