Verona Skaneateles girls cross country runners Kailtyn Neal and Madeline Adams will dig their spikes into the turf at the Elma Meadows course, near Buffalo,. this Saturday in the state championship meet after qualifying in last Saturday's Section III meet at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.
It will be Adams’ third consecutive trip to the championship race, while Neal, a freshman, will be participating for the first time. And it wasn’t easy for either of them as they traversed through the VVS course in cold, wet and muddy conditions.
Both of the Laker runners started far back of the lead pack in the Class C race, while hoping their teammates were running close behind like they did in the previous week’s stellar performance in the Onondaga High School League championship race. Neal was fighting a minor health issue, while Adams was fighting through a season-long injury.
“I heard my coach yell that the team was out of the picture and if I was going to move to States, I’d have to do it myself,” said Adams. “I was dead. My legs were dead from the mud but I knew I wasn’t going to let this slip away.”
And over the final 800 meters, Adams turned in a repeat performance of her 2011 sectional race where she willed herself past two Adirondack runners (Darien Rhone and Meghann Tanner) who, “must hate me by now,” said the relieved Adams, who finished in a time of 20 minutes, 20.1 seconds.
Neal, the OHSL champion, was a bit off her game due to a health issue but she still claimed fourth overall in 20:10.8 for the 5,000-meter course that was as much mud as grass.
“Once again it was cold and muddy,” said coach Jack Reed. “And we’re not as strong in the cold as we are normally. It is what it is and we’ll just keep tinkering to get everyone through this. I thought this was our year, but the Tully girls got it rolling a bit more than we did.”