Runners during the Suffolk cross country state qualifiers on Friday,...

Runners during the Suffolk cross country state qualifiers on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, at Sunken Meadow Park. Credit: /Andrew Theodorakis

Zariel Macchia runs with a smile. Her enjoyment of the sometimes ruthless and punishing sport of cross country is obvious. There she was, at the beginning of Friday’s Suffolk State qualifier at Sunken Meadow State Park with an ear-to-ear grin as she led a field that she was destined to dominate.

And why wouldn’t the Floyd sophomore be smiling? Doing anything you’re excellent at is fun and, by any measure Macchia is excellent at distance running.

Exhibit A i was Macchia’s performance Friday, winning the Class A, 5-kilometer  race in 19 minutes, 14.27 seconds. The victory qualified her for the state cross country championship, scheduled for Nov. 12 at Vernon Verona Sherrill High School in upstate Verona.

“Yeah, I do like running a lot,” Macchia said in response to a question that is anything but obvious in this sport. “I think it’s a lot of fun. I like being out here for race day. It’s a fun atmosphere.”

Her leg work didn’t stop at the Class A race, either. Macchia was easily seen running up and down the finish line area for the rest of the afternoon to get a glimpse at the other races that followed hers.

“I think it’s a lot of fun to watch other people push themselves. I’m happy when other people do well,” she said. “My teammates ran really well today. I was almost more excited for them than I was for myself.”

Macchia entered Friday ranked seventh in the state, and tops on Long Island, according to speed ratings found on She was ranked fifth in Class A, where she’ll compete for her first state crown next weekend.

While Macchia indeed realizes how good she is, she’s also tremendously in tune with how good the top of Class A is – which made her hesitant to make a definitive place goal for next week.

“I’m going up there to see how high I can place,” she said.

Northport won the Class A title with 42 points. It will represent Suffolk in the Class A team competition.

Elsewhere, Sayville’s Mullane Baumiller won the Class B race in 19:50.17. Her team scored 35 points and will travel upstate as the Class B representative.

Babylon’s Kayla Hayes won the Class C/D race in 20:25.28. Hayes said she passed out at the end of last week’s Suffolk divisional championship – run on an incredibly humid afternoon. She said she changed her hydration routine this week and ran a much smoother race.

“I really tried to go in with confidence and try and put last week in the past,” Hayes said. “I started out strong and went into Snake [Hill] strong and tried to open up my stride using the downhills in the picnic area.”

Mattituck took the Class C race with 32 points. Pierson seventh-grader Josephine Mott was tops in Class D in 21:45.77. Her team won Class D with 26 points. 

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