Bayport-Blue Point's Sophia McInnes wins the Class B race at...

Bayport-Blue Point's Sophia McInnes wins the Class B race at the cross country state championships on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. Credit: Bryan Bennett

VERONA — The girls Class B race at the public school cross country state championships on Saturday. belonged to Suffolk County. 

Bayport-Blue Point’s Sophia McInnes won the individual title in 18 minutes, 0.5 seconds on the 5-kilometer course at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School.  McInnes led from the start and beat the second-place finisher, Mount Sinai's Cali Gabrielson, by 42.5 seconds.

“I wanted to go out hard as soon as possible and keep control of the race,” McInnes said.

McInnes ran the course in September when she won the V-V-S Invitational in 18:17.7. She shaved 17 seconds off that time Saturday on a windy, 38-degree day. 

“Being able to run the course, practice and see what my time would be at the beginning of the season compared to now, it really helped,” McInnes said. “I’m really glad to see some improvement, even in this weather.”

McInnes, who missed the Suffolk State Qualifier and state championships last fall after collapsing at the Suffolk Division Championships, said the feeling of missing some of last year’s postseason helped fuel this year’s state championship run.

“It feels amazing,” McInnes said. “I’m so glad I was able to use that anger from not being able to finish my season last year and put that in this race and really push.”

Mount Sinai's Paige Sheiffele finished fourth in 18:54.3 and Sayville’s Isabella Gerena (18:57.9) placed fifth in Class B. Suffolk won the sectional championship with 138 points, the best score from any section in any race at the championships.

Sayville defended its Class B team title. It's the first time a Suffolk girls team has won back-to-back state championships.

“It’s honestly so unreal to be in this situation in the first place,” Gerena said. “Coming here and winning back-to-back state championships is absolutely unbelievable, and I’m so beyond proud of us that we accomplished this.”

Along with Gerena, Marianna Duffy, Megan Lankowicz, Mullane Baumiller, Madeline McKillop, Carly Strining and Aubrey Vitale raced for the Golden Flashes, which beat second-place finisher Cornwall 41-53.

“It’s not easy, especially the night before, nerves get to us,” Gerena said. “But we come together as a team, we talk it out, we run for each other and we just motivate ourselves so much to work harder. That ultimately gets us up and going to come out here and win.”

Defending state champion Zariel Macchia was second in the Class A race behind Saratoga Springs’ Emily Bush.

Macchia, a junior at Floyd, finished in 17:44.3, the second-fastest time in any girls race Saturday. Bush won in 17:34.3.

Bellport’s Ella Masem finished ninth in the Class A race in 18:55.8.

Northport placed second in the Class A race with 80 points, sandwiched between national powerhouses Saratoga Springs (24) and Fayetteville-Manlius (101).

Mia Wickard finished first for the Tigers and 11th overall in 19:00.3. Northport's second-place finish marks the first time a Long Island team has placed Top-2 in the Class A girls race since Bay Shore in 2004, said Northport coach Gregg Cantwell.

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