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Skaneateles runners take second at OHSL Liberty meet

Neal finishes inches behind Garn for individual title

Marcellus girls cross country runner Rachel Garn (right) sprints to the finish line just in front of Skaneateles’ Kaitlyn Neal in Wednesday’s OHSL Liberty division championship meet at Jordan-Elbridge. Garn, in a time of 20:07.3, beat Neal by two-tenths of a second.

Marcellus girls cross country runner Rachel Garn (right) sprints to the finish line just in front of Skaneateles’ Kaitlyn Neal in Wednesday’s OHSL Liberty division championship meet at Jordan-Elbridge. Garn, in a time of 20:07.3, beat Neal by two-tenths of a second. Pete Davis

— What Kaitlyn Neal went through, on an individual basis, would mirror what the Skaneateles girls cross country team faced on a combined basis during Wednesday’s Onondaga High School League Liberty division championship meet at Jordan-Elbridge.

Neal found herself in a classic duel with Marcellus’ Rachel Garn, just as the state Class C no. 2-ranked Lakers, champions of the Liberty National division in the regular season, found itself in a tense contest with Westhill/Bishop Ludden, the regular-season champs of the Liberty American division.

And in the end, both would settle for second place.

Neal, individually, stayed step-for-step with Garn all the way to the finish line on the tough, rugged J-E course and finished in 20 minutes, 7.5 seconds – but that was behind Garn, who won in 20:07.3, just two-tenths of a second ahead.

Once that was settled, attention turned to the team battle, and though Skaneateles got 54 points to outclass the rest of the OHSL Liberty field, Westhill/Ludden beat them with 44 points amid the season’s coldest temperatures, plus wind and precipitation.

Madeline Adams made her way to sixth place, in 20:56.4. Julia Willcox took 14th place in 21:38.8, just ahead of Liz Dwyer, who was 15th in 21:40.4.

As that went on, though, Westhill/Ludden, led by Genny Corcoran’s third-place finish in 20:11.5, had its four best runners finish in the top 12, with Annibel Coolican (seventh, 21:02.7), Erin Morrell (ninth, 21:13.8) and Emily Washburn (12th, 21:33.7) finishing ahead of Willcox and Dwyer.

Then two more Warriors, Mary Kate Washburn (21:51.7) and Caroline Coates (22:03.9), finished in front of the Lakers’ fifth runner, Morel Malcolm, who was 22nd in 22:25.4.

Elsa Soderberg was 26th, in 22:37 flat, with Finan Malcolm 30th (23:27.3), Maria Schillace 34th (23:52.4) and Ginny Hamlin 42nd (24:32.8) in front of Jillian Van Leer (24:54.6) in the 50th spot.

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