In what's becoming quite an enjoyable early-December ritual, each of the Fayetteville-Manlius cross country teams are on their way to compete for a national championship.
The Hornets swept both the top spots at Saturday's Nike Cross Regional Championships at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, qualifying for this Saturday's Nike Nationals, held again in Portland, Ore.
F-M's girls team is seeking a fourth consecutive national title, which has never been done before. The boys Hornets were 16th in Portland a season ago.
First, both sides had to take care of the Regional event. To get itself into ideal shape, F-M ran in both the Section III and New York State Public High School Athletic Association meets, then skipped the Nov. 21 State Federation meet, also held at Bowdoin Park.
Rested, and ready to dominate, F-M, running under the moniker Manlius XC Club, won on the girls side with 41 points. Kinetic Running Club (Saratoga Springs) took second with 71 points as Clifton Park (Shenendehowa) finished third with 117 points.
Freshman Jillian Fanning led her side with a fifth-place time of 18 minutes, 44.2 seconds as Lizzie Predmore (Shenendehowa) won the individual race in 18:24.3.
Katie Sischo also found the top 10, the sophomore taking eighth place in 18:52.4. Senior Molly Malone was 11th, in 18:57.1, while two other seniors followed, Mackenzie Carter in 17th (19:11.3) and Hannah Luber in 18th (19:13.3) to round out the scoring.
Section III and state individual champion Courtney Chapman held back a bit, the junior getting 23rd place in 19:20.9 as sophomore Heather Martin was 24th in 19:21.1.
As to the boys regional race, Manlius XC Club struck again, topping a field of 19 other contenders that included Liverpool (fifth) and Baldwinsville (eighth). F-M had 63 points, while Deluge (Burnt Hills) was second with 105 points. Red Raider (North Rockland) settled for third place.