The arrival of the Affolder brothers was cause for celebration in the Carlisle running community.

The hype machine got rolling immediately in the spring when it was reported that Noah and Sam Affolder, two of the top high school runners in New York, would be members of the Thundering Herd during the 2016-17 school year.

From Day 1 that hype was well-founded, as Noah, a senior, cruised to win after win while Sam, a sophomore, trailed right behind him.

It culminated in November with an historic day at Hersheypark’s Parkview Cross Country Course, where Carlisle won its first ever PIAA Class 3A silver medal and Noah flattened the competition in 15:33, the first individual gold in Herd history.

It generally takes a record performance to make the top of a year-end list, and that’s exactly why the Affolders and Carlisle cross country are our No. 2 in 2016.

Carlisle already had a strong team heading into the 2016 season before the Affolders arrived. Senior Isaac Kole wound up with a 12th-place finish at states. Tyler Hallman was another returning senior who was set for a strong season until a leg injury caused him to miss the postseason.

The Affolders provided a notable jolt, though. They arrived by way of the U.S. Army War College, which accepted their father back in the spring.

The military family has lived all over the country, making this latest move hardly a surprise. But the brothers chose to attend Carlisle because of the team’s success under Ed Boardman in recent years. Former runners like Zach Brehm and Matt Wisner, each state medalists in cross country and track and field in recent seasons, plus the returning talent, enticed Noah and Sam.

“That’s really what Zach (Brehm) did for us,” Boardman said after the state championship.

The Affolders haven’t stopped since states. The went 1-2 at the Foot Locker regional championship and Noah took sixth, his first loss of the year, at the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships on Dec. 10.

It was good enough for the Syracuse commit to make the U.S. junior cross country team, for which he will compete on Jan. 7 in Scotland at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge.

And after that? Well, Carlisle’s got big plans for the track & field season.

Email Jake Adams at jadams@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520

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Sports editor at The Sentinel.

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