On a chilly day at Sunken Meadow State Park Friday, in temperatures ideal for cross country runners, the best of Suffolk County high schools vied for a chance to represent the section at the state competition next week.
The Shoreham-Wading River girls came into the meet with high expectations after winning the Section XI Division Championships Oct. 21.
The girls didn’t disappoint.
Behind a first-place finish in the Class B race from freshman Katherine Lee, the Wildcats emerged as county champions and will advance as a team to the state championships.
Lee jumped out to a quick lead, going ahead by nearly 20 meters by the time the runners hit the main stretch after the start. Coming down the stretch to the finish line, the next runner was still off in the distance. Lee ran 19 minutes 15.38 seconds, a little slower than her time at the divisions.
Lee noted that in the smaller race, she didn’t have as much competition pushing her as in the division race.
Teammate Alexandra Hays was the next runner in 19:39.13. Francesca Lilly (20:14.21), Kaitlyn Ohrtman (20:21.50) and Amanda Dwyer (21:34.99) rounded out the team win.
The five fastest runners from each race proceed to the state competition and the team of seven with the best score qualify. The McGann-Mercy girls finished second in Class C, but had three girls qualify.
Junior Meg Tuthill was fourth in 21:05.3 to qualify for the third straight year. Teammates Kaitlyn Butterfield (21:48.75) and Devyn O’Brien (21:51.82), both sophomores, also qualified.
In the boys Class B race, Shoreham senior Matt Gladysz posted a personal best time of 16:56.6 to finish first and qualify for states. He said he felt in good shape for the first time in quite awhile.
Teammate Michael Godfrey was fifth in 17:14.90 and he will join Gladysz for the trip to the state competition.
In the girls Class A race, Riverhead seventh grader Megan Kielbasa finished 11th in 20:21.56, missing the states by only three places. Her time was more than 33 seconds faster than in the division races the week previous. The cool weather was a help but so was the push she felt from so many other runners in her race.
In the boys Class A race, Nicholas Cunha ran the race in 17:32.27 for the top finish for Riverhead. His time was about 10 seconds faster than the previous week.
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