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Girls Cross Country Girls Cross Country
Inducted: 2006 - Graduated: 1990

Once they gathered a head of steam, there was no

stopping them.With each passing week, it seemed like

the ’90 girls’ cross country team was playing a game of

“CanYouTopThis,” reeling off onemilestone performance

after another en route to one of the greatest seasons in

Nanuet athletic team history. It started with the

streak-buster – Nanuet’s 23-32 victory over Pearl

River, scissoring the Pirates’12-year dual-meet winning

streak. It then continued with mid-season successes

that helped forge the team’s character, and climaxed in

season-ending efforts that stamped these Golden

Knights as a team for the ages.

On magical back-to-back weekends in mid-November,

Nanuet won the New York State Class C championship

and then finished second to nationally ranked Saratoga

in the state Federation meet, which encompassed all

classes and divisions in one winner-take-all showdown.

In both races they overcame cold, rainy weather and

sloppy course conditions.

“Going into the state championships we were the

underdog to No. 1-ranked Allegany,” recalls Larry Beckerle, the team’s head coach. “Our girls persevered

in the bad weather and really came through. After

that, the Federation meet was icing on the cake. They

surpassed all expectations as a small school competing

in the Federation meet and finishing second.”

A solid nucleus of returners had Beckerle and assistant

coach Dave Hanson optimistic for a fruitful ’90 campaign,

but even they could not have foreseen the leap their

young team was poised to make. Sophomore Sheri

Felenstein was the team’s forerunner and one of the

premier harriers in the state. She and sisters Kristin and

Kathy Thelen, a sophomore and junior respectively,

were already seasoned veterans, having competed in

the state meet the previous year. But the other varsity

members “made a big difference” in elevating the ’90

team beyond its predecessors, Beckerle says. Another

pair of sisters, sophomore Maura Wholey and senior

Bernie Wholey, consistently gave the Golden Knights

solid fourth and fifth scorers. Soph Jennifer Mills and

freshman Aime Goldberg were the other varsity runners

for most of the season.

Beckerle cited in particular the heroics of Maura

Wholey, who overtook three runners from Allegany in

the final 600 meters to cement the state-meet crown.

Maura also overcame a sprained ankle while warming

up for the Pearl River meet and “ran great” in that meet,

Beckerle says. “She always ran tough in race situations.”

The Nanuet runners came into the season well-conditioned

from summer training and from high-mileage

cross country camp workouts supervised by Dick

Teetsel, Beckerle’s previous assistant coach. The girls’

self-esteem soared in mid-September when they outran

Pearl River to snap the Pirates’ dual-meet winning

skein at 86. As the two-time defending state Class B

champion, Pearl River was a worthy yardstick for the

Knights to measure their transformation into a state

title contender.

“I knew before the season started that we were going to

have a good team,” Beckerle says, “but I had lowered my

expectations for that early in the season.”Assistant coach

Hanson had no such reservations, however, and got the

team believing it could defeat Pearl River. “That was a

real confidence-booster,” Beckerle says. “Our girls had a

bit of an inferiority complex to runners in a Pearl River

uniform. But after beating Pearl River, other teams and

other coaches, including Dan (Doherty, Pearl River’s

coach), were saying that we could do very well. Now

we had something concrete to show that.”

After emerging victorious at the JFK-Bob Sterling

Invitational, Nanuet hit its only speed bump, placing

fourth at the St.Anthony’s Invitational when several of

its top runners veered off course on the SunkenMeadow

(L.I.) layout. The misfortune only strengthened the

team’s resolve, however, as the Knights finished fifth

the following weekend in the Girls’ Eastern States

Championship at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Foreshadowing their state and Federation showings,

they thrived in wet conditions at the Easterns.

The succeeding weeks brought one banner

headline after another:

• Completing a perfect 7-0 dual-meet


• Easily capturing the Section 1 Coaches & Officials

Invitational, with a 1-2 finish from Felenstein and

Kristin Thelen;

• Winning their first Rockland County championship,

with Felenstein notching the first of her three

consecutive individual County titles;

• Sweeping the top four places and 10 of the top 11 in

a near-shutout (16 points) at the League III-A meet;

• Almost duplicating that feat with a 1-2-3 sweep

(Felenstein, Kristin and Kathy Thelen) and five of the

top six in the Section 1 Class Championship, two

points from a perfect score, and dethroning ninetime

defending champ Bronxville in the process;

• Parlaying the ninth-place finish of Felenstein and

valuable scoring placements from Kristin Thelen

(12th), Kathy Thelen (20th) and Maura Wholey

(24th) into the New York State Class C crown;

• Culminating their season with a sparkling runner-up

finish in the state Federation championship, led by

Felenstein’s 12th-place showing (out of 238

finishers) and solid efforts from Kristin (23rd)

and Kathy Thelen (31st).

The Knights finished the season with the No. 1 state

ranking in Classes B-C-D. Fittingly, Beckerle was honored

as Rockland County Coach of the Year. He, in turn,

offered high praise for veterans Hanson and Teetsel in

helping to develop the team into champions. (Hanson,

incidentally, had coached the Nanuet boys to the team

title at the inaugural Federation meet in 1974).

Several teammembers also raked in post-season accolades.

Felenstein and both Thelens earned first-team All-

County honors, and Felenstein also made second-team

All-State.Other key contributors to Nanuet’s gold-plated

season included Rachel Baughman, Krista Schoolcraft,

Kitty Wilkins, Christine Hadermayer, Kerri Flannery

and Charlene Vatsinaris.