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Shen boys earn berth to nationals

There is a bonus for being the best boys cross country team in New York a berth in the Nike Team Nationals in Portland, Ore.

The Shenendehowa Plainsmen punched their ticket to the national high school team competition by easing past the competition at Saturday's Federation meet at Bowdoin State Park in Dutchess County. Three Shen runners placed in the top 30 overall to help the Plainsmen win with 98 points, 53 points ahead of runner-up Collegiate from New York City.

It will be a nice experience for everyone," said Shen coach Matt Jones.

State meet champion Steve Murdock battled an illness to finish third on the challenging Bowdoin State Park course. The senior finished with a time of 15:48, 2.5 seconds behind Guilder-land runner and friend Brian Rhodes-Devey. Fay-etteville-Manlius' Tommy Gruenewald claimed the individual title with a time of 15:40.1.

Zach Predmore wasn't far behind Murdock. The senior finished sixth overall with a time of 16:14.6.

"Zach Premore had a breakthrough race," said Jones. "I think that's a significant improvement over the last two weeks."

Adam Quinn, Zac Suriano and Mike Danaher rounded out Shen's top five. Quinn placed 30th in a time of 16:36.9, while Suriano placed 57th with a time of 17:00.8. Danaher was 62nd in the 253-runner field with a time of 17:04.4.

Jones said Saturday's performance at the Federation meet may bode well for the Plainsmen at Nike Team Nationals, if past efforts from other state champions is any indication.

"Fayetteville-Manlius averaged a 16:38 on the Federation course last year. We averaged 16:32 this year," said Jones. "I don't know if that means anything, but Saratoga averaged 16:42 last year on the Federation course (on its way to a second-place finish) and beat F-M at nationals. So, we're in the ballpark."

Having Murdock on the team is an added boost for Shen. Murdock helped Saratoga beat F-M for the national title last year.

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