Though it came earlier in the schedule than in years past, the intensity of the cross country rivalry between Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse remained deep and strong.
And when the two sides gathered last Wednesday afternoon at Long Branch Park, it was the Warriors that used experience (on the boys side) and depth (on the girls side) to register a rare sweep over the Northstars.
The boys end of it was a bit more decisive, as Liverpool distanced itself from CNS by a comfortable 22-34 margin, with Colin Savage taking charge.
In his first big race of the fall, Savage, a senior, tore through his home course at Long Branch in ideal running conditions -- not too warm, and not too damp. Savage crossed the line in 16 minutes, 12 seconds, well out in front of teammate Alex Wilke, who was second in 16:29.
Chris Buchanan, fresh off his win at the Central Square Invitational on Sept. 12, led CNS as he finished third in 16:39, edging out the Warriors' Nick Hull (16:40) for that spot. Jared Walther (16:59) and Dan Fritz (17:02) were fifth and sixth, respectively, to aid the Northstars' cause.
Liverpool clinched the race, though, by seizing the next four finishing spots. Chris Clemons finished seventh, in 17:06, with Alex Bottorff and Anthony Otsuni both crossing the line in 17:09. Brandon Rudd was 10th in 17:11.
To win the girls meet by a score of 24-31, Liverpool first had to overcome the dominating performance by CNS freshman Nicole Watterud, who covered the 3.1-mile Long Branch course in 19:01, three-quarters of a minute ahead of the field.
Lesley Bowers led Liverpool's effort, finishing second in 19:46, comfortably ahead of the Northstars' Marissa Colburn (20:13) in third place.
The Warriors won the way it did on the boys side, with four runners in a row hitting the line ahead of the CNS chase pack.
Trina Bills, in a time of 20:13, finished fourth, with Rachel Putman in fifth place (20:54). Melissa Riehl slid into sixth place (20:58) and Chelsey Attaway clinched it with seventh place in 21:09. A trio of CNS runners -- Dana Rinaldi (21:20), Mackenzie Cummings (21:36) and Jamie Leone (21:46) -- rounded out the top 10.
Each of these teams would be seen again Saturday at Jamesville Beach State Park (where the Section III championships will take place Nov. 7) for the annual Chittenango Invitational.