Isabella Spagnoli of Great Neck South wins the girls Class...

Isabella Spagnoli of Great Neck South wins the girls Class A race at Bethpage State Park on Saturday, November 5, 2022. Credit: /David L. Pokress

A year ago, Isabella Spagnoli was in a walking boot, wondering what it all meant. The sophomore from Great Neck South had broken her toe in the first cross country meet of the season and, as she watched her fellow Nassau distance running devotees punch their ticket to the state championships, she couldn’t help but feel glum.

“I was so crushed,” Spagnoli said. “I felt like I was useless and I was never going to get back to the top again.”

A year later, Spagnoli is at that top — leading the pack in the Nassau distance scene and planning her own trip to states. She qualified for the state public school championships, scheduled for Saturday at Vernon Verona Sherrill High School, by virtue of a 19 minute, 8.24 second victory at the Nassau state qualifier, held Saturday on the 5-kilometer course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale.

“I’ve been so nervous over these meets,” she said. “I knew I had to do well, so I could (get) my title.”

Entering Saturday, Spagnoli was the top-ranked runner in Nassau, according to speed ratings found on She was the fastest runner in the county by more than 30 seconds at last weekend’s Class County championships.

Saturday’s qualifier was more of the same, with Spagnoli losing the Class B field at the halfway mark and coming home all alone. Baring an extremely unforeseen situation, Spagnoli knew she was going to qualify for the state championships — with the first five individuals not on the winning team punching tickets.

Translation: she didn’t need to win, but it’s always nicer to do so.

“I still wanted to get first,” Spagnoli said. “Even though you know you’re going, you still have to push yourself, fight, and earn that title.”

East Meadow won the Class A team title with 47 points and will represent Nassau in the Class A team competition.

Elsewhere, Friends Academy’s Aislinn Frazer won Class B in 19:09.09. South Side won Class B with 46 points.

Cold Spring Harbor’s Sofia Mulada, who was locked in a tight race with Frazer last weekend at the class county championships, won Class C in 19:55.91. The finish helped Cold Spring Harbor to the Class C team championship with 42 points.

Mulada and other racers who went off early in the meet had to deal with temperatures that climbed above 70 degrees, abnormal for the first weekend of November, when the state qualifier is traditionally held .

“It was very hot, so I tried to push it in the beginning and slow down a little bit, because I knew the heat was going to get me,” she said.

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