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Syosset's Emily Berg has perfect timing in winning Class A state qualifier

Emily Berg of Syosset leads the pack out

Emily Berg of Syosset leads the pack out of the woods at the Nassau Class A girls cross country state qualifier at Bethpage State Park on Saturday, November 9, 2019. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

The pack was tentative, trying their hardest to not go too early or push too late and get left behind. With bids to states on the line, you’d expect nothing less. But, finally, Syosset’s Emily Berg took over.

The sophomore, who has established herself as a major force in Long Island girls cross country this season, won the 5-kilometer Class A race in 20 minutes, 10.94 seconds at the Nassau state qualifying meet at Bethpage State Park Saturday afternoon. The victory qualified her for the public school state championships, scheduled for Nov. 16 in Plattsburgh.

“I think it was stressful for a lot of the girls because no one was separating,” Berg said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen up until we got to the polo fields and things started to string out.”

Berg said she started to break away from the field at the two-mile marker.

“The pace we went out in was an under-control pace for me,” she said. “So I was able to go fast at the end . . . I felt good and thought I could keep that pace for the rest of the race.”

Berg led a Braves running unit that took the first four places and five out of the first nine. Eighth-grader Samantha Goldberg was second in 20:22.70, sophomore Nicole Conklin was third in 20:23.52 and junior Sumaira Mayan was fourth in 20:23.83. Syosset won the Class A team championship with a near-perfect 18 points and will be competing as a team in Plattsburgh.

South Side senior Carly Woelfel ran the fastest time of the day, winning the Class B race in 19:05.90. Woelfel used a big surge in the final 800 meters to carry her home. North Shore senior Nicole Schneider was second in 19:14.78. The two battled it out on the polo fields for Class B supremacy.

“[Last week] with a mile left, I was good to go. All I had to do was see the race through,” Woelfel said. “But this race, with less than 800 meters left, I had to decide if I was going to put myself through that extra pain to win. I think it put to me to the test. All season I’ve kind of caved under that test. But this time I pulled it through.”

North Shore won the team title with 31 points. In addition to Schneider’s runner-up finish, junior Sophie Rosencrans was sixth in 19:44.02.

Oyster Bay won Class C with 26 points. Junior Greta Flanagan won in 19:46.07.

Maier places third at CHSAAs: Elsewhere across the Long Island cross country scene on Saturday, Sacred Heart senior Maggie Maier placed third at the CHSAA intersectional championships, running the 4-kilometer course at Van Cordlandt Park in the Bronx in 15:30.3. Junior Brigid McCabe of Manhattan Notre Dame won in 15.17.9. Notre Dame won the team title with 46 points and Sacred Heart was second with 55.

On the boys side, St. John the Baptist senior John O’Connell was 10th in 13:21.9. Fordham Prep senior Niall Ryan won in 12:49.3. St. John the Baptist finished fifth with 140 points. Xavier won with 54.

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