In many respects, it was a practice run for the cross country girls of Skaneateles when they motored to the Buffalo area for Saturday’s East Aurora Invitational.
Practice run? In just seven weeks, which in athletic terms is a mere blip on the calendar, the Lakers hope to be competing at Elma Meadows, less than 20 minutes away from East Aurora, for the state cross country championship.
“Luck doesn’t just happen,” said coach Rob Tuttle. “Learning to get along with each other for protracted periods of time matters. Understanding what buttons motivate and what ones deflate a teammate are critically important.
“Knowing how to keep loose on a bus, how to hydrate and how to wisely choose your food at a good restaurant and how to moisten the humidity in a desert-dry hotel room is part of the formula for success. It’s not all about keeping up the grades to maintain your eligibility and it’s not all about the training. As the girls learned, there’s so much more.”
If practice makes perfect, the Lakers blowout of state Class C no. 5-ranked Fredonia by a score of 35-80, plus handling 10 other teams, in a winning effort shows that the Skaneateles girls are learning their lessons well.
Running their best race of the season, the state Class C no. 2-ranked Lakers put four girls in the top-10 to roll past the field on a rainy day near Lake Erie.
Shocking the team and the field, freshman Kaitlyn Neal took second place on the three-mile East Aurora course in 18:39.84, an average of 6:13 per mile on the grassy layout.
“Kaitlyn has a motor and she has as much confidence as anyone,” said Tuttle.“A year ago she was a non-descript junior varsity runner, and look at her now. She listened. She learned. And she worked hard.”