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F-M wins fourth straight national cross country title

If it's the first weekend in December, then it must mean that the Fayetteville-Manlius girls cross country team is in Oregon, laying claim to a national championship.

Further establishing itself as the nation's best program, the Hornets withstood the efforts of 21 determined challengers to win the Nike Cross Nationals at Portland Meadows Race Track for the fourth consecutive year.

F-M, running as the Manlius XC Club, earned 74 points, easily outpacing the runner-up, Saratoga Springs' Kinetic XC Club, who had 147 points. Fort Collins (Col.) was third with 161 points.

Here was an example of how the Hornets' sheer depth overwhelmed the competition. F-M flew across the country with only one small issue - the health of Courtney Chapman, who is the Section III and state Class AA individual champion.

Chapman fell ill just before the Nike Regionals on Nov. 28 at Bowdoin Park, and that played a big role in her finishing sixth out of seven F-M competitors. But with the abundant talent coach Bill Aris had on reserve, Chapman could improve her health without worrying on how it might affect her teammates' performance.

Sure enough, once in Portland, F-M attacked as a whole unit, which prove more powerful than anything that could get in the way. The Hornets dominated without putting a single runner in the individual top 20, as Iowa's Catherine Flood, from Des Moines, took the individual crown in 17 minutes, 47.2 seconds.

It was sophomore Katie Sischo that would lead the Hornets on this day, as she covered the 3.0-mile Portland Meadows course in a time of 18:14.9 for 21st place, 11th among team competitors.

Just two seconds behind Sischo was senior Molly Malone, working her way to 24th (13th team) place in 18:16.9, and Chapman was next, finishing in 18:20 flat for 26th place (15th team), while freshman Jillian Fanning claimed 28th place (16th team) in 18:23.1.

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