The Fonda-Fultonville boys weren’t entirely thrilled with how they performed against the clock, but, believe it or not, there are other metrics in a race.
When it came to how the Braves stacked up against a state Class C rival, Fonda raced just fine, beating Rhinebeck by 16 points to win Division C at the 74th annual Everett Grout Run in Central Park on Saturday.
The Braves, No. 2 in New York, are contemplating a state title, and one of the teams closely chasing them is Rhinebeck. Rhinebeck will have to keep chasing, at least for now.
“It was what we were hoping for,” Fonda coach Mark Therrien said.
On a day of several close battles for individual victories, including repeat Grout championships for Shaker’s Maryanna Lansing in a large-school girls’ division and Albany’s Philo Germano in a large-school boys’ division, the Braves benefitted from some early-season speed work to keep comfortable distance between themselves and Rhinebeck.
Actually, that helped some of the Braves who are half-milers and didn’t quite provide dividends — yet — for some of their more distance-oriented runners.
But Therrien believes that the short-term gain from the shorter, faster works this week for some will turn into long-term gain for everyone else.
“It’s been kind of a funny week for us because we switched over to some faster stuff,” Therrien said. “Some of them were happy with the way they ran, others were disappointed. Some responded quickly to the speed stuff, and others a little slower. The guys who didn’t respond to it immediately are your typical distance guys. Like Hoffie had a good day, but didn’t run particularly fast.”
He was referring to the Braves’ top man, Matt Hoffman, who finished fourth behind Jacob Urys of Mekeel Christian Academy, Dante Penepent of Rhinebeck and Matt Watson of Schuylerville.
The rest of Fonda’s top five included Tyler Angioli, Jimmy Westman, Cameron Gilligan and Omijah Piening.
“Cameron Gilligan, our No. 4 boy, he came out of nowhere,” Therrien said. “He was on our state 4 x 800 relay team, and this is his first year of cross country. The kids came to me and were kind of bummed, and I said I think we’re going to come out of it with a win.
“This is usually the first good gauge we get, because we usually don’t get to run against that many C teams. Now that Cameron is running good, we’re going to expect him to stay up there, which will be helpful.”
Urys, a senior at Mekeel, said he was a little uncertain coming into the Grout Run because he hadn’t run in an invitational yet this season, and he had a little more uncertainty when Penepent wouldn’t go away.
Urys trailed Penepent until there was a half-mile left, took the lead by a stride or so, and kicked away heading toward the chute.
“I knew this would be a challenge, but I also knew it was a flat course, so if I went out fast, I could probably outkick him in the end,” Urys said.
Besides Lansing in Division II, Emily Burns of Guilderland won Division I, and Fonda freshman Jamie Kasza won Class C in girls’ races.
Stephen Booker of Bethlehem won the boys’ Division I race, but Queensbury edged the Eagles for the team title, 73-76. Germano, a senior, won Division II despite some shoe confusion that left him wearing spikes on his left shoe, but not on his right.
Lansing and Burns each had to survive close races.
Newburgh’s Gianna Frontera led the Division II race with less than a half-mile left, but Lansing was right off her shoulder and kicked home for the victory.
“Once she got the lead, I just wanted her to do the work and then kick it in in the end,” Lansing said. “She was looking a little tired, so I thought it was a good time, plus it was near the end.”
In the Division I race, Burns also trailed her top challenger, Beatrice Boylan of Cornwall, but was inspired by a big cheer from the Guilderland boys’ team on the sidelines at the two-mile mark and found the energy to get up for the win.
“I was leading in the beginning, then she started to catch up and passed me,” Burns said. “I was trailing her for most of the race. She went really hard down the hill and got the lead, and our whole team had this big cheering section, and that helped me.”
Boylan and Cornwall were able to edge Guilderland in the team standings by one point, though.
In Class C, Kasza was one of the few who won comfortably.
“She went to the state meet last year, and we’re kind of hoping she can win sectionals,” Therrien said. “This year, it’s going to be tough for her, but right now, she’s running well, and as long as she stays healthy, I don’t think there’s any reason she wouldn’t at least be in the hunt to win sectionals. She’s way stronger.”
The Queensbury and Bethlehem boys had a spirited battle in Division I.
The Eagles’ Booker got the win, but the Spartans were able to keep a more condensed grouping in their top five.
“We knew it was going to be a battle with Bethlehem, great program, and they beat us at our own invitational a couple weeks ago,” Queensbury coach Kevin Sullivan said.
The Falcons’ Germano had the last laugh in Division II, since he was able to pull away for a relatively comfortable win.
He had his trainers on during warmups, then didn’t quite mark off everything on the checklist when he changed into his competition shoes.
He discovered that he had spikes soon enough in the Grout Run, which starts on a grass field but is otherwise mostly run on paved roads in the park.
“I left my left spikes on by accident,” he said with a laugh. “I forgot to take them out. It made me want it a little more, because I was a little unlucky. I just had to go for it.”