Brandt races to Class B cross country title

When it was time to go to the front at last Friday's Section III Class A championship meet, Chittenango's Michelle Brandt did so -- decisively.

Brandt had one of the best performances of the entire sectional meet at Liverpool's Long Branch Park, knifing her way through the cold conditions to lock up the individual Class B championship.

Early on, Brandt and Ryan Kelly (Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) ran step-for-step, but before the midway point, Brandt made her moved to the front, and was never caught.

The Chittenango junior finished in 19 minutes, 49.6 seconds, nearly 15 seconds ahead of Kelly, and Brandt's time beat all but four girls runners in all five sectional races.

Thus, Brandt advances to this weekend's New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship meet at Warwick Valley.

As a team, the Bears took eighth place in Class B, with 169 points, as Westhill (81 points) held off South Jefferson (98 points) for the crown.

Sophomore Brittany Reals claimed 22nd place in a time of 21:54.1. Lauren Anderson was 41st (23:04.5), while Jenny Maum was 46th (23:20.2) and Christine Stoddard finished 60th, in 24:40.2.

Later in the day, Chittenango's boys team finished seventh in its Class B event, earning 190 points as Westhill (53 points) edged out Holland Patent (56 points) to get in front here, too.

Senior Eric Leonard, by a razor-thin margin, missed advancing to the state meet. The top five finishers outside of the winning squad move ahead, and Leonard found himself in a tense duel with Robert Gripko (V-V-S) for that spot.

They sprinted to the line together, but Gripko, in a time of 17:24.4, beat Leonard (17:27.7) by three-tenths of a second. Leonard is still the first alternate to the state meet, and would get in should someone in front of him withdraw.

Dmitriy Tarasevich grabbed 30th place, in 18:31.3, while Robert Doss was 47th in 19:06.3. Mat Benjamin was 53rd (19:18.3) and Robert Woolridge rounded out the scoring, in 65th place in 19:38.3.

As for Oneida's runners, Kelsey Hatch had the best girls finish in Class B, taking 47th place (23:21.6), while Matt Froass led the boys Indians with a 61st-place time of 19:27.6.

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