Most of the area’s high school cross country teams made their way to Saturday’s Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Invitational, on the same spot where the state championships will get decided less than two months from now.
It provided a showcase for two of Central New York’s top runners – West Genesee sophomore Laura Leff on the girls side, Marcellus junior Ryan Manahan on the boys side.
Leff won her Varsity 2 race in 18 minutes, 9.4 seconds. And that also beat every other individual time in every other race except that of Jillian Fanning (Fayeteville-Manlius), who won the Varsity 1 race in 18:05.2, just 4.2 seconds ahead of Leff.
Meanwhile, Manahan won for the second time in as many weeks after his triumph in the East Syracuse-Minoa Invitational. He beat the Varsity 4 field in 16 minutes, 11.2 seconds, well clear of Baldwinsville’s Alec Peinkofer (16:23.9), and fourth overall for the day.
From a team standpoint, WG’s girls were 20th in a field of 123 with 598 points and third within Varsity 2. Lindsey Weaver was 12th in that race in 20:52.9, while Kelly Powell was 20th (21:22.2) and Abby Kastick 21st in 21:24.6. Lauren Brieant (22:06.8) was 35th.
In Varsity 4, Marcellus was fourth in a 15-team division with 135 points, while Westhill/Bishop Ludden was 10th. The Mustangs’ Rachel Garn claimed fifth place in 20:03 flat, while Maggie Dunn was eighth in 20:34.2 and Molly McGuane (21:48.3) was 25th.
On Westhill/Ludden’s side (without stars Jessica Curry and Betsy Black), Erin Christensen (38th, 22:25.1) and Erin Morrell (41st, 22:42.1) had the best efforts. Jordan-Elbridge was 15th in the Varsity 5 division, led by Phebe Alley, who was 54th in 22:42.7.
Moving to boys action at VVS, Marcellus was fifth in Varsity 4 with 98 points. Manahan’s teammate, Joe Fallon, got fifth place in 16:50.4, while John Bell took 20th in 17:44.7. Justin Garn was 29th (18:14.0) and David Lilly was 52nd in 18:50.8.