In just the first eight days of competition, the Cicero-North Syracuse cross country teams competed in two high-profile invitational meets and encountered national powerhouse Fayetteville-Manlius.
To complete this early gauntlet, the Northstars went to Saturday's Vernon Verona Sherrill Invitational, held on the same course where the Section III championships will get contested on Nov. 6.
Again, CNS went up against West Genesee, just as it had done in the Sept. 11 Chittenango Invitational at Jamesville Beach -- and again, the Northstars won on the girls side, claiming the Varsity 2 division with 49 points with the Wildcats (62 points) claiming the runner-up spot once more.
Though Nicole Watterud, in a time of 19:37.5, again took second behind WG's Laura Leff (whose 18:31.6 was the best time of the entire meet), she had ample support from Jacqlynn Halstead, who ran to fourth place in 20:45 flat.
Meanwhile, Katie Laris battled her way to a 12th-place time of 21:31.6 and a newcomer, junior Jessica Jelfo, impressed by finishing 14th in 21:42.7. Mackenzie Cummings was 17th (22:00.5) and closed out the scoring portion, with Megan Murphy (22:20.9) and Micaela Donabella (22:28.8) in 21st and 24th, respectively.
In a thrilling boys Varsity 2 race, Chris Buchanan and WG's Billy Gabriel stayed close to each other, but it was Buchanan prevailing in a time of 16:16.1, just 1.4 seconds ahead of Gabriel.
Still, CNS finished second (51 points) to the Wildcats (37 points), just as at Jamesville Beach. Eric Hart finished 11th in 17:18.6, while Anthony Lupia finished 13th (17:27.6) and Ken Ryan got 14th place in 17:33.5. Neill Gill moved up to 16th place in 17:41 flat as Alex Bottorff (25th, 18:18.9) and Tom McAndrew (34th, 18:42.2) also ran well.
CNS is home on Wednesday for a key CNY Counties League clash against Baldwinsville.