Leading off today:
The Fayetteville-Manlius girls team and runners Noah Affolder of Carthage and Jessica Lawson on Corning enjoyed outstanding days Saturday at the Manhattan Invitational in VanCortlandt Park.
F-M won the prestigious Eastern States girls race with just 50 points to leave Pennsbury (Pa.) in the dust at 125 and North Rockland was a strong third. The Hornets placed five runners in the top 15, led by Kaitlyn Neal's second-place showing of 14:04.6 for 2.5 miles for her school's second-fastest clocking ever on the course.
Lawson, a junior, won the much-anticipated race in 13:53.9 for a course record a week after seeing her McQuaid course record broken by a Canadian competitor. Aside from joining the sub-14:00 club that includes past New York stars Nicole Blood (Saratoga) and Aisling Cuffe (Cornwall), Lawson broke the 2007 course mark of Pennsylvania's Carley Seymour.
Affolder was the individual champ in the boys Eastern States race in 12:14.3 to remain unbeaten this season. Downington West from Pennsylvania earned the team championship, with Liverpool fourth and Fayetteville-Manlius fifth as the two Section 3 schools continued their back-and-forth battle this fall.
Coming off a course record a week earlier at the McQuaid invitational, Affolder won at VCP by 7.5 seconds on a very crowded course.
Quick thought: Very, very smart people speculated before the season that this could shape up as a "down" year for F-M -- keeping in mind that the Hornets' idea of a down year is wildly different from a down year another team might experience.
Based on results in the first half of the season, however, F-M clearly is shaping up to be very much in the conversation for another Nike Cross Nationals crown in Portland, Ore., in early December. If they don't quite make it that far, then you've got to love the chances of the team that trips them up.
More cross country: Ursuline senior Anna Flynn became the first runner to win four consecutive times in the Disney Cross Country Classic in Orlando, Fla. She and her freshman sister, Sarah, covered the five-kilometer course in 19:16 and 19:23, respectively, to sweep the top two sports.
Ursuline finished second in the 29-team Division 2A race held with the temperature hovering around 90 degrees at the 20th annual meet.
"It was a very good performance in oppressive conditions," Ursuline coach Jan Mitchell told The Journal News.
End of an era: Andrew Fleischman competed in the Section 5 golf qualifier Tuesday at Eagle Vale, ending his Naples High career in the sport. It also ended a run of 14 consecutive seasons in which one of the Fleischman siblings represented the school in golf.
"It's bittersweet," he told The Daily Messenger. "It's kind of like an era coming to the end."
Oldest brother Howie made the team in 2002 as a seventh-grader and played for six years, earning league player of the year honors three times. Howie's senior season was also the first year for the middle Fleischman brother, Aron.
"I'm definitely going to miss them," coach Aaron O'Rourke said. "It's a good family, they work hard, excellent students, and just good-all-around kids."