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Warriors again top F-M for sectional cross country title

Now that all the work was done, the Liverpool boys cross country team had to do the most difficult thing possible -- namely, stand around and wait.

The Warriors had just completed its turn at last Friday's Section III Class AA championship meet at Jamesville Beach Park, having waged a fierce duel with Fayetteville-Manlius and Baldwinsville for the team title and the automatic trip to this Saturday's state meet at Norwood-Norfolk.

As the results were being tabulated, Liverpool, F-M and B'ville runners all waited in the team area with parents, coaches and fans, each group hoping that they would finish on top.

Then the news broke -- and the team in orange started to celebrate. Liverpool was Class AA champions again by just two points over the Hornets, and by eight points over the Bees.

Though it wasn't an enormous upset like it was in 2006 when Liverpool beat F-M in the sectional meet at Longbranch Park, the Warriors had to work just as hard to beat the Hornets in this tension-filled sequel on a gorgeous fall afternoon with blue skies and perfect running conditions.

Ethan Hickey led the charge and came close to the individual title. He led a pack of strong runners for much of the way, only to get passed in the late stages by West Genesee sophomore Steve Houghmaster. Hickey finished second in 15 minutes, 51.6 seconds, just 5.4 seconds behind Houghmaster.

Right behind Hickey, Bryan Picciotto just missed out on third place, his time of 15:44.4 just four-tenths of a second behind Auburn's Scott Garrett.

Both Hickey and Picciotto were assured of berths in the state meet. Now the question was whether their Liverpool teammates would join them.

Four F-M runners -- Andrew Sargrad, Alex Hatz, Paul Merriman and Andrew Roache -- grabbed the sixth, seventh, eighth and 11th spots, respectively, meaning the Warriors had to hurry, or risk losing the team crown.

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