BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Looking to be All-Americans with a chance to earn a national title.
That’s the situation for the members of Shenendehowa girls’ distance medley relay team heading to the March 11-13 New Balance Nationals Indoor championships at The Armory in New York City. The group of sophomore Hannah Reale plus seniors Emily Crounse, Danielle Jordan and Olivia Robbins are coming off an impressive victory at the March 1 Eastern States Championships, and will compete March 11 in a stacked field as one of the favorites.
“If you break 12 [minutes], you’re going to be on the podium — and you could be right up front,” said Shenendehowa girls’ head coach Rob Cloutier, whose team put together a 12:08.41 showing in its March 1 victory.
Top-six finishers at the upcoming event earn All-American status, and Shenendehowa will enter the DMR competition with the fourth-best time in the country this season. No. 1 North Rockland and No. 2 Mamaroneck are expected to be in the field, while local rival Saratoga Springs is also likely to contest the race with a formidable team.
Shenendehowa has reason to believe it will be able to shave seconds off its March 1 time at the national championships. When it competed at the Eastern States Championships, the Plainsmen team had a huge lead after Reale’s opening 1,200-meter leg and found itself without heavy competition to run against for the next two legs.
“Hannah, she’s looked amazing,” Cloutier said of Reale, who recorded a 3:38.2 split that was five seconds clear of the field. “Everything looks so easy for her right now.”
Following Reale was Robbins with a 400-meter sprint and Crounse with an 800-meter run. When it was Jordan’s turn, the senior had to go out hard and run on her own for much of the race. Jordan was without other runners to pace against, and a pair of opponents eventually caught up to her. The senior recovered to pick up the win.
“She figured out a way to gut it out and get the win in the homestretch,” Cloutier said. “That’s all that matters.”
Against better competition, Jordan likely won’t lack for an opponent running with her in the anchor leg of the race.
“That will definitely push us,” Jordan said. “Personally, I really didn’t like the situation I got [the baton] in last time. I don’t run as well, at my strongest, when I’m way out in front. Having people to push us, we’ll be able to stick to them and that’s what we can focus on … to help make us run even faster.”
“That’s going to help us cut at least a few seconds,” Crounse said. “We’re definitely going to have a faster time, so it’s exciting to see what we can do.”
Shenendehowa has a number of other athletes heading to the national championships, including Jill Shippee in the girls’ shot put and weight throw, and a boys’ sprint medley relay team of Mitchell Halpern, Nick Jacques, Nick Michalowski and Tyler Schmidt. Three DMR members — Crounse, Jordan and Reale — will also double up at the event to join Maddie Arserio in the 3,200-meter relay the night after the DMR.
“But the races are 24 hours apart,” Crounse said. “That works out really nicely for us.”