Saratoga Springs cross country coach Linda Kranick can only wonder what would have happened if six of her seven young runners hadn’t taken a fall during the Nike Cross Nationals Saturday in Portland, Ore.
The Blue Streaks, competing as Kinetic Running Club, placed fourth in a field of 22 elite teams over an interesting and challenging course set up at Portland Meadows Racetrack, but not before they literally had to pick themselves up and get back into the race.
“I was zooey. Not even 100
meters into the race, the first kid fell,” said Kranick by phone from a hospital emergency room, where she said one of her girls received 10 stitches after being spiked in the thigh.
“One falls, and it’s like a chain reaction. [Keelin] Hollowood got spiked in the ribs. Cassie [Goutos] was on her belly, then Brianne [Bellon] went down. They were petrified. They did not want to get stepped on.
“Maddie Carr lost her shoe in the first 400 meters and ran the whole race with only one shoe.”
But the Saratoga girls got over the initial shock to score 193 points and place fourth in the fourth appearance in the five-year history of the meet. Queensbury followed in fifth (204), and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake was eighth (251). The top individual from Section II was Queensbury sophomore Danielle Winslow, who placed fourth overall in 17:48.4 on the 5k course.
Shenendehowa took seventh in the boys’ race behind senior Alex Leuchanka, who placed 19th overall in 15:40.5.
The Shenedehowa boys and Saratoga girls qualified for the prestigious event by placing first and second, respectively, in the New York Qualifier the previous week at Bowdoin State Park. Burnt Hills and Queensbury were awarded two of the four at-large spots the next day, and a handful of runners also qualified as individuals.
Runners covered 21⁄2 loops on a course that was anything but ordinary. Obstacles included a series of camel back humps that tested the legs and hale bales that had to be hurdled.
“We’re very proud of the way they pulled it together,” said Kranick, who had hoped her team could finish as high as second behind three-time winner Fayetteville-Manlius (66). “We were absolutely last after the first kilometer. They recovered quickly, composed themselves and never gave up.”
Hollowood, an eighth-grader, was the first Saratoga runner across the line, placing 40th overall (21st in the team standings) in 18:38.3. Sophomore Amanda Burroughs was 47th, followed by sophomore Sydney King (80th); Goutos, a junior, (82nd); and Carr, another eighth-grader (91st), Bellon and Megan Conway completed the team.
Kranick attributed all of the spills to a number of factors. The field was larger this year (198 runners finished), resulting in tighter starting boxes (only four runners from each team could toe the line). And because the conditions were not as muddy as in past years, the early pace was much faster.
“It just all closed in,” Kranick said of the start. “In all our years of coaching, I have never seen this many spike marks on kids.
“We’re very proud of the way they ran — they’re one tough group of kids. Our eighth-graders showed tremendous composure.”
For its four appearances in the Nike national race, Saratoga now shows a first (2004), second (2005), third (2007) and fourth, and returns the entire team for next season.
“Right after the race, the kids all said, ‘I want to do this again,’ ” Kranick said.
Winslow was followed by Shenendehowa freshman Lizzie Predmore, running as an individual, who took sixth in 17:53 behind race winner Chelsey Svinsan (17:26.9) of Green Hill, Texas. Senior Sam Roecker of Burnt Hills was ninth in 17:58.2.
Queensbury’s other top runners included Brittany Winslow (45th), Carl Wynn (84th) and Morgan Mueller (90th).
For Burnt Hills, which placed fifth in the national final a year ago, Roecker was backed up by sophomore Molly Pezzulo (75th), senior Meaghan Gregory (88th), sophomore Riley Wilk (111th) and junior Kiersten Anderson (128th).
Other individual girls running were Danika Simonson of Shenendehowa, 77th, and junior Roxanne Henningson of Greenwich, 106th.
The Shenendehowa boys compiled 222 points to place second behind North
Spokane, Wash. (134). The boys’ individual winner was Reed Connor of The Woodlands TC, Texas, who ran a 15:13.6.
Joining Leuchanka on the Plainsmen scoring quintet were junior Dan Harris, 60th; senior Brian Trainor, 68th; senior Bill Danaher, 82nd; and senior Jim Glover, 145th.