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F-M cross country sweeps, advances to national meet

Both of the Fayetteville-Manlius cross country teams have earned berths at this Saturday's Nike Nationals in Portland, Ore.

The Hornets pulled this off by sweeping Saturday's New York and Northeast Nike Cross Country Regionals, held at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.

Competing as Manlius XC, the boys Hornets avenged its defeat in the state championship meet to Shaker two weeks earlier at Lakeside Park in Pawling, earning 45 points to top Shaker's total of 59 points.

Two seniors, Mark McGurrin and Andrew Roache, joined sophomore Nick Ryan in leading F-M's winning effort as they each secured top-10 finishes.

McGurrin covered the 5,000-meter Bowdoin Park coursse in 16 minutes, 9 seconds, that put him in fourth place, not far from Sam Place's winning time of 15:54.5, and was best among team runners in the event.

Just behind McGurrin, Ryan secured fifth place in 16:14.9, while Roache also ran well, claiming ninth place in 16:22.8.

In the next pack, senior Andrew Veilleux worked his way to 28th place (16th among team runners) in a clocking of 16:54.2. Junior Ben Thomas, by finishing 39th (21st team) in 17:04.9, clinched the team title as senior Eric Billinson got 42nd place (17:05.7) and junior Jules Wellner was 57th in 17:15.1.

When it was the girls turn at Bowdoin Park, F-M, the nation's top-ranked team, continued to flatten the competition as, under the Manlius XC banner, it earned 27 points to beat Saratoga Springs (73 points) for the top spot. North Shore, East Aurora and Burnt Hills rounded out the top five.

Sophomore Jillian Fanning proved the fastest runner in the field, as she tore through the course in 18 minutes flat, beating Brittany Winslow by 5.2 seconds.

Just behind them, junior Katie Sischo was third in 18:18.1 and fellow junior Christie Rutledge, fresh off winning the state individual title on Nov. 13, got fifth place in 18:18.1. Yet another F-M junior, Heather Martin, was seventh in 18:33.7.

That surge all but clinched the meet, as senior Courtney Chapman worked her way to 17th place in 19:07.9. Sophomore Katie Brislin took 27th place in 19:31.8, with junior Emily McGurrin getting to 36th place in 19:50.7.

Now the entire F-M program makes its way west to Portland, site of so many triumphs in recent years. The girls Hornets are trying to win its fifth straight national championship, while the F-M boys want to move up from a ninth-place finish last year.

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