Rain had fallen for more than 12 hours. A wind of 30 miles per hour screamed in from the west, just in time for Saturday's running of the Onondaga High School League cross country championship meet at Tully High School.
These brutal conditions were either going to bring Fayetteville-Manlius back to the field, or just allow them to separate further from all possible challengers.
It turned out to be the latter. By wide margins, both the boys and girls Hornets flattened the fields at Tully, giving itself the maximum amount of momentum going into the Section III championship meet at Longbranch Park this weekend.
For F-M's boys, success at the OHSL meet has become a yearly occurrence. The Hornets took everyone apart with 47 points, leaving Liverpool (101 points) and the hosts from Tully (102 points) far behind them.
Tommy Gruenewald's latest victory was one of his best runs all season. In soft and muddy conditions, Gruenewald prevailed in 15 minutes, 41 seconds, not far from the record time of 15:32.7 posted by Liverpool's Ben White a year ago in much better conditions.
Right behind Gruenewald, Geoff King ran to second place, in 16:09.7, while Luke Fitzgibbons finished in 16:42.7, the exact same time as Liverpool's Ethan Hickey, but had to settle for fourth place.
Further back, Ben Kimple ran to 19th place, in 17:14.1, while Andy Sargrad (17:23.7) finished 21st to round out F-M's scoring. Paul Merriman was 34th, in 17:55.5.
The OHSL girls meet also belonged to the Hornets. With 40 points, the deep and balanced Hornets easily fended off the challenge of Cicero-North Syracuse, who was second with 85 points.
Mackenzie Carter nearly won the individual championship, too, but the freshman had to settle for second place, in 19:05.1, as West Genesee star Elizabeth McMahon (19:00.7) won for the second year in a row.
Kathryn Buchan flew into third place in 19:13.0, beginning the rest of the F-M charge. Jessica Hauser earned sixth place, in 19:50.2, while Courtney Chapman gained 14th (20:16.7), Molly Malone was 17th (20:22.9) and Catie Caputo finished 19th, in 20:29.7.
F-M's junior varsity girls won its OHSL race, too, as Rachel Weiter (21:29.5), Dana Gould, Shannon Baum and Alexandra Chapman swept the top four spots.
Both Hornet teams will be heavily favored to defend their Section III Class AA championships Friday in Liverpool.