Kellenberg's Deirdre Lewin had the winning equation Sunday: years of work, plus a fast start and a strong finish.
It all added up to an NSCHSAA cross-country title when Lewin won the 5-kilometer race in 20 minutes, 45.63 seconds at Sunken Meadow State Park. She also was the first of four top-10 finishers for Kellenberg, which won a second straight championship.
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"It feels awesome. I can't even describe how happy I am," Lewin said. "I wanted to go out and get a good time for myself, so I went out really fast."
Lewin said that Erin Endres of St. John the Baptist, who finished in second in 20:55.53, closed the gap in the middle of the race, the latest installment of a friendly rivalry.
"We've been competing against each other since we were freshmen, and we always have great battles," Lewin said. Coming down the final stretch, Lewin said, "I was close to her and I said 'I have to do this. It's my senior year and I'm going to regret everything if I don't put my all into it right now.' So I just gave it everything I had."
"I love running against Deirdre," Endres said. "I couldn't be happier for her. She's so much fun to run against."
"She has a tenacious drive and work ethic," Kellenberg coach Marty Brown said of Lewin.
"When I crossed the line, I thought all my training was worth it," Lewin said. "Since the summer, I would go on runs at night and get up early before work to go running, and all that has paid off so much."
Lewin was joined in the top 10 by teammates Julia Bryant (21:08.17), who finished fourth, seventh-place finisher Nora Bennett (21:36.64) and Brianna Lausev (21:53.72), who placed ninth.
"It's so exciting to win the team title again," Lewin said. "We won it last year, so we really wanted to defend it. And we couldn't do this without Mr. Brown. He never stops believing in us, so we really have him to thank for all this."
St. Anthony's teammates Zoe Colasaco (21:04.59), Jennifer Furman (21:16.04) and Nicole Pikulik (21:23.42) finished third, fifth and sixth, respectively. Hailey Marcello of St. John the Baptist took eighth (21:41.67) and Kelli Schmidt of Sacred Heart came in 10th (21:55.92).