Buchanan wins state Class AA cross country championship

A race covering 5,000 meters - more than three miles - came down to less than a second.

And by winning that race, Cicero-North Syracuse senior Chris Buchanan is the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA champion after his work on a sunny, warm Saturday morning at Lakeside Park in Pawling, east of Poughkeepsie.

Buchanan caught a big break when Baldwinsville's Shaun Thompson, who won the Section III Class AA race a week ago, lost a shoe early in the race. Thompson would fight back into contention, but would not quite catch Buchanan and Saratoga Springs' Sam Place, who would stay close to each other all the way to the wire.

Holding on just long enough, Buchanan finished in 15 minutes, 55.9 seconds, beating Place (15:56.7) by a mere eight-tenths of a second to earn the championship medal.

Earlier that morning, CNS freshman Maria LaMontagne had her own strong showing in the girls Class AA championship race as the top individual outside the juggernaut of Fayetteville-Manlius, who earned its fifth consecutive state title.

LaMontagne could not quite keep up with the Hornets' tandem of Christie Rutledge (who won in 17:31 flat) and Jillian Fanning (who was second in 17:46.1), but she held off a fellow ninth-grader, West Genesee's Laura Leff, to claim third place in a time of 17:56.9 as Leff got fourth place in 17:59.2.

Not too far back, CNS sophomore Nicole Watterud had a fine race, too, earning 26th place in a clocking of 19:21.6. Liverpool sophomore Ashley Letteney made an impressive state meet debut as she covered the Lakeside Park course in 19:47.6 to finish 45th.

Many of these same runners will go to Bowdoin Park, in Wappingers Falls, next Saturday for the state Federation championships.

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