Caz girls cross country wins first-ever league title

If one could concoct a script where the Cazenovia girls cross country team would break through and win the first OHSL Liberty division regular-season championship in the program's history, it would involve adverse weather, chilly temperatures - and Skaneateles as the opposition.

And that's exactly how it turned out.

The celebration began on Thursday after Cazenovia utilized its depth and toughness to topple Skaneateles 22-37 while, at the same time, it also held off host Westhill 28-31 to snag the outright league title.

It figured that the last league meet of the season would prove the toughest. Sknaeateles brought with it the weight of history, gained from winning so many championships at the expense of Cazenovia and others.

Westhill not only had the advantage of running on its home course, it also possessed the two strongest runners in the field in Betsy Black and Jessica Curry, both of whom had transferred from the dormant Bishop Ludden program.

So it wasn't surprising that Black and Curry went 1-2 in the individual standings, both finishing in 19 minutes, 46 seconds. Now it was up to Cazenovia to overcome that early Westhill edge while, at the same time, making sure that Skaneateles didn't keep up.

Hollie Marcelle led that task, holding off Skaneateles' top runner, Madeline Adams, by two seconds, 19:57 to 19:59, to gain third place behind Black and Curry. Then Rae Tobey worked her way to fifth place in 20:03, six seconds better than Skaneateles' Morel Malcolm.

Westhill's third runner, Lissa DiPaola, was seventh (20:30), which meant that Cazenovia had to grab the next three positions, or risk losing the league title.

The trio of Jeannette Cudney, Malone Gabor and Michelle Karker would pull that off. Cudney finished in 20:41 and took eighth place, and Gabor finished ninth in 20:49. When Karker crossed the line in 20:52, three seconds behind Gabor, the Lakers' league title was secure.

A boys meet also took place, where Cazenovia lost 25-34 to Skaneateles and 21-38 to Westhill. Despite this, Pat Dermody took the individual title in 17 minutes, 12 seconds, more than half a minute ahead of the Warriors' Will Downs. Ben Langey worked his way to eighth place in 18:33.

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