Once again, Class B was the place to be for Long Island girls at the public school cross country state championships. The states second largest class, which has produced multiple champions from Long Island in the last decade, was the most successful race for Nassau and Suffolk at this year’s meet, held Saturday morning at Chenango Valley State Park in upstate Chenango Forks.
Five Long Islanders placed in the top 11 in Class B, led by Miller Place’s Sierra Gray, who was second in 18 minutes, 46 seconds on the 5-kilometer course.
Gray had expected the race to go out fast — but maybe not as fast as it did. She said the first mile went out in 5:32, nearly 20 seconds faster than her usual pace.
"I was fourth most of the race, and then at the end, I sprinted up the hill and sprinted past the second place girl [at the time]," Gray said. "I knew I was strongest on the hills. That’s usually where I can pass people because I’m better at going uphill than downhill. So, I just used all my speed uphill."
Gray said that spending the fall running at Sunken Meadow State Park — one of the hardest courses in the state — gave her an advantage over runners from other parts of the state, especially when it came to hill running.
When you spend September and October running Sunken Meadow’s Cardiac Hill, others just don’t seem that bad.
"Cardiac’s way worse," Gray said. "There’s a bunch of little hills and inclines most of the race [at Chenango Valley], so I had an advantage."
East Aurora’s Emila O’Leary won the Class B championship in 18:33.9.
Gray’s teammate, Danielle Cirrito, was fifth in 18:59.6. The two were the only Long Island runners to place in the top 5 in any of the four girls races Saturday.
Cirrito, who was competing in her first state championships, had never broken 19 minutes before Saturday.
"Breaking 19 was my goal," she said. "When I saw the numbers going up and I saw [the clock] nearing 19, I just wanted to break it so badly."
Mount Sinai’s Paige Sheiffele was seventh in Class B in 19:08.2. Friends Academy’s Aislinn Frazer was ninth in 19:20.4 and Glenn’s Sofia Condron was 11th in 19:24.0.
Wheatley’s Julia Schriefer was sixth in Class C in 19:23.8. Allegany-Limestone’s Angelina Napoleon won Class C in 18:37.7. Floyd’s Zariel Macchia was ninth in Class A in 18:15.3. Her time was the ninth-fastest overall. Fayetteville – Manlius’ Izzie Sullivan won Class A in 17:40.8.