Sachem North cross country is confident it can win Manhattan Invitational

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They ran in a pack, moving through the first 2 1/2 miles of the 5-kilometer course as a complete unit -- the definitive team strategy. And that strategy worked quite well for Sachem North, which won its third League II meet of the season Tuesday, defeating Middle Country, 15-50, at Sachem North High School.

The Flaming Arrows took the first seven places in the meet, led by Anthony Coccia, who was first in 17 minutes, 28 seconds.

"He led our pack," coach Bill Holl said. "We're trying to work on his kick for the later part of the season. Today was geared toward working on that skill. He was able to run pretty well during the last half mile."

Coccia was happy with the under-18 minute result.

"I think my kick went well," he said. "We went at a strong 5:40 pace. I was under 2:30 for the kick, which is pretty good."

On top of working on his kick, Coccia was focused on keeping his team connected at the top.

"I was trying to do my best of trying to keep my team all together," he said. "Our varsity knows what we're all good at, so we try to encourage each other."

Other top finishers within the pack were seniors Isaac Garcia-Cassani, who finished in 17:52 and Nick Castro, who clocked an 18:08.

"Our strength is our pack," Holl said. "We won the Suffolk Coaches Invitational last week because we had a 38-second spread from our first to our fifth guy. That shows depth. If you have all of your guys closer together, you can score fewer points and win."

That depth will be on full display Saturday when the Flaming Arrows take their pack to the Manhattan Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

"We want to win the varsity B race," Holl said. "We have two teams, Collegiate and Tappan Zee, that are ranked ahead of us, but we think we can win."

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