WAPPINGERS FALLS — Three of Long Island’s top high school runners punched their tickets to a national stage on Saturday.
Bayport-Blue Point’s Sophia McInnes, Mount Sinai’s Cali Gabrielson and Bay Shore’s Jake Gogarty will continue their cross country seasons after turning in impressive performances in the New York race at Nike Cross Regionals at Bowdoin Park.
McInnes finished second in 18 minutes, 25 seconds and Gabrielson was seventh in 18:45.5 in the 5-kilometer girls race. Gogarty finished second in the 5k boys race in 16:20.2.
All three qualified for Nike Cross Nationals, scheduled for next Saturday at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon
“I felt really happy with this season. I felt like I’ve grown a lot, and I never thought I’d be here,” Gabrielson said. “I made it to states, thought hopefully I’d make that, but I never thought I’d be here.”
All three runners raced at the state Federation championship at Bowdoin Park last weekend. Gogarty, who finished fourth in that race, said running the course in advance helped for Nike Cross Regionals.
“I learned the course, and I basically ran the same race as last time,” he said. “It feels really good, and I worked hard for this.”
McInnes, who won the Class B public school state title earlier this month, also felt that running at the Federation meet was advantageous.
“It helped a lot because I knew that I was able to run this course,” McInnes said. “I knew exactly how it was going to feel and I did the same thing I did last week.”
McInnes finished second behind Saratoga Springs’ Emily Bush (18:09.5) and Gogarty finished second behind Fayettevile-Manlius’ Nolan McGinn (15:57.8), both of whom won Class A individual titles at the public school state championships.
McInnes, who finished third at the state Federation championship last week — and has excelled in big meets all year long — is looking forward to the challenge of racing in Oregon.
“This was definitely the goal — to get to [Nike Cross Nationals], to push myself throughout the season, and use everything that I can to just get as far as possible,” McInnes said.
Gogarty overcame what he said wasn’t his best race at the public school state championships to qualify for the Nike Cross National meet. After finishing 15th in Class A, the senior
stamped a comeback with a second-place finish on Saturday.
“That was a down point in my season, and just being able to build off that, forget about that and not let it get in my head,” Gogarty said. “I was always focused on this and knowing that this is the most important race of my season. This is where it really mattered.”
Macchia wins regional
Floyd’s Zariel Macchia won the Foot Locker Northeast Regional in 17:13 at Franklin Park in Boston Saturday. She’ll compete in the Foot Locker National Championships, scheduled for Dec. 9 at Balboa Park in San Diego. Macchia won the state Federation championship at Bowdoin Park last weekend.