Why not Feds?  Hilton’s choice not to attend the Federation meet.

Mike Szczepanik – Hilton High School Girls XC Coach


This is to dispel the rumors and get to the truth about why the Hilton Girls Cross Country team has chosen to decline the NY State Federations invite.


Let’s get one thing straight … This decision was made weeks ago, before our County championship meet.  However, we began thinking about it around the Manhattan Invitational.  This was not a reactionary decision based on an injury.  (Although that made the decision all the easier).


It started as I discussed the topic with Coach Rick Guido (my former coach at Fairport HS).  He said, “If you beat Saratoga at States, do you have to go to Feds?”  And I thought a long time about it.  What would be the advantage of going to Feds?  I made several inquires to the NTN committee and although they have never said that we would get a bid if we beat Saratoga at States, it was also said that we would not be penalized for declining to go to Feds. Also, it would be a risk, but I thought - a good risk.  No guaranties, but basically, it was a coach’s decision.  The problem was – we didn’t beat Saratoga Springs, but we felt comfortable that a narrow 1 point loss, coupled with an 8 point win in the merged scores was good enough. 


Let’s keep in mind – New York State is one of a select number of states to have two state meets.  We are obligated to go the NYSPHAA State meet, but not the Federations.


But the question remains, why not go to Feds?  Because … There are too many “all-out” meets in a row.  The schedule of championship meets starts at the end of October and could continue until the middle of December – if your team makes NTN and individuals make Footlocker finals. 

End of October – League/County championships

November – Sectionals, States, Federations, and FL NE

December – NTN, and FL Finals. 

That is seven straight weeks of top end racing.  A runner only has so many big races in them.  At some point something has to give …


Ask the Coach of #1 US Corona del Mar, Bill Sumner who said, in the November 15th issue of “The Harrier”, that his kids only have 4 times a season that they can go “all – out”.  He calls it their Four Aces.  


You can even look at what the girls from Saratoga Springs did last year.  Even the greatest team ever assembled had trouble in their final meet.  It seemed like they had run one to many top-end, all-out races.  And the coaches, Art and Linda Kranick, did everything right including staying out west for the week between NTNs and Footlockers. 




Our goal all season has been to make it to NTNs and perform well at the meet, perhaps even win it.  We feel like we have done everything we can to prove we are a worthy team to be entered into the NTNs, and even put ourselves in the position to win it.


Why are we a worthy team?

1.      Against US #2, NE #1 Saratoga Springs – Head to Head twice. 

·        Manhattan Invitational – 133 Saratoga to 147 Hilton

·        NYSPHAA State meet – Class AA – 46 Saratoga to 47 Hilton 

·        NYSPHAA State meet – Merged Results – 60 Hilton to 68 Saratoga

2.      Against US #15, NE #3 Bronxville – Head to Head twice.

·        Manhattan Invitational – 147 Hilton to 213 Bronxville

·        NYSPHAA State meet – Merged Results – 60 Hilton to 245 Bronxville

3.      Against NE #4 Colts Neck – Head to Head once

·        Manhattan Invitational – 147 Hilton to 212 Colts Neck

4.      Against NE #5 Suffern – Head to Head three times

·        Queensbury Invitational – 39 Hilton to 92 Suffern

·        Manhattan Invitational – 147 Hilton to 193 Suffern

·        NYSPHAA State meet – Class AA - 47 Hilton to 92 Suffern

·        NYSPHAA State meet – Merged Results – 60 Hilton to 210 Suffern

5.      Against NE #6 Warwick – Head to Head twice

·        Manhattan Invitational – Hilton 147 to 205 Warwick

·        NYSPHAA State meet – Class AA – 47 Hilton to 87 Warwick

·        NYSPHAA State meet – Merged Results – 60 Hilton to 175 Warwick


We haven’t faced NE teams #7 - #10. 


6.      The only team we have lost to this year is perennial super-power Saratoga Springs.  And each time it was to close to call at the line (in fact at one point Dyestat had Hilton defeating Saratoga on their website).  The most recent was a one point loss at the State meet – but we won the merged score (unfortunately for us – it isn’t the state championship). 

7.      We have had outstanding performances when it counts.  We have been our best in the biggest meets including:

·        Queensbury Invitational Championship race

·        McQuaid Invitational Seeded AAA race

·        Manhattan Invitational – Girls Eastern States

·        NYSPHAA State meet


Our goal was not to duck the competition, because, as some have suggested, “we are worried about losing”.  This also was not a knee-jerk reaction to an injury. This, as every decision this team has made this year, has been well thought-out and planned.  Missing out on an invitation to NTNs is a risk, but I think we have made our case.