SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The Saratoga Springs girls cross country team left little to the imagination in Monday’s rescheduled Section II cross country championships, racing to its 29th Class A title, leaving the dramatic finishes to the other classes.
The Shenendehowa boys team captured the Class A title by a single point and the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls squad captured the Class B squad with a move on the final stretch to edge Mohonasen for its sixth straight title Monday at Saratoga Spa State Park.
The Blue Streaks earned 30 points based on its top five finishers with second-place Shenendehowa running behind with 78 followed by Niskayuna and Bethlehem with 101 and 103 points respectively.
Sophomore Ella Kurto led all runners across with her time of 17 minutes, 2.30 seconds followed by Penn State-bound and Ballston Spa harrier Faith DeMars second at 17:24.54. Saratoga’s Sheridan Wheeler was third at 17:24.92 with Shenendehowa’s Jada Dennis fourth at 17:27.09.
Blue Streak freshman Mckinley Wheeler was seventh overall at 17:41.10 followed by eighth-grader Anya Belisle ninth at 17:47.85 and freshman McKenzie Hart rounding out the scoring 10th overall at 17:54.17.
This year is was Kurto blazing the path for the Blue Streaks at Spa State Park, taking over the reins for current NC State runner Kelsey Chmiel.
“Kelsey taught these girls how to compete and that lasts,” Saratoga Springs girls cross country coach Linda Kranick said. “The oldest ones are sophomores, so we have some good years ahead of us.
Another program that continued to leave it’s mark on the Spa State Park course was the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys program, earning the Class B title with 21 team points.
The Spartans placed all five runners in the top 10 followed by Scotia-Glenville with 64 and Christian Brothers Academy a distant third with 114 points. Averill Park was fourth overall with 128 and Albany Academy was fifth with 138.
Sophomore Ryan Allison led the Spartans with his first-place time of 15:15.85 followed by senior teammate Will Marchant at 15:49.33. Freshman Matthew Rounds was fifth overall at 15:58.43 followed by senior teammates Kevin Board at 15:59.13 and Dante Ubriaco at 16:21.43.
“The first thing is that it's a completely different group of guys than the people that graduated,” Burnt Hills coach Chip Button said. “A few of these guys have been to states before, I think Kevin (Board) was our fifth guy there a year ago, Dante (Ubriaco) was there and Ryan (Allison) was an alternate.
“With the guys that graduated, they were at the state meet when they were freshman, state championships, this is a completely different group. The chemistry and everything like that is very different than what it has been and that's been really fun.”
Allison ran to daylight out of the state park woods and had a trail-length lead over his own teammate, Will Marchant turning for home and awaiting the final results.
“It's really amazing to see the work that I put in the past year to see where it has gotten me and how far I've improved and to see the team that we have now, to see how far we've gotten this season and how well we've performed and how much we've accomplished it's really nice,” Ryan Allison said.
While he earned a precious single point for the Spartans, he knew he had to root and rely on his teammates to help deliver another title.
“It's nice to know that I put in the work, but also my teammates have my back too and they're also putting in as much work as me. I can count of them to do a good job and winning as well.”
While the all-day event was about running and times, it also had a lot of math and some double-checking of the score sheet as Shenendehowa edged Guilerland 48-49 followed by Shaker in third place with 83 points, Niskayuna fourth with 106 and Saratoga fifth overall with 114.
“We put seven guys ahead of their five (Guilderland), so clearly our depth kind of came through today, but it was the back and forth,” Shendehowa coach Lance Jordan said. “It came down to at the line, a Nisky guy coming in, then Guilderland guy, then a Shen, it was just back and forth with the points. It was huge.”
Coaches stress how important each runner is throughout the season and Monday proved those statements out.
“The mental preparation that we kind of put these guys through sets us up for a day like today,” Jordan said. “We knew it was going to come down to a close battle like that, so we weren't necessarily going after just Guilderland, we knew at the line that if we beat a Shaker kid, that's a point, if we beat a Saratoga kid that's a point at the line. We definitely prepared for that today.
“Last year we win by three points and it came down to a very similar race, we knew it was going to be the same today.”
Niskayuna senior Thomas Ragone was the Class A champion, running the course in 15:18.87 followed by Guilderland seniors Sean O’Brien and Jack Parsons for the top three spots.
Ryan Shanahan started the scoring for the Plainsmen with his fourth-place 15:29.76 and then a bevy of Shenendehowa runners close by.
Sophomore Nathan Brimhall was eighth at 15:39.21, senior Bryan Spence was ninth at 15:39.78 and junior Anthony Barbera was 11th at 15:45.69. Kyle Gronau provided the right stuff, finishing 16th overall at 16:01.69.
The Burnt Hills girls team matched the close-meet drama, edging out Mohonasen by seven points to claim the Class B title later in the day.
The Spartans 4-5-6 finishers helped it finish with 40 points overall followed by Mohonasen with 47, Emma Willard third with 94, Scotia-Glenville fourth with 119 and Averill Park fifth-overall with 122.
“I expected it to be close, I wouldn't be surprised if it came down to our sixth person even,” Burnt Hills coach Megan James said. “In the last few years Mohonasen has really come on very strong so it's made it more exciting, but it’s also very nerve-wracking.
Mohonasen junior Kate Sherman led the way in the Class B event, covering the course in 18:04.03 and Averill Park freshman Logan Barsalow second at 18:20.11.
Spartan eighth-grader Mia Paolino started the scoring with her time of 18:32.50 and fourth-place finish before sophomore Jamisen Vendetti led the charge for fifth at 18:40.49. Sophomore Emily Berg was right behind her in sixth at 18:41.70. Isabel Vogel was 11th overall at 19:03.94 with junior Madison Whited rounding out the scoring in 14th at 19:49.01 and teammate Madison Smith was there for the sixth-place tie-breaker in 15th at 19:52.80.
“Jamisen made a move and the other girls just went with her and they had three in a row and that was a game-changer,” James said.
The young Spartan squad was prepared to take on Mohonasen, adding more competition to the class-level championship.
“I think it's good because knowing that Mohonasen is so strong it really motivates them and now that this is our sixth consecutive win, so they really had a lot at stake and they knew Mohon was coming on strong,” James said. “I think they needed that push and I don't like to just cruise, I want them to have a fair fight, so it's good to have competition.”
Fonda-Fultonville captured the Class C boys title with 70 points, Greenville was second with 85 followed by LaSalle third with 116, Schuylerville fourth at 119 and Ichabod Crane fifth with 149.
Greenwich almost swept the finish of the Class C event finishing 1-3-4-5-7 for 20 points as Greenville was second with 84 points. Ichabod Crane was third with 119 followed by Voorheesville with 130 and Broadalbin-Perth fifth with 131.
Berlin edged Mayfield, 60-67 with Lake George finishing third in the girls Class D championship races.
Lake George captured the boys Class D title with 54 points, followed by Chatham with 75 and Maple Hill third with 77.
For complete results visit www.section2harrier.com