Though they traveled by varying paths, both Fayetteville-Manlius cross country teams arrived at the same destination - holding the title of state Class AA champions.
On an overcast Saturday at SUNY-Plattsburgh, the Hornets earned both top spots at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association meet.
with the F-M girls, the nation's top-ranked team, the outcome was never in question. In fact, the Hornets were flawless, claiming the AA crown with 15 points, leaving Saratoga Springs (59 points) and the rest of the field far behind.
Courtney Chapman won the individual state AA title for the second year in a row. The F-M junior covered the 3.1-mile Plattsburgh course in 17 minutes, 25.4 seconds. Of all the runners at the state meet, only Cornwall's Ainsley Cuffe (17:00.10 in the Class A race) did better.
Senior Molly Malone finished second in the AA race in 17:34.7, 9.3 seconds behind Chapman, with freshman Jillian Fanning claiming third place in 17:35.3. Another senior, Mackenzie Carter, was fourth in 17;36 flat, with sophomore Katie Sischo fifth in 17:36.7.
Also among the Hornet runners, senior Hannah Luber worked her way to 15th place in 18:04.6, and sophomore Heather Martin finished 20th, in 18:09.7.
Earlier that morning, the boys Class AA state race was expected to be a duel between F-M and Section I's North Rockland, especially since Hornets star Alex Hatz had to sit out again.
But when all the point totals were added, the Hornets had 48 points and were on top, with North Rockland settling for the second spot as it earned 63 points.
Among individuals, senior Brendan Farrell finished sixth in 15 minutes, 40.9 seconds, behind the winner, North Rockland's Nick Hughes (15:26.3).
Fellow senior Paul Merriman earned 14th place in 15:53.8, as he and junior Mark McGurrin, in 20th place (16:00.9), beat out the second and third North Rockland runners, giving F-M an advantage it would not relinquish.
Junior Andrew Roache earned 28th place, in 16:08.4, and when senior Joe Hartnett crossed the line in 30th place (16:10.8), the Hornets were state champs. Junior Owen Strong was 44th (16:26.1) and sophomore Ben Thomas was 60th in 16:40.5.