With 555 meters remaining, Skaneateles girls cross country star Kaitlyn Neal gave it everything she had as the two lead runners emerged from 2.5 miles of wooded trails at Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C championship race at Queensbury High School in the Adirondacks.
Despite Neal’s determined efforts, the Lakers sophomore fell 3.9 seconds short of claiming the state crown as Onteora senior Julia Rubin-Armstrong won with a time of 18 minutes, 22.4 seconds for the 3.1 mile racetrack that ran parallel to 87 North, otherwise known as the Adirondack Northway.
Neal, who blistered a 5:57 pace per mile and finished in 18:26.3, was the winner of the team race, as Rubin-Armstrong participated as an individual.
“I really wanted it,” said Neal. “I just couldn’t get her, but I tried hard."
Neal added that while her coaches, Jack Reed and Rob Tuttle, repeated that being the state runner-up was an enormous accomplishment.
“Remember,” said Tuttle, “New York is the most powerful and the most successful state in the country when it comes to cross country. You’re at the top of the game in the United States.”
In the Class C team event, the Lakers finished in third place, with 107 points, behind Bronxville, who won with 45 points, and runner-up Canton (71 points).
“We did everything we could," said Tuttle. "The girls gave it everything. Taking third in New York is a huge accomplishment.
"When the girls are asked by their children and grandchildren whether their team was any good back in the old days, these girls can say, with a clear conscience, ‘We were real good,’ and they’ll be telling the truth. We’re proud of their dedication, their sacrifices and their deep reservoir of hope.”
Madeline Adams finally got the opportunity to race with her team at the state meet after three previous state championships running as an individual.