ROTTERDAM — So many good things are happening with the Mohonasen High School girls’ track and field team.
Numbers are way up, athletes are notching personal bests left and right and one of its distance runners is even among the national leaders after a stellar performance Saturday at Bethlehem’s Fleet Feet Lady Eagles Invitational.
Kate Sherman placed second there in the 3,000-meter run in 10:52.39 to mark the third-fastest time among all eighth-graders in the United States this spring season.
“One of my goals for the season was to break 11 minutes,” Sherman, who ran for Mohonasen’s modified team last year, said during a break from Tuesday’s practice. “I didn’t expect to run that yet, and I beat it by quite a bit.”
Kristin Thompson of Warwick Valley leads the nation’s eighth-graders in the 3,000 with a 10:38.13. Sherman’s time is right behind another New York runner, Avery Widen of Bronxville, who clocked a 10:51.10.
“During the race, I thought I could do a little more,” Sherman said. “After two laps, I went for it. I was afraid I was going to die.”
In only her second varsity 3,000, that didn’t happen.
Colonie sophomore Kathryn Tenney won Saturday’s 3,000 (10:39.75) and Bethlehem freshman Rachel Hodge placed third (10:53.77). Among the other competitors was Sherman’s sister, 10th-grader Anna, who finished eighth in the group of 21.
“My game plan was for her and Anna to go out together,” Bill Sherman, the young runners’ dad and Mohonasen’s head coach, said. “I told them both, ‘If you feel good, you’ve got to go.’ On the second lap, she [Kate] made a move. It was so early in the race, I thought she might come back to the crowd.”
Kate Sherman paid a price for success.
“It hurt for a little bit, but you know it will go away,” the 13-year-old said. “I didn’t mind if it hurt because I was so excited with my time and second place.”
Kate Sherman ran an 11:15.70 in her first 3,000 this season on April 5 in a Suburban Council double-dual with Ballston Spa and Schenectady. She placed second to her older sister.
“I was shocked by it,” Bill Sherman said of his daughter’s time at the Bethlehem invy. “She’s just learning how to race.”
Kate Sherman is the youngest of three running sisters. The oldest of the bunch, Cara, is a sophomore at the University at Albany.
“Kate reminds me of Cara when Cara was younger,” Bill Sherman said. “I wasn’t sure when it would show itself.”
Kate placed 15th at the Section II Class B cross country championships last fall, and among her indoor highlights was a second in the 3,000 at the Section II Division 2 championship meet where Anna Sherman took the victory.
“She ran cross country and indoor,” Bill Sherman said of Kate. “During the cross country season something clicked where she thought she had something special.”
The coach believes special things are ahead for his two daughters and freshmen Emma Sinisgalli and Christina Esposito, whom he calls his ‘Core Four.’
“I expect they will break our distance medley relay, 4x1,500 and 4x800 school records this season,” he said. “Our distance team is the strength of our program, but it’s much more balanced than it’s been.”
Mohonasen edged Emma Willard by one point for the small-school team championship at Bethlehem, where sophomores Lena Calkins and Emily Racana placed first and third, respectively, in the pole vault, and Sinisgalli and freshman Christina Esposito placed first and fifth, respectively, in the 1,500. Freshman Christa Bailey was third in the 2,000 steeplechase, Sinisgalli was fifth in the 300 hurdles, sophomore Bailey DeCocco was seventh in the discus.
“The thing we’ve been focused on is the team aspect and everyone doing their job,” Bill Sherman said. “Do that job and we’ll get the team results and the individual results.”