SARATOGA SPRINGS — She tried to recruit a few friends to join her this season.
Tried hard, too.
But Madison Relyea, a freshman, couldn’t convince anyone to join her on the Mayfield girls’ cross country team this fall.
“You know, they’re either into soccer, volleyball or no sports at all,” Relyea said. “And, I’m like, ‘OK. It’s not everyone’s thing.’”
That left Relyea to compete as a one-person team throughout a fall season which is still ongoing for her. Relyea finished in second place last Friday in the Section II Class D championship race at Saratoga Spa State Park to clinch her spot at next Saturday’s state championships at Wayne Central School District.
So, she’ll head to the state championships in a familiar position: It’s her against everyone else.
“It’s kind of intimidating at first, but, you know, Mayfield’s a small school,” said Relyea, who made it to the state championships last year, too, back when she had several teammates who were all seniors. “There’s not a lot of people that want to run. Luckily, I am one that likes to run.”
Mayfield’s program does have several girls running at the modified level, but ran incomplete at the varsity level throughout the 2017 season. Mayfield head coach Rebecca Newkirk mostly had Relyea train with the school’s boys’ team this year.
“She runs with the boys because that’s the only people she has to run with, but she’s very self-motivated,” Newkirk said. “I can tell her to do a workout and she does it exactly — and then faster than I wanted her to. She’s extremely easy to coach.”
Newkirk said Relyea’s response to her coaching is always the same — a smile plus an “OK” — and the freshmen said she enjoyed training alongside the Mayfield boys’ team this season.
“That kind of pushes me a little bit harder,” Relyea said.
At the area championships, Relyea ran hard against a great pack from Greenwich, a program that has won the last two Class D state championships. Greenwich sophomore Brynne Wright won her third consecutive individual sectional crown to lead the Witches to team victory, while Relyea was the lone non-Greenwich runner to post a top-four finish in the race. Relyea finished in 18:30.99.
“We expected her to run her best,” Newkirk said. “She ran a phenomenal time.”
The expectation is to do the same this upcoming weekend. A year ago, Relyea finished in sixth place at the state championships as an eighth-grader. A second-place finish this past week, she said, sets her up well for her next race.
“I was really hoping to place where I did — and I did — and I’m really proud that I stayed right there and claimed my spot,” Relyea said. “So, now, on to states.”