A few hours after doing what a few months ago would probably have been unthinkable and earning a very hard-to-come-by spot Saturday in the upcoming Nike Cross Nationals championships in Portland, Oregon, Panas senior Bobby Mayclim finished talking to some college coaches who’d called with congratulations and, of course, with the hope Mayclim will ultimately decide to run for them.
It seems that if you medal at the state public large-school championship one week, better that performance the next in medaling against public and private school runners from schools of all sizes across the state, then qualify the next week for nationals, college coaches take note.
Mayclim, who at times last year was either too sick or too injured or too both to compete, is still less than 100%. It just turns out that, even so, he's still much better than most high school runners in the state.
The Lakeland/Panas athlete clocked 16:26.5 over the challenging, 3.1-mile course at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls to finish fourth Saturday out of a field of 206 boys at the Nike Cross Regionals New York championships.
Members of the top two finishing teams and the top five individuals not on those teams all earned slots to compete in Portland this coming Saturday.
The boys regional New York regional title went to University of Pittsburgh-commit Nolan McGuinn, a senior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School.
McGuinn, who won the state large-school title Nov. 11 in Verona in a race in which Mayclim finished ninth, crossed the finish Saturday in 15:57.8.
Bay Shore’s Jake Gogarty, who's committed to compete for Siena College, another Division I running program, was second in 16:20.2 and junior Shane Golio of team-champion Monroe-Woodbury was third (16:23.6).
Mayclim, the only Section 1 runner to qualify from either the boys or girls race, did so by passing six runners in the last 700 meters.
“My goal was just to have fun and give it my all,” he said … “It was like a back-and-forth kind of race. I knew if I saved enough, I’d have a pretty good finish. I knew it was going to come down to the end. That actually made me find the other gear I had.”
“With all the adversity I’ve faced, given my health, it’s something special and I’m grateful for,” he said.
Looking back at the last year, he said, “I definitely didn’t see this coming at all. I’m still speechless.”
Mayclim, who’ll fly out Thursday for Saturday’s race, called competing at nationals a “really cool opportunity,” noting he’s excited for the “whole atmosphere.”
That will include getting to know or better know others who’ll run from the New York contingent, including seven from Section 9’s Monroe-Woodbury.
Monroe-Woodbury captured the 22-squad team title by just two points over Auburn, which, as runner-up, will also compete at nationals.
While the Crusaders also took the team title a week earlier on the same course at the New York Federation (all schools) championship, it was far from a given they would be able to win Saturday’s Nike regional title.
Monroe-Woodbury head coach Matt Hemmer noted while 31 teams competed in the Fed, some top teams declined, choosing instead to save themselves for the Nike regional.
Even before his team and Auburn, which also was in the Fed, beat those teams, he considered the strategy flawed, noting since Nike began in 2007, only three times has a team that didn’t compete in the Fed advanced to Nike Cross Nationals.
And Hemmer ventured that Auburn, which he called “considerably improved” over the prior week, having knocked off more than 50 places from its earlier finish, had benefitted from running Bowdoin on consecutive weeks.
While the Fed win was the second consecutive for the Crusaders, its Nike regional win was a first and this will be the first time Monroe-Woodbury competes in a cross-country nationals as a team.
As it will do with all qualifiers, Nike will pay for the Crusaders’ seven runners and Hemmer to make the trip, Hemmer said. He noted assistant Chuck McCaffrey will also go.
Besides Golio, Oliver Jibb (eighth place, 16:31.1), Gavin Catherwood (30th, 16:52.5), Devon Ryan (36th, 16:58.6), Ronaldo Rodriguez Perez (75th, 17:31.5), Vincent Costello (103rd, 17:54.3) and Jason Saldanha (140th, 18:27.4) are slated to make the trip west.
Hemmer said Golio had “run outstanding.”
But Jibb, who has been the Crusaders top runner this season, also played a key role in the win.
He finished ahead of Auburn’s top finisher, Ryan Maher, by just .5 of a second. Had the order been reversed, the teams would have tied in points and a tie-breaker would have been conducted. That would have boiled down to how well each team’s fifth finisher had placed. If that had occurred, Auburn would have won, Hemmer noted.
Hemmer, who’ll be making his first trip to nationals, indicated his team will compete with no specific expectations.
He pointed out that last year one of his runners, Collin Gilstrap, now a freshman runner at D-I Stony Brook, qualified for and competed at Nike Cross Nationals.
The hope was he could finish top-40 but he finished 19th, Hemmer said, noting the state's top-finishing team, Corning, was 10th out of 22 squads.
Hemmer said he wants his team to approach the race “nice and relaxed, do their job and race to our level.”
Other regional finishes
While his placement wasn't good enough to qualify for Oregon, the Horace Greeley freshman, Ryan Sykes, served notice that may not be the case for long.
Sykes clocked 16:34.2 for 11th place. That time time was more than eight seconds faster than he ran the course during the previous week's Federation meet.
Other Hudson Valley athletes competing in the boys division Saturday also fell short qualifying finishes.
The Section 9 Pine Plains squad, running under the name Stissing Mountain, was 11th out of 22 teams.
Section 1 Arlington was 14thand Section 9 Mount was 18th.
Stissing’s best finisher was Maxwell Decker (63rd, 17:22.5).
Arlington’s top runner was Ethan Green, who finished third in the Fed although ill. Saturday, Green, who was enjoying a fine senior season, was well off peak performance. He finished 87th in 17:41.8, more than a minute and 22 seconds behind his Fed time.
Mount’s No. 1 finisher was Donovan Baird (78th, 17:33.6).
Ketcham's Kowalczyk 11th in girls race
Seventeen teams and 153 runners overall participated in the girls race,
Emily Bush of Saratoga Springs (competing under the team name Kinetic) finished in 18:09.5 for the win.
Her squad also won the team competition with Elm Avenue AC (Bethlehem Central High) second.
The top local girls finisher was Ketcham junior Abby Kowalcyzk (11th place, 19:14.7).
No Section 1 girls teams competed.
Section 9’s Mount Academy, whose best finisher was Jenaya Swinger (65th, 20:53.5,) was 12th among the girls teams.
Nancy Haggerty covers cross-country, track & field, field hockey, skiing, ice hockey, basketball, girls lacrosse and other sporting events for The Journal News/lohud. Follow her on Twitter at @HaggertyNancy.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Nike X-C: Lakeland/Panas's Mayclim, Monroe-Woodbury heading to Oregon