Westchester/Putnam girls cross country performer of the year: Bronxville's Tori Flannery
(Original publication: December 9, 2007)

Of all the distance runners Jim Mitchell has coached in Bronxville's prestigious cross country program, junior Tori Flannery, The Journal News Westchester/Putnam runner of the year, is already second to just one.

She's very determined, Mitchell said. Some people let the nerves get the better of them. She uses them in a positive sense. She can rise up and meet challenges rather than let them defeat her. When someone passes her, she takes it personally.

At the Westchester County championships, a year after being passed in the final 100 meters and taking second place, Flannery put on a commanding performance. Pushing through a downhill halfway through the 2.5-mile course at Van Cortlandt Park, she blew past her competition and won in 15 minutes, 2.53 seconds, the fourth-fastest time ever for a Westchester girl.

It was a monkey off my back, said Flannery, who won her first county title. It was a tremendous relief that all the practice was worth it. I know I have that in me now and I can compete like that.

Flannery also prevailed at the DeWitt Invitational, the Coaches and Officials Invitational and the Section 1 championships at Bowdoin Park, where she won the Class C race by 30 seconds in 19:22.63, the fastest time of anyone from Westchester and the fourth-fastest overall in Section 1. Her previous best time at Bowdoin was 19:40.

It was a calm race, Flannery said. I went out thinking, I'm just going to run it. I wasn't looking to get myself psyched out. There was no pressure. I really enjoyed it more than freaking out before the race.

Flannery also helped Bronxville to the most successful season for any area girls team - a sixth county title in seven years, the 11th straight sectional title in Class C and a runner-up finish at states behind nationally ranked Greenwich, the second straight time Bronxville finished second to its state rival.

I just look at it as incentive to run well and to push me in the future, Flannery said.

Flannery won a state title outdoors in the 1,500 meters as a freshman, but after being nipped in cross country last year, she finally had her breakthrough season in the fall.

She never complains, never said I'm too tired, always willing to give it a go, Mitchell said. She would never miss a day, and she was very positive about all aspects of the season.

Flannery is thrilled to be in such high company, behind only Michelle Rorke in her coach's estimation, and ahead of greats such as Amanda Hudson and Catha and Caroline Mullen, who all recently ran for Princeton.

Mitchell is so good about keeping all these times in a book and knowing how fast the girls in the past have run, Flannery said. To be a part of it is just an honor.

Also named to the first team:

Meghan Brown, Ursuline: In her fourth appearance at Federations, the senior finished 48th, tops among all Westchester/Putnam runners. Brown, the Westchester County champion as a freshman, ran a personal best in every course she ran this year, including a 15 minutes, 19 seconds at Van Cortlandt Park. She was third in the county meet and 12th overall at sectionals.

Emma Clarke, Bronxville: At 6-foot-1, Clarke used her long strides to become one of the most consistent runners in the area. The senior, who will run at Cornell next fall, was third in the Class C sectional meet, fourth in the county meet and capped her season with a 69th place finish at Federations, third-best in the county.

Libby Lazere, Pleasantville: The fastest Section 1 finisher in the Class C state race, the sophomore was the first runner from Pleasantville to qualify for the Federation meet, where she finished 65th, the second-best in Westchester. Only a sophomore, this developing runner was undefeated in dual meets and won the League 3-B title for the third straight season.

Ashley Maurer, Carmel: An all-American in the spring as a member of the 3,200-meter relay team, Maurer had a successful fall season despite missing the first month with tendinitis in her right foot. The junior had the 11th-fastest time at sectionals and was 59th in Class AA at states.

Kristin Reese, Carmel: After not racing since last June because of a stress fracture in the third metatarsal of her right foot, the senior had the third-fastest time of any girl at sectionals. She placed 35th overall at states with the second-best time of any Section 1 runner.

Katie Sullivan, Ursuline: A junior who has the school record for every course she raced this season, Sullivan placed second at the Westchester County meet, third in the Class A sectional meet and ninth at the Class A state meet. She also won the DeWitt Invitational and received a Federation bid.

Coach of the year

Jan Mitchell, Ursuline: Mitchell presided over the best team in the program's 18-year history. The Koalas won their first sectional title in 14 years and finished second at counties behind Bronxville, a team Ursuline beat in the DeWitt Invitational for the first time in eight years.

Second team

Rosie Crean, Sr., Ursuline

Kayli Gilmartin-Donahue, Jr., White Plains

Caitlin Hudson, Jr., Bronxville

Henrietta Miers, So., Bronxville

Miriam Munn, So., Brewster

Brett Rosenberg, Sr., Greeley

Emily Singer, So., Harrison

Daphne Tsoucas, So., Greeley

Honorable mention

Brooke Bierderman, So., Horace Greeley; Mislie Bien-Aime, Sr., New Rochelle; Olivia Bruton, Jr., Bronxville; Virginia Connor, Sr., Bronxville; Sarah Costa, Fr., Croton-Harmon; Mairin Din, Sr., Irvington; Madie Federle, So., Ursuline; Annie Field, Fr., Irvington; Molly Gardineer, Fr., Mahopac; Kelley Gould, Jr., Carmel; Camey Hess, So., Greeley; Sara Hess, Jr., Mamaroneck; Nora Howe, So. Hastings; Katrina Keegan, Jr., Mahopac; Rebecca Levy, 8th, Mahopac; Kelly Maguire, Fr., White Plains; Breeda Mannion, So., Kennedy; Elizabeth O'Brien, Jr., Greeley; Katie Poleski, Sr., Ossining; Caroline Raue, Jr., Fox Lane; Hannah Rose, Sr., Croton-Harmon; Nicolette St. Lawrence, Fr., Harvey; Emma Wisdom, Fr., John Jay

The Journal News cross country all-star team was selected with the assistance of the following coaches: Rich Clark, Scarsdale and Section 1 coordinator; Tim Fulton, Somers; Steve Houser, Greeley; Jan Mitchell, Ursuline; Jim Mitchell, Bronxville; and Eric Schwark, Carmel.

Reach Harold Gutmann at hgutmann@lohud.com.