Tiana Guevara leads Miller Place to overall cross country title

Tiana Guevara runs toward the finish line in Tiana Guevara runs toward the finish line in first place in the Suffolk girls 5K run cross country championships with a winning time of 19:23.35. (Oct. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Perhaps the only thing that rivals Tiana Guevara's talent is her integrity. It's no secret that the Miller Place senior is one of the most talented runners on Long Island -- her vast trophy case can speak to that. But in a high school running culture where sportsmanship is constantly on display, Guevara is a cut above.

There might not be a better example of Guevara's unblemished honesty then her conduct at last weekend's Brown Invitational. With 300 meters to go, Guevara noticed that Denise Branch of Cardozo was headed in the wrong direction. Instead of letting her competitor derail her chance to win, Guevara pointed her in the right direction. Branch went on to win the race, crossing the line one second before Guevara.

When coach Fran Sullivan asked Guevara about the incident, her reply was simple. She didn't want to win like that, Sullivan said.

It was a championship move from a runner who, in the short term, lost out on a championship. But only a few days later, Guevara got her championship -- the overall title at the Suffolk Division championships Tuesday at Sunken Meadow State Park.

Guevara finished the 5k in 19 minutes, 23.35 seconds.

"The picnic grounds was the best part of my race," Guevara said. "The hills were a little tougher today, but I knew that as long as I opened up my lead in the picnic grounds, I was going to be OK."

Like most who run the Sunken Meadow course, Guevara found Cardiac Hill to be the most challenging, but credited her training for getting her through it.

"It's Cardiac," Guevara said. "It's one of those things that never gets easier. The faster you go, the quicker it goes by. But it's still hard. My coach trains us to be hill climbers. We know if we push those hills hard, then, while it's still going to hurt, we'll get up it quicker and it won't last that long."

Miller Place took three of the first four places to win the overall title, topping Northport by seven points. It's the first time a small school has won the overall championship under the current format, which began in the late 1990s, Sullivan said.

"We wanted to show that, just because you're from a small school, it doesn't mean you can't bring the same talent to the course," said Talia Guevara, Tiana's twin sister who finished fourth in 20:11.02. "Even though we're small, we can push just as hard as larger schools."

Laura Nolan took second in 19:38.64.

"I look to follow Tiana in most races because she takes it out hard," Nolan said.

The sophomore used Tiana's quick start to spur her momentum and acted as a barrier between her teammate and the field for the rest of the race.

"I wanted to keep distance behind her and make sure no one got in front of me," Nolan said.

Northport won the Division I title. Brigid Brennan finished first among that group in 19:53.92. Bay Shore took Division II. Caelyn Reilly led her team, finishing in 21:22.50. Bayport-Blue Point won Division IV. Brianna Delzell led the pack in 20:27.05.

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