Most area cross country teams have already packed away their uniforms for the season. But for the Saratoga Springs girls, the season is just beginning.
The Blue Streaks, ranked second in the country, hope to add another chapter in a remarkable saga of postseason achievements today when they compete in the 37th annual New York State Federation Championships at Bowdoin State Park in Wappingers Falls.
Also picked to win a title today are the Shaker boys, state Class AA champions, with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in pursuit. The girls’ race goes off at 12:15 p.m., followed by the boys at 1.
With 17 Federation girls’ team titles to their credit, the defending champion Streaks are not only solid favorites to win again today, but also hope to again extend their season into December.
Next Saturday, back at Bowdoin State Park, the group of girls will compete in the New York qualifier for the Nike Cross County Nationals as Kinetic Running Club, looking to earn their sixth trip to the nationals in Portland, Ore., in seven years.
“This is the most exciting time of the season,” said coach Linda Kranick. “We’re ready to go.”
Saratoga finished second in the Class AA state public high school meet last week at Pawling to a powerful Fayetteville-Manlius squad that holds down the No. 1 national ranking. F-M is taking today off to prepare for next week’s national qualifier.
Still, the Streaks need to be at their best today in a meet that merges all classes into a single race.
“There are a lot of good local schools,” said Kranick. “Queensbury is going to do a lot better in this race.”
East Aurora, third in the merged team results a week ago, is another school to watch, said Kranick, as is North Rockland.
“We love this course,” said Kranick, whose girls won both the Great American Festival in North Carolina and Chile Pepper Festival in Arkansas this season, “and it’s the last meet of the season on our school schedule, so it should be exciting.”
Sophomore Keelin Hollowood is usually in front of the pack for the Blue Streaks, with veterans Sidney King (senior), Amanda Burroughs (senior), Margaret McDonald (junior) and Madison Carr (sophomore) in pursuit. But pressing them are two improved runners, eighth-grader Estela Smith and sophomore Taylor Driscoll.
“Estela Smith is doing a great job,” said Kranick of the runner who often grabs the last of five scoring positions for the team. “We have a really nice group of kids.”
Individually, the Section II runner with the best chance is Queensbury’s Brittany Winslow, who was fifth last year, but she may be no match for Cornwall’s Aisling Cuff, the top-rated girls’ runner in the country.
Christian Delago, Michael Libruk and Jon Vallecorsa are the top guns for the Shaker boys’ team, which was impressive in the state meet. Several top schools, including Fayetteville-Manlius, Warwick Valley, Rush Henrietta and McQuaid are not competing today.
Burnt Hills, however, finished second in the last two Federation meets, and has a quality runner in Otis Ubriaco, who placed second in this race last year and third as a sophomore.
The top Section II performer last week was Saratoga’s Sam Place, who ran a close second to Chris Buchanan of Cicero-North Syracuse in the fastest times of the day.
Buchanan is not running today, but Place and Ubriaco face another talented foe. Edward Owens of Packer Collegiate, an independent school in Brooklyn, is the top-rated runner in the state.