What had started out as a distant dream turned into glorious reality for the Liverpool boys cross country team as it ventured across the country, to Oregon, to compete in its first-ever Nike Cross Nationals.
Following its state Federation championship on Nov. 16 and a third-place finish at the Nike New York/Northeast Regionals two weeks later (both meets were held at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls), the Warriors found out that it would receive an at-large invitation to the Nike Nationals.
And so Liverpool found itself, on a frigid Saturday afternoon in Portland, among the best cross country teams in America, ready to tackle a course frozen over by the cold temperatures and, again, running against its big local rival, Fayetteville-Manlius.
With so many powerful teams on hand, Liverpool could only manage a 20th-place finish in a field of 22, picking up 401 points. F-M was fourth, with 216 points, as Gig Harbor, from Washington State, took the national title with 111 points.
In a field of 197 runners, Dan Muldoon had the Warriors’ best finish, as he covered the course in 16 minutes, seven seconds, finishing 89th. He was 15 spots ahead of Dylan McCarthy, who made his way to 104th place in 16:15.
Just behind them, Ben Petrella had a time of 16:25, seven seconds better than Connor Buck, who finished in 16:32. Nick LeClair crossed the line in 16:44, with Ryan Comstock getting a time of 17:05 and Alex Christensen finishing in 17:17. Taylor Wilmot, of North Spokane (Wash.), won the individual race in exactly 15 minutes.
By far, the best news for Liverpool is that it is still a young team. Of the top seven runners, only Christensen is a senior. Muldoon, Buck, McCarthy and LeClair are all juniors, with Petrella and Comstock finishing their sophomore campaigns.
As such, the Warriors will go into the 2014 season quite capable of upending F-M at both the sectional and state level – and perhaps returning to Oregon in December, too.