F-M runners win fifth straight national championship

And so the cross country dynasty continues at Fayetteville-Manlius.

For the fifth consecutive year, the girls Hornets, under the guidance of coaches Bill and John Aris, took on all the top programs in the United States and beat them - handily, in this case - as it once again prevailed at the Nike Cross Nationals Saturday in Portland, Ore.

Not only that, but F-M's boys team, completing a late-season surge, finished second in its portion of the Nike Nationals - a performance that, just a couple of weeks earlier, seemed close to unimaginable.

Running again as the Manlius XC Club (teams are not allowed to run under their own school name), the F-M girls easily dismissed the challenges of 21 opponents. It finished with 27 points, well clear of Saratoga Springs (Kinetic XC Club), who was a distant runner-up with 104 points.

Those 27 points shattered the previous meet record of 51, which Saratoga set in winning the 2004 Nike Nationals, two years before F-M's run started.

Perhaps it helped that the conditions were quite familiar to anyone with a Central New York background - cold temperatures (around 40 degrees), winds reaching 25 miles per hour. Accustomed to this climate, F-M proceeded with its latest milestone effort.

Three Hornet runners finished among the top six. Junior Christie Rutledge, who won the New York State Public High School Athletic Association individual championship on Nov. 13, earned second place in this event in a time of 18 minutes, 21.4 seconds.

Rutledge led most of the race, only passed in the final mile by Texas runner Rachel Johnson, who would prevail in 18:18.6, just 3.2 seconds better than Rutledge. Still, Rutledge was tops among all team participants, and foretold further F-M success on this day.

Not far behind, junior Katie Sischo made her way to fourth place, in 18:49.7, while sophomore Jillian Fanning's sixth-place clocking of 18:51.7 pushed F-M further out in front as Sischo and Fanning were second and fourth, respectively, among the team runners.

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