Meet the athletes who made it onto Newsday's All-Long Island boys cross country team for the 2014 season.
Runner of the Year
A major component to success in any sport is the ability to move past momentary disappointments and focus on the next challenge. No one did that better this season than Northport's Mike Brannigan, who is Newsday's Runner of the Year for the second consecutive season. The first of those minor disappointments came at the Suffolk Division Championships at Sunken Meadow State Park in mid-October. After jumping out to a commanding lead in the first 800 meters of a race that included many of the top runners on LI, Brannigan ran out of gas and finished third. Ten days later, the senior returned to Sunken Meadow to win the Class A championship at the Suffolk State Qualifier in 15 minutes, 44.98 seconds. After the victory, Brannigan said that the third-place finish at Divisions showed him that he can't blast past the field in the first mile and expect to hold that pace for the last two. "I stayed loose and relaxed, stayed with the front pack for the first mile, and then blew everyone away in the last mile and a half," Brannigan said. Setback struck again at SUNY-Canton when Brannigan finished seventh in the Class A race at the New York State Public School Championships. Brannigan, who said rough and muddy course conditions contributed to his less-than-desired finish, came back in a big way the following week. Brannigan won the New York State Federation Championship in 15:30.4 at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls. For a runner who had come so close at the Public School Championships in 2013 (losing by less than one second), a cross country title in his final state sanctioned race was an ending nothing short of storybook. "I felt bad I didn't win that \[public school\] state title," Brannigan said after the Federation Championships. "But, I'm on a higher level now....I trained for this the whole season. It was my focus." And, despite some minor bumps in the road, that focus was never lost.
Nassau Runner of the Year
Italiano won the Nassau Class A championship in 16:25.62 and placed seventh at the State Federation Championship in 15:49.3.
St. Anthony's, Jr.
Buckholtz finished the State Federation Championship in 16:15.4, good for 20th. He was second at the CHSAA league championship in 16:36.35.
Hadity won the Suffolk Division title in 16:32.15. He finished 23rd at the State Federation Championship in 16:17.5.
St. Anthony's, Sr
Tucker won the 2.5-mile CHSAA Intersectional Championship in 12:24.09, a meet record. He was third at the State Federation Championship in 15:42.7.
Coach of the Year