Calhoun's Grace Moore runs in the Nassau cross country state...

Calhoun's Grace Moore runs in the Nassau cross country state qualifier meet at Bethpage State Park on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

When Calhoun's Grace Moore stepped on the starting line Saturday morning at Bethpage State Park, she knew it would be a different kind of race. With the rain falling steadily, it wouldn't be a day for time. It would be a day for place. And for Moore, a junior who won the Class I title last week, place has never been a problem.

Saturday was no different. Moore pulled out in front quickly and never relented, winning the 5k Class A race at the Nassau state qualifier in 19 minutes, 25.61 seconds.

Moore's biggest competition came from the ground which, because of the pounding rain, was even muddier than usual.

"Keeping your footing was the hardest part," she said. "I just kept looking down at my feet."

Moore said that the mud was the thickest coming off the first hill, entering the woods. But despite the slippery conditions, she never lost her footing. Being steady on her feet helped Moore build a large, comfortable lead, one that allowed her to run alone. Solo navigation isn't something she relishes but, after dominating the class for the last two seasons, it's certainly something she's used to.

"I just motivate myself," Moore said. "That's the only way you can really do it when you're running by yourself so much."

Moore's victory qualified her for the state public school championships, scheduled for Saturday at SUNY-Canton. Syosset, who scored 35 points and won the Class A team title, will be representing the county's largest schools at the upstate meet. The Braves, running in a pack, took fifth through 10th place. Lauren Gruber led the way in 20:20.49.

Garden City's Steph Gerland made sure the muddy conditions didn't slow her during her 18:41.84 Class B victory. Gerland wrapped tape around her shoes to prevent slippage.

"I taped my shoes so I wouldn't feel like they were going to fall off," Gerland said.

When the weather is as messy as it was Saturday, proper running form becomes even more important, Gerland said.

"It was tough," she said. "When you go out, your arms are frozen. I just tried to keep the mentality that I'm out here to have fun and keep my form relaxed."

North Shore won the Class B team championship with 32 points. It is the school's eighth consecutive title, coach Neal Levy said. Stacie Nadel finished fourth in 19:18.52.

Oyster Bay (15 points) will be representing Class C at the state championships. Linda Cameron won the individual title in 21:55.51.

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