Almost 7,000 highly trained runners would toe the line at some point during the day. Nearly 300 schools from around the Northeast would run and lay it all on the line for the right to bus back home without the albatross-of-loss squeezing tight against their carotid artery.
It was once again ‘McQuaid Week’ as the little Jesuit school hosted the second-biggest cross country race east of the mighty Mississippi for the 49th time last Saturday at Genesee Valley Park, just outside the Lilac City of Rochester.
The top teams were split into three seeded divisions based on school size. And after the morning small school race bolted from the starting line at 11:33 with clockwork precision, the Skaneateles girls emerged in third place.
At race’s end, the Lakers, with 160 points, only trailed East Aurora (68 points) from the Buffalo environs, and Tully (148 points), from just outside the southern border of Syracuse. East Aurora is the top-ranked class B team in New York, and Tully is the odds-on favorite to win the Class D state championship.
Once again Kaitlyn Neal led the state Class C no. 2-ranked Lakers with a fourth-place finish as she traversed the 3-mile course in 18 minutes, 6.9 seconds.
“She’s proving to be real steady and she’s willing to go deep into the well every race,” said co-coach Jack Reed. “Not many kids are willing to do that and it means we have to protect her during our upcoming dual meets so she doesn’t break.”
Continuing her breakout season, junior Liz Dwyer,who just this week turned 16, went out strong in the 300-runner race and held on to take 29th in a good 19:19.2 as she closes the gap on Neal.
“Liz is Liz,” said fellow coach Rob Tuttle. “If we cut back on her workouts or try to finesse her race strategy, we just mess her up. Her instinct right now is right on target.”