2014 champions: Last year’s team champions were Williamsville North (Class A), Sweet Home (Class B), East Aurora (Class C), Barker (Class D) and St. Joe’s (Monsignor Martin). East Aurora won states, Barker finished second and Sweet Home finished third for their respective classes. Vasbinder (Class C) and Odell (Class D) won Section VI championships as underclassmen last year. Vasbinder also won the individual state championship.
2014 All-WNY first-team underclassmen: Kenny Vasbinder-11 (East Aurora) last year’s boys runner of the Year; Chris Nowak-10 (Sweet Home), Peter Rindfuss-11 (Hamburg), Owen Barber-11 (Allegany-Limestone).
Other notable underclassmen: Colin Begley, an All-WNY second-teamer last year as a freshman, was named Freshman of the Year in New York State. The Williamsville North runner was the only freshman to make an All-WNY list last season, including honorable mentions. Anthony Belfatto (St. Joe’s), Matt McLaughlin (East Aurora) and Josh Odell (Clymer/Sherman/Panana) are All-WNY second-teamers going into their senior seasons. Juniors Connor Doran (Lockport) and Patrick Murray (East Aurora) made last year’s second team as sophomores. Gowanda’s Matt Kruszka was an All-WNY honorable mention as a sophomore and Liam Gallagher (Canisius), Brian Henson (East Aurora), Ryan Hetrick (Maple Grove), Liam Hilbert (St. Joe’s), Matt Mercer (Orchard Park), T.J. Murray (East Aurora) and Steve Neumaier (Lancaster) all enter their senior years off honorable mention junior seasons.
Relocked and reloaded: East Aurora, last year’s Class C state champions, returns five All-WNY selections from last year, highlighted by 2015 cross country Prep Talk Player of the Year Kenny Vasbinder. McLaughlin and Murray were All-WNY second-team selections and Henson and Murray were honorable mentions. Vasbinder’s 15:54.6 was the best time at the state championships at SUNY Canton last year.
From the coach: “This year, coming off one of the most successful track seasons in school history, our goals are very high, including duplicating our accomplishments from a year ago and improving our finish at the Nike National Qualifier Meet,” East Aurora head coach Walt McLaughlin said.
Save the dates: Williamsville North-Orchard Park- Clarence, 5 p.m. Oct. 13 at Bassett Park Course; Sweet Home at West Seneca East, 5 p.m. Sept. 22; East Aurora at Amherst, 5 p.m. Oct. 6; Barker at Wilson, 4:45 p.m. Oct. 6.
Championship time: Sectionals will start at 11 a.m. Nov. 6 at Sunshine Park in West Seneca. States will be Nov. 14 at Monroe Woodbury High School in Central Valley. The New York State Federation Meet is Nov. 21 at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.
Who’s going to be Prep Talk Player of the Year? Vasbinder is certainly the favorite to repeat for the award as a senior. Rindfuss and Nowak won’t make it easy for him. Begley, after winning New York State Freshman of the Year, also could challenge. T.J. Hornberger of Lake Shore won the award in 2014 and is running for Syracuse. This year’s Prep Talk Awards will be held Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.
Our special #PrepTalkPreview edition for fall sports will be published in The Buffalo News on Aug. 27.
It will include:
Boys cross country