As the sun set on the truncated CHSAA girls cross country season Saturday morning, two truths emerged. One, St. Anthony’s is back on top, and two, St. John the Baptist’s Sabrina Spezia remains there.
The Friars re-entered the fray as a force to be reckoned with on the team level, winning the Intersectional championship with 48 points at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It is their first team Intersectional title since 2013, said coach Oliver St. Aude.
Three St. Anthony’s runners finished in the top-10. Caelan Schretzmayer was sixth, running the 2.5-mile course in 16 minutes, 41.4 seconds. Kelly Parker was eighth in 16:47.7 and Kylie Maddalena was 10th in 16:48.7. For good measure, Kiera Udell was 11th in 16:52.0.
"We were pretty confident," Schretzmayer said. "We were the favorites to win for the first time in a really long time. We were really excited to get out there."
Once they got out there, they found a course that was a tad bit more treacherous than the one they spent most of this season running at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset. The back hills at Van Cortlandt Park are, without a doubt, the most difficult part of the run and Saturday was no different. Put that in contrast with the much flatter trails of Our Lady of Mercy and it made it all the more difficult.
"The hills were a little bit hard, because we haven’t done much training or anything," Schretzmayer said. "So, I’d say that was the hardest part, but the downhills really helped."
St. John the Baptist’s Spezia was once again the top Long Islander. Spezia, who won the CHSAA league championship two weeks ago, placed fourth in 16:13.3. Manhattan Notre Dame’s Brigid McCabe won in 15:44.8. Staten Island Notre Dame’s Lola Dinneen was second in 15:59.4 and Giavanna Comerford was third in 16:01.4.
"I ran well today because I stayed with the Notre Dame girls," Spezia said. "Those girls are amazing. I tried to stay with them as long as possible, and I stayed with them the whole time."
Since it had been about a year since Spezia ran the course, she was a bit ‘shocked’ when those tough hills came into view, but was able to adapt quickly.
"I think muscle memory kicked in and that did help," she said. "It was hard at first, but I just kind of got the hang of it. I took the downhills down and went from there."
St. John the Baptist finished second in the two-race varsity merge scoring with 83 points.
The morning marked the end of a CHSAA cross country season that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was only a little over a month long. While, in a normal season, Intersectionals would come after two and a half months of competition, only four varsity races preceded it this year.
"It was weird, but this year is a weird year," Spezia said. "I was just so happy to have this season and so happy to have this race. I’m happy to end on a high note."