SCHENECTADY — Saturday’s Everett T. Grout Memorial Cross Country Invitational at Central Park in Schenectady will have a different look than in recent years, and include a meet record-tying bid by Shaker distance star Leonni Griffin.
Both the boys’ Division I and Division II groups, and before that the girls’ Division I and Division II groups, will run together in a streamlined format over the 2.75-mile course, though individual and team awards will still be presented for each of those divisions.
“The athletes will be pushing each other more with the bigger races,” meet director and Schenectady High School varsity cross country coach Ed Menis said. “It should be very exciting. It should be a really good competition.”
There are eight boys’ teams entered for Division I and nine more signed up to compete in Division II. There are also nine girls’ Division I teams entered, and eight Division II girls’ teams scheduled to compete.
No meet was held in 2020 due to COVID restrictions, and upon its return in 2021, there were a combined 13 boys’ Division I and II teams, and a combined seven girls’ Division I and II teams.
“We are bigger than last year, but we are still building it back up,” Menis said. “Hopefully, next year it will be even bigger.”
Menis said the meet would likely return to its previous format of two Division I races and two Division II races “If we can get somewhere in the range of 22 to 24 schools.”
Saturday’s girls’ DI-II race will see Griffin going after her fourth Grout individual title which would tie the record first set by Caitlin McTague of Niskayuna (1999-2001, 2003) and later equaled by Shaker’s Maryanna Lansing (2011-14). Griffin, a junior, won her first Grout varsity race as an 11-year-old seventh-grader in 2018.
Shaker will compete in the Division I girls’ race with Mohonasen and Suffern among others after winning the Division II team title in 2021. Shaker and Suffern are ranked No. 5 and 25, respectively, in the most recent MileSplit New York Class A rankings, and Mohonasen is ranked No. 9 in the Class B rankings.
“Having Mohonasen back is good news. They haven’t been with us for a while,” Menis said of the Colonial Council power that is anchored by Rachel Miller. “They have been on a roll in recent years. They won at the Queensbury Invitational two weeks ago.”
The girls’ Division II field includes Colonie, which is ranked No. 22 in Class A by MileSplit, and the girls’ Division C group has Schuylerville, which is ranked No. 12 in Class C by MileSplit.
Shenendehowa returns in an attempt to defend its boys’ Division I team title in a field that includes Suffern. Shenendehowa and Suffern are ranked No. 10 and 14 in Class A, respectively, by MileSplit.
“There is no Gitch Hayes this year,” Menis said of the graduated La Salle standout who won the Grout DI title last year by 51 seconds. “I heard Shenendehowa’s No. 1 is taking the SAT. There should be a lot of wide-open races.”
The boys’ Division II group includes CBA, which is ranked No. 10 in Class B by MileSplit. The boys’ Division C contingent includes defending team champ Fonda-Fultonville, which is ranked No. 8 in Class C by MileSplit and features defending individual Grout champ Bennett Melita.
Twenty schools have signed up to compete in the Division C race.
Sub-varsity races will go from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to begin the event’s 83rd edition. They will be followed by the girls’ Division C race at 11:30 a.m., the boys’ Division C race at noon, the combined girls’ Division I-II race at 12:30 p.m., and the combined boys’ Division I-II race at 12:55 p.m.