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Five questions entering the 2012 cross country season
Don't look now, but cross country season is just around the corner. Summer runs are well underway, and it's only a matter of time before the opening gun sounds on the new season. We at Newsday will come out with our formal previews in the coming weeks, but until then here are a few questions that we look forward to seeing answered during the season (call it a preview of the preview, if you will):
1) Can Garden City finally catch North Shore?
After running away with the last four Nassau Class B titles, the honor of "best girls team in Nassau" has by and large belonged to North Shore. But this year could be different. Samantha Nadel and Brianna Nerud are gone this year, so the Vikings will rely on the one-two punch of Jessica Donohue and Elizabeth Caldwell -- who finished third and fourth in class at the state qualifier meet -- to carry the team. That could be enough for Garden City, who finished second last year, to sneak in and take the Class B crown. Jen and Stephanie Gerland were right on the heels of Caldwell and Donohue last season, and the sisters should only be better with another season under their belts.
2) Who is the top Suffolk boys runner?
Kris Moran of North Babylon ran a 16:22 at last year's state qualifier and finished 15th at the Federation meet at Bowdoin Park in a time of 16:21.3. Whitman's Michael Damato was the highest-placing runner from Suffolk at the state meet in Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School (17:24), and teammate Zach Cammer was the top Suffolk runner at Nike New York Cross Regional meet at Bowdoin Park (16:44.1). Moran, Damato and Cammer are all entering their senior seasons, and they could each end their cross country careers with a bang.
3) Will St. Anthony's four-peat?
The Friars have won the CHSAA Intersectional title every year since 2009, and will look to seniors Patrick Ginty and Jake Hensler to step up and lead the team. As always, though it will be a close battle with Chaminade -- two of St. Anthony's three Intersectional titles were won by a two-point margin.
4) Can Northport return to the top of Suffolk girls Class A?
The Tigers' quest for a Suffolk Class A three-peat fell just short last year, but they'll return nearly all of their top five runners and enter the season as a heavy favorite to make it three championships in four years. Brigid Brennan has the fastest 5K time among returning Suffolk girls, and sophomore Victoria D'Amato took fourth overall at state qualifiers.
5) Will Stephen Bourguet make it two in a row in Nassau?
Bourguet was the top finisher in last year's state qualifier meet at Bethpage, winning in 16:04.2. If the Manhasset senior can follow that up with another victory, he would be the first to win back-to-back Nassau overall crowns since Marco Bertolotti did it for Port Washington in 2008-09.