WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. -- As much as runners can plan, plot, and strategize before a race, sometimes it's all a matter of guts . . . and Chaminade's Thomas Slattery has plenty of that. Slattery barely beat out Josh Dyrland of Irondequoit to take second place at the state Federation championship, held Saturday afternoon at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.
Slattery sneaked up on Dyrland in the final 200 meters, beating him by a nose at the finish line. As much as Slattery's 15 minute, 56.3 second finish on the 5k course was a product of his speed and endurance, it was his toughness that carried him to the line.
"I didn't think I could do it," Slattery said of passing Dyrland at the last moment. "I just saw an opportunity and took it. In a moment like that, you have to have faith in yourself. It's all about having courage out there."
Slattery's start allowed him the ability to make that final move at the line.
"You have to get out fast in a race like this," he said. "Once you're in that front pack, you can settle in. When you get past the uphill section of the course, you can float right into the downhill portion. At that point, you just race."
It's been an exciting month to be a Flyer. Chaminade was second in the team competition, scoring 160 points. The finish came one week after winning the CHSAA Intersectional title and three weeks after winning the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA league championship.
Slattery's teammate, Sean Kelly, finished sixth in 16:03.9.
"My race strategy was to stay close to Slatts (Slattery)," Kelly said. "I'm more of a kicker, so I knew that I didn't want to go out too fast and die out. I stayed in the middle of the pack the whole race and, as soon as the hill portion was over, I decided to pick it up a little bit."
Despite the many of hills throughout the course, it is a small one just before the final straightaway that Kelly said was the most challenging.
"People take it lightly, but I think that's one of the biggest points of impact during the race," Kelly said. "It's a lot harder than it looks. You have to make sure you have enough energy to get over that and then finish strong so that no one passes you."
St. Anthony's Patrick Tucker finished eighth in 16:07.7. The junior didn't mind the heavy amount of hill climbing throughout the course.
"I enjoy them," he said. "You work hard to climb them and get rewarded by going downhill."
St. Anthony's finished third in team scoring, amassing 166 points.
Shoreham-Wading River's Ryan Udvadia finished 10th in 16:11.2. Like Tucker, Udvadia wasn't bothered by the hills.
"I'm accustomed to hills because we run at Sunken Meadow," Udvadia said. "The hills weren't much of a challenge."
Udvadia said he began to pull away from the rest of his pack on the final hill, battling the fatigue of a long season as he got closer to the finish line. And, according to the senior, there's only one way to battle the grind of the championship season.
"You just got to have guts," he said.