Courtney Tedeschi’s final high school cross country season started the same way so many did before.
In a kick-start to what the Berne-Knox-Westerlo senior is hoping will be a breakthrough campaign, Tedeschi soared to her fifth consecutive Guilderland Invitational title Saturday on the demanding hills of Tawasentha Park.
“It’s not that big of a surprise if you know her. I’ve worked with thousands of kids, and I’ve never had anyone quite like her,” Berne-Knox-Westerlo coach Bill Tindale said. “She has an amazing work ethic. Every day, the focus is on nutrition, flexibility, strength training. It’s an every day, all year-long deal for her.”
Saturday’s win was a very big deal for the 17-year-old team captain.
“In my room, I have a wall of fame. My uncle made a shelf for me,” said Tedeschi. “These [Guilderland Invitational] medals are right in the middle because this meet has always been kind of special for me. I have two on one side and two on the other side, and I have a spot between them for the fifth one all ready.”
Tedeschi clocked a 16:51.98 over the 2.7-mile course to take the small-school varsity race, beating out Shelby Aarden (17:23.52) and Melissa Lodge (17:26.93) of team champion Hopkinton (Mass.) with the fastest time among all girls. Emily Carmichael of Thousand Islands (Ontario) won the large-school varsity race in 17:00.11.
“It feels good to know my training is in line,“ said Tedeschi. “It feels good to get the first one under your belt.”
Tedeschi used the Guilderland Invitational as a launching pad to the state meet last season, when she placed eighth. Earlier, she notched victories at the Section II Class D and Western Athletic Conference meets, and had invitational wins at Johnstown and Fort Plain.
“I have so much built up inside me that’s waiting to come out,” she said. “I’m definitely thinking sectional championship for myself, but most important, I would like to win a state championship. Last year, I had a 100-degree temperature three days before the race. I’m going to do everything I can, mentally and physically, to prepare for that.”
Tedeschi already has one state title to her credit, with a triumph last spring in the Division 2 2,000-meter steeplechase.
“Her track season was fantastic. Her summer was fantastic. Her cross country season, there were some disappointments,” Tindale said of the 2011 all-state second-team selection. “There were some rough spots, and she took them hard, but right now her attitude is great and she’s got it going again. If we hit it right, she’ll be competing for something big at the end.”
Tedeschi ended all five of her Guilderland invy races with a winning margin of at least 22 seconds.Saturday’s effort was her first at Guilderland under 17 minutes.
“As an eighth-grader, I had my first varsity race here and my first win here. After I won it the second year, I never thought I’d win five years in a row,” Tedeschi said.
“The only thing I can compare it to is when Katie White won six Section II [Class C] titles in a row in the early 90s,” said Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons coach Jon Broderick. “It’s tough to win anything five years in a row.”
Tedeschi was never seriously threatened after gaining the front position about a quarter-mile into the race. A half-mile in, she held a 10-second lead, and steadily increased it.
“I’ve never been nervous before this race, but coming into it, there was a little more pressure. No one was putting the pressure on me. I put it on myself,” Tedeschi said. “Before the race, I told myself, ‘I’m prepared for this. Do your own race,’ and the positive thoughts helped out.”
“She’s an amazing runner,” said Guilderland coach and meet director Dave Kosier. “I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do this year.”
Guilderland sophomore Emily Burns placed third (17:47.17) in her cross country debut, and four of her schoolmates finished in the top 10 as the Lady Dutch edged Shenendehowa for the large-school team title, 39-31.
“She had always played soccer. I talked to her a couple of times about coming out, and last year, she was almost here. At the last minute, she decided to stick with soccer. Midway through the summer, she decided to run,” Kosier said of Burns, one of the area’s rising underclassman distance runners in track.
Bailey Kowalczyk and Caroline Hampton of Shenendehowa placed second (17:31.22) and fourth (17:51.10), respectively.
“We did great. I didn’t expect this to happen,” said Burns. “We knew Shenendehowa would be tough. First meet of the season, on our turf, and we proved ourselves.”
Running in his first cross country race since the 2010 Federation meet, Columbia junior Kyle Gronostaj placed fourth (14:16.94) for the best finish among Section II boys in the large-school varsity competition.
Gronostaj was named an all-state third-team runner as a freshman after placing ninth at the New York championships and then 21st at the Federation event. He was advised by doctors not to run cross country as a sophomore due to a growth spurt that effected his bone density.
“It’s good to be back. I’m looking forward to a big year,” said Gronostaj. “Today was a good start. I wanted to be the top guy from Section II.”
Large School Varsity Division
Teams: Collegiate 54, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 91, Shenendehowa 125, Guilderland 134, Thousand Islands 143, Averill Park 153, Monroe-Woodbury 172, Gloversville 180, Mount Anthony Union 192, Ballston Spa 232, Columbia 268, Mohonasen 353.
Individuals: Marc Brandmyer (MAU), 14:12.01; Ty Buckley (Coll), 14:13.27; Eric Wynands (TI), 14:16.15; Kyle Gronostaj (Colu), 14:16.94; Andrew Tario (AP), 14:18.84; John Knox (Glove), 14:25.00; Marco Pompilj (Coll), 14:26.76; Dan Janeczko (Shen), 14:30.74; Liam Buckley (Coll), 14:45.43; Jared Short (BH), 14:51.39.
Small School Varsity Division
Teams: Maple Hill 85 (48), Chatham 85 (63), Saranac 105, Mekeel Christian Academy 121, Cobleskill-Richmondville 133, Schalmont 135, Berne-Knox-Westerlo 198, Broadalbin-Perth 201, Peru 202, Seton Catholic 204, Johnstown 231, Stillwater 292.
Individuals: Jordan Healy (MH), 14:35.23; Ross Wightman (Cha), 14:47.77; Jacob Urys (MCA), 14:51.87; Greg Bogdan (BP), 15:15.04; Ethan Jaynes (Still), 15:18.46; Ryun Murphy (MCA), 15:22.90; Mitchell Ryan (SC), 15:26.88; Adam Forti (BKW), 15:35.04; Adrian Barber (MH), 15:35.80; Jonathan DiCesare (CR), 15:36.72.
Large School Varsity Division
Teams: Guilderland 31, Shenendehowa 39, Thousand Islands 62, Columbia 115, Ballston Spa 135, Gloversville 150, Averill Park 158.
Individuals: Emily Carmichael (TI), 17:00.11; Bailey Kowalczyk (Shen), 17:31.22; Emily Burns (Guild), 17:47.17; Caroline Hampton (Shen), 17:51.10; Chenya D’Arcangelis (Mohon), 17:58.14; Jenna Robinson (Guild), 18:11.83; Christina Herkenham (Guild), 18:14.15; Dominica Bleichert (Shen), 18:15.10; Michelle Fish (Guild), 18:21.98; Taylor Tommell (Guild), 18:23.07.
Small School Varsity Division
Teams: Hopkinton 47, Maple Hill 77, Mount Anthiny Union 95, Peru 106, Broadalbin-Perth 147, Berne-Knox-Westerlo 160, Cobleskill-Richmondville 164.
Individuals: Courtney Tedeschi (BKW), 16:51.98; Shelby Aarden (Hop), 17:23.52; Melissa Lodge (Hop), 17:26.93; Victoria Hathaway (Still), 17:51.24; Hannah Riordan (MH), 17:59.98; Kelly Pasko (MH), 18:13.73; Margaret Champagne (SC), 18:19.04; Anna Curtin (MH), 18:24.01; Meghan Mazzella (Peru), 18:42.94; Erin Clark (Cha), 18:45.09.
Jon Holmes of Colonie posted a leading time of 7:52.6 at the Niskayuna Cross Country Ekiden. Holmes teamed with Jordan Johnson and Ryan Mulsen to win the 3x2,500 relay in 24:45.1.
Leah Triller (9:17.8) and Kaylee Scott (9:19.1) gave Holy Names the top two times in the girls’ event. They were joined by Estela Smith in a winning the 3x2,500 relay (28:48.9).
2,500 — Jon Holmes (Colonie), 7:52.6; Max Morgan (Shaker), 8:04.4; Nathan Donaldson (New Hartford), 8:08.2; Jordan Johnson (Colonie), 8:14.6; John O’Connor (Shaker), 8:16.2; Nick Raponi (Amsterdam), 8:20.9; Dominick Brion (Niskayuna), 8:23.2; Dan Ruiz (Shaker), 8:24.6; Greg Thomas (Niskayuna), 8:25.5; Adam Schwenzfeier (Shaker), 8:30.2.
3x2,500 relay — Colonie (Jon Holmes, Jordan Johnson, Ryan Mulson), 24:45.1; Shaker (Max Morgan, Jeff Perez, Adma Schwerzfeier), 25:16.4; New Hartford (Gaborel Ponce, Sam Cittadano, Nathan Donaldson), 25:36.1.
2,500 — Leah Triller (Holy Names), 9:17.8; Kaylee Scott (Holy Names), 9:19.1; Felicia Sciortino (Niskayuna), 9:20.2.; Kaitlin Close (Holy Names), 9:36.8; Lydia Williams (Holy Names), 9:37.2; Bellame Bower (Colonie), 9:37.9; Kirsten Kaminski (Colonie), 9:46.5; Kaitie Schillaci (Colonie), 9:46.5; Estela Smith (Holy Names), 9:52.6; Alicia Bousa (Colonie), 9:58.1.
3x2,500 relay — Holy Names B (Lydia Williams, Kaylee Scott, Estela Smith), 28:48.9; Holy Names A (Kaitlin Close, Leah Triller), 29:05.0; Niskayuna (Emily DeWald, Felicia Sciortino, Danielle Skufca), 29:28.9.
Mayfield senior Tom McClellan and freshman Jackie Kasza of Fonda-Fultonville were the individual winners at the 3.1-mile Blackbird Invitational.
Team scoring: Fonda-Fultonville 68, CBA 78, Duanesburg 121, Berlin 150, Albany 154, Lansingburgh 157, Voorheesville 177, Albany Academy 186, Mechanicville 188, Mayfield 203, Scotia-Glenville 213, Fort Plain/Canajoharie 296, Schenectady 302.
Tom McClellan (May), 16:43; Philo Germano (Alb), 16:55; Matthew Hoffman (Fon), 17:06; Justin VanEpps (CBA), 17:41; Tyler
Angioli (Fon), 17:47; Mike Miller (Lans), 17;55; Joe Becker (Voor), 18:01; Jimmy Westman (Fon), 18:10; Griffin Keegan (Acad), 18:13; Kaushik Pilar (CBA), 18:20.
Team scoring: Fonda-Fultonville 48, Albany Academy 53, Mechanicville 67, Lansingburgh 96, Duanesburg 115, Voorheesville 155, Schenectady 158, Berlin 189, Albany 192.
Jamie Kusza (Fon), 20:16; Morgan Wojtusik (Acad), 21:47; Kimberly Geniti (Fon), 21:52; Julia Lindsay (Sco), 21:55; Samantha Phelps (Fon), 22:14; Emily Houlihan (Sco), 22:19; Arissa Spitalny (Mech), 22:26; Schyler McGuire (Mech), 22:26; Caitlyn Maloney (Lan), 22:29; Cara Zanta (Sco), 22:45.