Christian Brothers Academy senior Justin Van Epps tried to chase down the lead truck with a furious closing sprint, but never quite caught up.
Maryanna Lansing chased a record, and with her own surge near the end, the Shaker sophomore came a little bit closer to attaining it.
“Before the race, I showed her the list of runners,” said Shaker coach Marbry Gansle. “I wanted to give her some inspiration to join the elite.”
Lansing became one of the few female athletes to notch three victories at the Everett T. Grout Memorial Cross Country Invitational, which was staged Saturday for the 75th time at Central Park.
Lansing and Van Epps were the Division I winners, with Van Epps prevailing in an invitational event for the fourth time this season. Steve Booker of Bethlehem and first-year cross country runner Julia Flower of Schalmont were among the others individual champions, and the Colonie girls had the day’s low point total in taking the Division II crown.
“This course is one of my favorites. It’s fun for me,” Lansing said of the 2.75-mile layout of pavement, grass and dirt. “It feels good to do well here.”
Lansing joined Krissy Haacke of Shaker (1989-91), Emily Malinowski of Bethlehem (2001-03) and Brina Seguine of Columbia (2003, 2005-06) as a three-time Grout champion. Caitlin McTague of Niskayuna won a record four times (1999-2001, 2003).
“It would be nice to win it again,” said Lansing. “We’ll see.”
Lansing was in a race with Megan Kellogg of Queensbury with 600 yards to go as the lead group headed up a slight incline toward Central Park Boulevard.
“It was her, two Queensbury girls and Audrey [Martino of Shaker],” said Gansle. “I told her to pick it up if she wanted it.”
“My coaches and my parents were yelling at me, saying she was getting closer,” said Lansing.
Lansing pulled away to win in 15:49.87, the fastest time for the three girls’ races, and Kellogg placed second (15:58.51) ahead of Martino (16:05.78).
“I’ve run against Maryanna a bunch of times. I knew she was good at kicking,” said Kellogg, a
senior. “I figured if I caught her [at the 600-yard mark], I’d have a chance, but she’s so strong. She’s got such long legs.”
Lansing grabbed her hip for a moment before making her final charge.
“I had a little bit of a cramp. It wasn’t anything. It happens,” said Lansing. “You’ve got to run through it.”
Lansing had opened up about a 10-second lead when she took a quick right off Central Park Boulevard and headed through the woods and down the steep hill before the final grassy stretch. She also prevailed the previous Saturday in the Varsity A Division at the Six Flags Safari Invitational in New Jersey. She won the Grout Division II race last year and was best in Division I as an eighth-grader in 2011.
Three boys have won three Grout Run races, Matt Shafer of Bethlehem being the last (2003-05).
Van Epps was well out in front when he sprinted hard to finish off his Division I victory in 13:43.90.
“Everyone was yelling at me to catch the truck. Catch the truck,” Van Epps said with a laugh. “At the bottom of the hill, I picked it up. I went for it.”
Van Epps took the lead from the get-go and added to his invitational resume that also includes wins at Voorheesville, Fort Plain and Galway. Dan Guzman of Washingtonville placed second (13:56.46), and Paul Nichols of team champion Shaker ran third (14:01.32).
“My confidence is through the roof right now,” said Van Epps. “All of my coaches, and my grandfather, have really been pulling for me.”
Justin’s grandfather, Ray Van Epps, won the Grout Run Division A title in 1962 while competing for Colonie. The younger Van Epps put his name among the event’s long list of winners after a seventh-place effort last spring.
“That was motivation. I saw the seniors who had graduated and factored in my progress, and I thought I had a good shot,” Van Epps said. “I was a little nervous when I got here, then I ran my race.”
Booker won the Division II race in 13:23.30, blowing away the 13:56 he ran last year as a junior when he was tops in Division I.
“It’s truly awesome to win again,” said Booker. “I wasn’t worried too much about time. It was all about place today.”
Alex Shodai of Middletown placed second, and Conor McDonough of team champion Niskayuna was third (14:03.90).
“I was sitting back with the lead pack for the first two miles. I was working off the Middletown runner most of the race, then I used my strength,” said Booker. “I didn’t want to leave it to a sprint. I did a surge kind of thing and maintained it.”
Flower made her move to the front as soon as the start gun sounded and held off Ashley Watson of Schuylerville in the Division C race. The guest race starter, Jack Meader, won the 1948 Grout Run while competing for Nott Terrace.
“She had to do a lot early. I told her to take it to her [Watson] and gain some distance,” said Schalmont coach Richard Kranick. “She has a nice, long stride, but she can’t turn it over like Ashley.”
Flower won in 16:38.59 and Watson, the 2012 Section II Class C runner-up, ran a 16:40.32.
“Julia was ahead by 100 yards at one point. Give Ashley credit. She was there at the end,” said Kranick.
Flower had just enough left down the stretch, though the sophomore did do a jelly-leg as she neared the chute.
“My legs got weak,” Flower said. “I kept it together. I’m happy I won.”
A former swimmer, Flower won earlier this season at Voorheesville and placed second at South Glens Falls a week ago.
“I swam last year. I wanted to stay in shape, so I did outdoor track last spring,” said Flower. “I found out I was better at running than swimming, so I switched and joined the cross country team.”
Colonie’s young girls’ team placed five runners in the top 10 and secured Division II laurels with 29 points. Erin Melly of Connetquot won the race (15:55.79) followed by the Garnet Raiders’ Bellame Bower (16:03.51) and Amanda Chambers (16:14.65).
“It’s the first time we’ve run well aside from duals,” said Colonie coach Frank Myers. “We have young kids who have supplanted older girls, and big meets are still something new to them. They ran free and easy today.”
Myers stressed the importance of making sharp turns rather that wide ones, and his team listened.
“We cut tangents,” said Bower. “Mostly on pavement, but everywhere, to save time. We all probably saved a couple of seconds that way.”
Jordan Healy of Maple Hill took the boys’ Division C race (13:51.59) ahead of Broadalbin-Perth’s Greg Bogdan (14:09.33), and Fonda-Fultonville extended its small-school team winning streak to four years. Queensbury (Division I) and Broadalbin-Perth (Division C) were the other girls’ team champions.
CARY, N.C. — Behind Peyton Engborg and Estela Smith, Saratoga Springs placed fourth among 19 teams in the Girls’ Race of Champions at the Great American Cross Country Festival.
Engbord placed 31st (19:00.1) and Smith finished 35th (19:12.2) over the WakeMed Soccer Park five-kilometer course. Rounding out the Blue Streaks’ roster was Spencer Hayes (41, 19:18.7), Samantha Vetter (46, 19:23.6), Sarah Morin (49, 19:26.6), Keellyn Cummings (61, 19:41.5) and Carly Vetter (69, 19:49.4).
Jay Navin placed 17th (15:30.0), Aidan Tooker ran 26th (15:39.7), and Saratoga took fifth in a group of 23 teams in the Boys’ Race of Champions.
Other Saratoga runners were Brent Freestone (36, 15:50.2), Ethan North (93, 16:46.6), Joe Verro (103, 16:55.2), Taylor Fenoff (125, 17:17.2) and Chris Edwards (151, 18:07.2).
Teams: Shaker 34, Christian Brothers Academy 46, Washingtonville 93, Ballston Spa 99, Lansingburgh 119, Glens Falls 129, Gloversville 177, Albany 183.
Individuals: Justin Van Epps (CBA), 13:43.90; Daniel Guzman (Wash), 13:56.36; Paul Nichols (Shak), 14:01.32; Liam O’Brien (CBA), 14:14.09; Mike Miller (Lans), 14:15.50; Jack Fallon-Underwood (Shak), 14:19.94; Daniel Hausemann (Shaker), 14:21.15; Thomas Hale (Shak), 14:22.59; Dante Carr (Lans), 14:25.43; Christopher Bouchard (Shak), 14:26.28.
Teams: Niskayuna 48, Bethlehem 52, Connetquot 66, Middletown 95, Queensbury 97, Cobleskill-Richmondville 135, Schenectady 180.
Individuals: Steve Booker (BC), 13:23.30; Alex Shodai (Midd), 13:31.76; Conor McDonough (Nisk), 14:03.90; Liam Kelly (Conn), 14:07.45; Tim Monahan (Conn), 14:08.06; Matthew McDermott (Nisk), 14:09.68; Alex Carlson (BC), 14:11.19; Zane Belden (Q), 14:11.99; Andrew Canavan (Nisk), 14:19.20; Keith Machabee (BC), 14:37.50.
Teams: Fonda-Fultonville 103, Maple Hill 148, Schuylerville 151, Schalmont 176, Berlin 196, Cohoes 198; Ravena-Coymans-Selkirk 200, Granville 202, Dover 204, Fort Plain 205, Mechanicville 235, Stillwater 249, Saratoga Catholic 270, Broadalbin-Perth 274, Taconic Hills 333, Catskill 355, Mekeel Christian Academy 449.
Individuals: Jordan Healy (MH), 13:51.59; Greg Bogdan (BP), 14:09.33; Jordan Ahrens (FP), 14:17.69; Ethan Jaynes (Still), 14:24.83; Cameron Gilligan (FF), 14:35.81; Jon Riccardi (Schal), 14:38.21; Angel Colon (RCS), 14:38.93; Dylan DeSorbo (FF), 14:58.44; Kevin McMorrow (Dov), 14:59.80; John Ferrone (LG), 15:01.58.
GIRLS’ DIVISION I
Teams: Queensbury 33, Shaker 36, North Rockland 63, Cobleskill-Richmondville 143, Middletown 150, Albany 164, Gloversville 172, Lansingburgh 204.
Individuals: Maryanna Lansing (Shak), 15:49.87; Megan Kellogg (Q), 15:58.51; Audrey Martino (Shak), 16:05.78; Sherri Metcalfe (Q), 16:14.21; Emily Guinther (Q), 16:30.57; Payton Czupil (Shak), 16:41.54; Alexandra Harris (NR), 16:43.91; Lizbet Navarro (Midd), 16:48.31; Kathryn Ackner (Q), 16:54.44; Kailee Stephens (NR), 16:57.59.
Teams: Colonie 29, Bethlehem 60, Connetquot 70, Emma Willard 150, St. Francis Prep 154, Mohonasen 155, Ballston Spa 166, Schenectady 193.
Individuals: Erin Melly (Conn), 15:55.79; Bellame Bower (Col), 16:03.51; Amanda Chambers (Col), 16:14.65; Cara Sherman (Moh), 16:17.89; Courtney Breiner (EW), 16:25.92; Kathryn Tenney (Col), 16:34.06; Julia Champagne (BC), 16:38.19; Shannen Kerin (Col), 16:50.19; Sarah Vener (BC), 16:52.02; Marilyn O’Brien (Col), 16:53.52.
Teams: Broadalbin-Perth 45, Schuylerville 93, Cohoes 103, Catskill 114, Schalmont 117, Mechanicville 151, Maple Hill 167, Saratoga Catholic 179, Lake George 210, Berlin 218, Fort Plain 233.
Individuals: Julia Flower (Schal), 16:38.59; Ashley Watson (Sch), 16:40.32; Sarah Carter (Coh), 16:54.90; Jordyn DeNeuville (BP), 16:55.54; Victoria Opalka (BP), 17:10.30; Monica Strain (MH), 17:13.27; Coreena Monroe (BP), 17:19.76; Mackenzie DeZolt (BP), 17:26.99; Julia Freemire (Sch), 17:27.60; Ellie Donlon (Dov), 17:41.97.