It got to a point midway through Saturday’s Nassau Class I girls cross country championship where Alex Stasichin’s biggest battle was herself. The Massapequa senior had cleared the field by a dangerously comfortable margin when she started to have the kind of thoughts that runners have nightmares about.
‘You’re fine. You can slow down. Take a breather.’
But Stasichin would not be fooled. There’s no quit in the post-season and she was in no mood to give in.
"Every single time I thought ‘oh, I can slow down’ or ‘I don’t have to keep pushing myself,’ I just kept saying ‘No. You’ve been working for this. Your hard work has to pay off.’ That was my motivating drive," she said. "Every single time I was about to slow down, I just kept that thought with me … Honestly, it was a mental game out there."
Stasichin won the 5-kilometer championship in 18 minutes, 20.96 seconds at Eisenhower Park, taking home the Class I title. Hempstead’s Renee Newton was second in 19:08.64.
Syosset won the team title with 47 points. Emily Berg was Syosset's highest finisher, running fourth in 19:45.45.
On the boys side, East Meadow’s Zach Van Houten won the Class I championship in 15:19.23. Massapequa’s Vincent Simonetti was second in 15:28.46.
"The race went out really fast," Van Houten said. "I just knew not to get caught up in it and stay a little far behind. It slowed down a little after the mile (mark), so that’s when I really put myself in a good place. I decided to make my move (at the midway point) and then it was just about holding them off until the end."
Port Washington won the Class I team title with 40 points. Oliver Melara-Perez finished seventh in 16:10.34.
In Class II, Jericho runners won both races. Ana Markovina won the girls race in 17:58.76 – the fastest girls time of the meet across all three classes – and Alex Kasper won the boys race in 16:04.17.
"We went out at a pretty good pace," Kasper said. "I think our first mile was (about) 5:06. I was in the lead pack but I wasn’t really leading. When we hit a mile, I put a little surge in and took the lead."
Kasper said he took advantage of a slightly slower second mile to take control of the race.
"With 0.3 (of a mile) left, I really just went for it," he said.
Calhoun won the Class II boys team title with 34 points. Logan Schaeffler finished third in 16:32.55. South Side won the girls title with 34 points. Avery Brull was fourth in 19:39.12.
In Class III, Oyster Bay’s Nick Tardugno won in 16:03.50 and North Shore, led by a second-place finish by Carson Paradis in 16:06.86, won the team championship with 39 points. Wheatley’s Julia Schriefer won the girls race in 19:17.48 and North Shore, which took places 6, 11 and 13, won the team championship with 30 points. Kate Gilliam was tops for North Shore, finishing sixth in 21:00.58.