In the span of just 10 days, Kaitlyn Neal has set two course records and burst upon the New York State cross country scene, and it may be just the beginning.
The Skaneateles girls cross country freshman led a determined and depleted Laker squad to victory at last Saturday’s Marion Invitational a few miles north of the site of the Hill Cumorah Pageant near Palmyra. The Lakers’ tally of 29 points outdistanced Victor and Red Creek in the 10-team field.
Illness and the PSATs forced a few Lakers to the sidelines, but nothing was going to stop Neal who blistered a course-record time of 19:11 for the hilly 5,000-meter layout that featured uneven ground from start to finish.
“Here’s the deal,” said coach Jack Reed. “She rates-out as the best distance runner in Skaneateles history, bar none. And that’s astounding, considering that a year ago Kailtyn was deep down the JV roster. It just goes to show that hard work and confidence does pay off.”
When one realizes that the Skaneateles girls’ team has produced 48 All-State runners, the statement elevating Neal to the top of the list is remarkable.
Neal, who beat the runner-up from Red Jacket (Shealyn Doody) by 55 seconds, wasn’t alone in the lopsided win. Junior Madeline Adams placed fourth in 20:40 as she continues her climb back to the top after suffering a harsh foot injury in the season’s second invitational in early September.
“She’s a tough girl, a girl with a lot of pride, and it’s good to see her racing well again,” said Reed.
Liz Dwyer took seventh overall in 21:19 as she shows her ability to conquer even the toughest of courses. The young sophomore bloodied her feet, but kept on going.
Maggie Dunn placed ninth in the competitive field with a time of 21:40 despite a sciatic nerve flair-up that occurred on the 90-minute bus ride.