OCIAA Championship 2022

Justin DePierro | Confluence Running – Hudson Valley 

1000+ Race Photos from Varsity Races

If you are not sure what the sport of cross country is all about, take a lunch trip to Bear Mountain State Park on the 3rd Friday in October every year. There you will find 100s of young athletes jogging around, doing stretches and skips, laughing, dancing, singing, creating plenty abuzz before one of the biggest, and historically fastest, races of the season: the OCIAA Championship.

The race itself takes all the teams, big and small, in the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association and puts them all on the starting line to the side of the Bear Mountain Carousel on the locally renowned 3 mile course. After the mad dash at the start, runners seemingly sprint alongside the path around Hessian Lake before approaching “the Hill” (the name of which was around way before the Strava Segment) around the 1.5 mile mark. Following the steep climb, descent, and negotiations with higher powers, the runners make one more out and back to the right side of the lake just to wind back up along the ice rink and around the carousel for the final kick down the finishing chute.

The day is separated into 4 races, the Boys and Girls Varsity race, where the champions will be crowned, and a boys and girls exhibition race. Seven runners are allowed for each school in the varsity races, with the top 5 scoring, lowest score wins (determined by the added individual placings within the race). Every teammate is important and team titles have been commonly won within the final 150m kick.

The Boys Race was a tale of 2 veteran State Contending teams. Tri-Valley is the returning Class D State Champion led by the Furman brothers, senior Adam and sophomore Van. Monroe-Woodbury is the returning county champion who brought back the majority of their top 7 including a pair of speedy Collins, Collin Gilstrap and Collin Catherwood. Before the Hill, Adam and the Crusader Collins broke away from the field as Van ran in the 4th spot. The three at the front battled to the end, where Adam Furman created separation approaching the Carousel. Furman would gut out a 14:57 performance, the first sub 15:00 on the course in 20 years and 17th all time. Gillstrap (2nd) and Catherwood (3rd) would lead the Crusaders to another County Championship for Monroe-Woodbury.

The Girls varsity championship was highlighted by Cornwall Senior, Karrie Baloga. Karrie is a top ranked national recruit who is committed to the storied University of Colorado program next fall and coming off a recent Eastern States victory at the Manhattan Invitational. Completing the opening lake loop, Baloga, running on her island in front, was clearly going for a special time today. Behind her, the team race was being decided by her Cornwall teammates and the Lady Crusaders of Monroe-Woodbury. Karrie would cross the line #3 all time at Bear Mountain in 16:33, only behind the current NCAA 5K Champion from North Rockland Katelyn Touhy and Cornwall legend Aisling Cuffe. The Green Dragons would go on to win a tight race against the Crusaders with Juniors Sophia Semo (4th) and Kerry Murphy (6th) running strong races. Monroe’s squad was led by 8th grader Olivia Heim who placed 5th in the varsity race, so watch out in the coming years for a young and hungry Monroe-Woodbury girls team! More on that later.

Looking ahead, OCIAA gets a short bye week before the Section 9 Championship returns to Bear Mountain on November 2nd. There, with schools from the Mid-Hudson Athleticn League (MHAL) will battle to determine who will represent Section 9 at the NYS Championship at Vernon-Verona Sherril HS in Verona, NY.

Cool down thoughts

Small School Success

Boys Tri-Valley take 2nd and James I. O'Neill Girls run for 3rd. These are schools in class D and Class C respectively, throwing it down with schools with 4-5x their population. Credit to their coaches and athletes for putting together these great programs.

Hometown heroes

Goshen boys get 3rd in team scoring behind a strong run by senior Caleb Ayau (6th) and place another 2 in the top 20 with sophomores Noah Klugman (12th) and Kiran Foster (17th). We saw these boys putting in miles this Summer in our neighborhood, and the results are showing. 

Freshmen in the Fire

Here’s something we love: the freshmen stepping up and showing out. In the top 50 of the Varsity Races there were 13 Freshmen/8th grade girls and 4 Freshman/8th grade boys. We wish all these young runners continued success on their long journey ahead of them!

Confluence Running Pick

We’re all about the James I. O’Neill Boys rocking the Goodr Glasses across the board. We can’t deny the swag and we support this movement.

Spikes or flats or Super Shoes?

I’ve asked probably 100s of athletes and coaches this season about their footwear choice at Bear Mountain. With a large amount of the course being pavement, I can see where a road racing shoe can be of tremendous benefit. I’d be interested in doing a deep dive on this in the future as plated performance racing shoes become more and more accessible. I didn’t see a clear-cut favorite, nor do I think whatever option would have shaken up the top of the results. What shoes did you race in at Bear Mountain?

More High School running Coverage

You kids may not know it, but we’re watching. We love when you all show up to the local 5k in the summer. We love to hear about our former schools and who’s running fast. We love to hear about the up and comers breaking our school records.

We want to know more about your XC and Track & Field experiences. So OPEN INVITATION. If you, or your coach, or your teammates want to tell a story, or want us to pop up at practice, or invitational, you let me know. We want to hear what you have to say. Email me at justin@confluencerunning.com and as always let us know how we can help you and your team succeed at your next race!

October 22, 2022 — Justin D

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