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F-M runners unveil third championship banner

Cheers filled the F-M High School gymnasium Friday afternoon as students, faculty and local officials gathered to celebrate the girls' cross country team's national championship. This is its third consecutive win.

"The idea of a national championship in any sport at any level -- high school, collegiate, professional -- and that somebody repeats that three years in a row -- [it's] just an extraordinary accomplishment," said Rich Roy, director of athletics.

The Nike Cross Nationals competition took place in December at Portland Meadows in Portland, Ore. The team finished in first place with 66 points.

Sophomore Courtney Chapman, named runner of the year and New York State Individual Champion, said it was in each team member's heart and will that won the race. Coach Bill Aris said this year could best be typified as overcoming adversity: team member Molly Malone battled a fever and upset stomach the day before the race and Katie Sischo suffered injuries during the sectionals, pulling her out for the rest of the season.

"They didn't give in, they came together, they stepped it up, they believed in themselves and they didn't look to make excuses," he said. "They looked to find ways to expect more from themselves and produce it, and they did that. Any championship team is gutted to have their fair share of [adversity], and we were certainly tested. It was a trial by fire this year and they certainly succeeded."

Additionally, Aris identified Chapman, Carter, Malone and Buchan as major contributors to all three banners, one that was unveiled at the assembly.

"This means a lot to us, but it proves that victory isn't fleeting," added Coach John Aris. "We're gonna go for a fourth one."

Team members include Courtney Chapman (sophomore), Meaghan Anklin (senior), Hannah Luber (junior), Mackenzie Carter (junior), Molly Malone (junior), Kathryn Buchan (senior), Alexandra Chapman (senior), Amanda Eisenson (senior) and Katie Sischo (freshman).

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