All through this fall, the Marcellus boys cross country team has worked toward attaining the OHSL Liberty division championship.
To get it, though, the Mustangs will have to pass the biggest test of all when it clashes with Westhill, this Wednesday afternoon in a meet that also includes Skaneateles, the team's other big rival.
Entering this meet, Marcellus and Westhill are both 6-0, two points ahead of Skaneateles, who is 4-2 but could be a spoiler because the meet is on the Lakers' home course.
Much will depend on the team's fourth and fifth runners, since the top six spots are likely to be filled by Mustang stars Mike Esposito, Chris Stogsdill and Sean Reagan, as well as Warrior stars Pat Hartnett, Greg Pallotta and Andrew Corcoran.
To set up that showdown, the Mustangs had to get through last Wednesday's tough three-way meet with Jordan-Elbridge and Solvay. Led by its star trio, Marcellus beat the Eagles 20-35 and the host Bearcats 19-36.
Esposito edged out Stogsdill for the title, each of them covering the Solvay course in 17 minutes, 56 seconds. Right behind them, Reagan got third place, in 18 minutes flat. Jake Bolewski also had a strong showing, getting fifth place in 18:40, as J-E and Solvay runners filled out the rest of the top 10.
On the same course, the Marcellus girls split with these two teams, beating Solvay 18-43, but falling to J-E in a narrow 26-29 decision.
This happened despite the fact that Carrie Carlton won the individual race with an impressive time of 20:59 and Ariel Briggs finished second, in 21:17.
J-E would claim four of the next five spots, though, and take a lead the Mustangs could not overcome. Jessica Raison finished eighth, in 23:07, with Nicole Stroud earning 10th place in 21:08.
As the boys showdown between Marcellus and Westhill materializes, the girls Mustangs will deal with a Skaneateles team that has won 85 consecutive league meets, dating back to 1993.