The heat was on — literally and figuratively.
For cross-country runners, the Section XI Championships, a state qualifying meet, are akin to a pass-or-fail test.
“Final exam time,” said Bishop McGann-Mercy coach Les Williams.
The top priority is qualifying for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships that will be run Nov. 11 at Wayne Central School in Ontario Center.
Among those making the trip upstate will be Shoreham-Wading River’s Joe Krause and Adam Zelin and Mercy’s Michael Senica.
Usually it’s downright cold by the time the Section XI Championships roll around, but that wasn’t the case Friday when temperatures reached the mid-70s and it was more humid than many runners at Sunken Meadow State Park would have liked.
Krause, a junior, missed qualifying for the state meet last year by one excruciating place. This time around he came in third place in Class B, completing the five-kilometer race in 17 minutes, 44.64 seconds. He finished behind Miller Place sophomore Tom Cirrito (17:12.66) and Southampton senior Gustavo Morastitla (17:27.35).
The weather didn’t seem to bother Krause, who said he did three or four runs a day over the summer while working as a lifeguard.
“This is like mildish,” said Krause, whose shirt was soaked after the race. “I liked it. I’ve been running in the heat all summer.”
Following Krause were East Hampton junior Ryan Fowkes (17:55.94) in fourth and Zelin (17:58.44), a sophomore, in fifth.
A hip injury kept Senica from competing in the Section XI Division Championships a week earlier, but didn’t stop him from qualifying for the state meet for a second straight year. Senica collapsed at the finish line, a reminder of just how demanding the race and course are.
“I felt good all the way up to Cardiac” Hill, Senica said, adding, “I was dizzy from Cardiac on, so that wasn’t too good.”
Williams said: “I thought he did a great job because he hasn’t been able to run for two weeks. I’m proud of him.”
Senica’s time of 19:22.89 brought him 10th place in Class C.
Senica said his hip did not bother him. As for the heat and humidity, well, that was another story. “I hate it,” he said.
As for the meet itself, Senica said, “There’s a lot of pressure so it’s like either you show up or you don’t.”
Riverhead’s Ryan Carrick might have figured it wasn’t going to be his day when felt the humidity in the morning. The junior was the top Riverhead runner, coming in 28th in Class A in 18:04.16. That was well off the 17:35.31 he had run in the Division Championships, an indication of the toll the weather took.
“I’m a little bit disappointed,” Carrick said. “… I just wasn’t there from the beginning. I felt it.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River junior Joe Krause, who missed qualifying for the state meet by one place last year, is heading upstate this time around. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)