Jamesville From the sound of the starter’s pistol, it was all Skaneateles at Saturday’s Section III Class C girls cross country championship race at Jamesville Beach Park.
Led again by Kaitlyn Neal, the Lakers tallied 45 points to outdistance runner-up Cazenovia’s 66 points. Upstart Hannibal totaled 98 points to edge Marcellus with 102 points in the 16-team race.
The winning effort was the first for Skaneateles in a sectional race since 2006. It was the 18th overall sectional title since the inception of the sport in Skaneateles in 1977. From 1994 to 2003, the Lakers won every title.
With the team outcome settled early in the race as the girls from Skaneateles blasted from the starting line, the individual title was up for grabs, with Neal and Marcellus Mustang Rachel Garn going stride for stride for the right to call herself the best in Central New York.
A week earlier, Garn won the OHSL Liberty race by two-tenths of a second, but on the hilly and muddy double loop Jamesville Beach course, it was Neal reasserting herself to win by seven seconds flat.
With the victory, Neal joins fellow Lakers Christina Rolleri and Taylor Lind as Section III individual champions. Neal posted a time of 19:02.4, while Garn finished in 19:09.4.
Closing with a long rally, senior stalwart Madeline Adams took fifth place in 19:54.9, working the hills to gain her advantage to beat archrivals Jeanette Cudney (19:57.4) from Cazenovia and Haylie Virginia (20:04 flat) from Phoenix. This will be the fourth straight trip to the state championship for Adams who is being pursued by Boston College.
Elsa Soderberg finished in 14th place with a clocking of 21:10.1 as she led the rest of the team into the finish chute. In 17th with a time of 21:22.6 was Julia Willcox, while Morel Malcolm’s competitive effort earned her a 20th place finish in 21:40.3.