For two years the instruments weren't tuned properly, the car was out of alignment, and the sun was filtered by far too many clouds.
But last Friday there was a return to normalcy as the Skaneateles girls cross country team once again was crowned Section III Class C cross country champions.
With a low score of 46 points, the Lakers went out hard and stayed up front as they outscored surprise runner-up Christian Brothers Academy by 48 points to dominate a field of six state-ranked teams that included CBA, Sauquoit Valley, Tully, Canastota and Pulaski.
Leading the way for Skaneateles was senior Hannah Waite, who grabbed fourth place in a steady race that saw her cross the finish line in 20:20 flat for the Long Branch Park layout - and that was the start of the avalanche.
With a pack time from the first Laker finisher to the fifth of a mere 52 seconds, the onslaught was about to sweep away the field of talented teams.
Fellow seniors Rachel Vaivoda and Stephanie Searing were eighth and ninth, respectively, with identical times of 20:58, as the Laker trio of senior veterans (Waite, Vaivoda and Searing) helped lead the way.
They sent the Lakers back to the state championship, an accomplishment that has been two years in abeyance after an unprecedented 10-year winning streak.
Just three spots back, in 13th place, was Kristin Roberts in 21:09.2. The junior would have placed fourth with the seniors out of the race.
Rachel Hosie duplicated her 14th-place finish of 2005 as she rallied over the final half of the course to finish in 21:12.2 as the pack decimated the chances of all the hopefuls.
Alexis Mazzeo displayed a mid-race surge and a final sprint to the finish to place 22nd in 21:34.6 as the pack showed depth. Christina Homeyer again had difficulties breathing, but worked hard to take 25th in 21:44.
The Lakers advance to the State Championships at Warwick at the eastern end of Route 17 this Saturday at 10:20 a.m.
Favored and ranked first and second in the state are Greenwich and Bronxville. The number three state-ranked Lakers will try to pull off an upset of the two national powers.