Elbridge 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.