With a significant contribution from five Liverpool runners, both of the Section III cross country teams earned first-place finishes in last Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
They held the state meet on Long Island, at Sunken Meadow State Park, which contains one of the toughest 3.1-mile courses anywhere thanks to long climbs and descents.
Add to it plenty of mud from weeks of rain and all the runners faced a serious challenge, but the Section III contingents were not fazed, having gone through worse conditions a week earlier in the Nov. 3 sectional meet at Chittenango.
In particular, Liverpool’s girls duo of junior Jenna Schulz and senior Madison Neuner were motivated to do well in the wake of the Warriors’ narrow one-point defeat to Fayetteville-Manlius in the sectional meet.
Schulz would finish in 18 minutes, 20.9 seconds, fourth in the 106-runner field. North Rockland’s Katelyn Tuohy, the nation’s top-ranked runner, won in 17:02.1 over Saratoga Springs’ Kelsey Chmiel (17:20.6) as F-M’s Claire Walters was third in 17:42.6.
Meanwhile, Neuner had a strong race of her own, getting to 12th place in 19:08.3, just missing out on a top-10 finish as it took 19:02.7 from North Rockland’s Haleigh Morales to get there.
Even with F-M having its 12-year run as state champions ended by Saratoga in yet another one-point decision (46-47), Section III, its All-Star team led by Schulz and Neuner, won with 196 points to Section II’s runner-up total of 244 points.
Oswego’s Molly Fitzgibbons made her way to 19th place in 19:22.9, with Rome Free Academy’s Gianna Capoccia getting 20th place in 19:24.6. Baldwinsville’s Justus-Holden Betts rounded out the All-Star squad, finishing 39th in 19:58.2.
The boys state Class A race followed, with Liverpool occupying three spots on the sectional All-Star squad thanks to the presence of senior Nathan Reeves, senior Nick Brancato and sophomore Jake McGowan.
Reeves made his way to 15th place in 16:28.3, not far from the 16:19.7 it took to finish in the top 10. Brancato got to 29th place in 16:51.4 as McGowan got just under the 17-minute mark, finishing 39th in 16:59.9.
Those finishes, along with F-M’s dominance of the state team event, helped Section III climb again to the top of the standings with 205 points as, once more, Section II (324 points) was second.
To help Reeves, Brancato and McGowan in the sectional All-Star ranks, RFA’s Nate Sletten finished in 17:06.9 for 47th place, two spots ahead of West Genesee’s Matt Bartolotta, who was 49th in 17:08.5.
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