ONTARIO CENTER, N.Y. — Katherine Lee came down the stretch Saturday afternoon without a competitor near her. It was a fitting end to her final state tournament.
The Shoreham-Wading River senior won her second straight Class B public school girls cross country championship and third in four seasons with a time of 20:7.9 on the 5K course at Wayne Central School.
Mount Sinai teammates Noreen Guilfoyle (20:21.6) and Sarah Connelly (20:21.7) took second and third, respectively.
“I’m really glad that I could make my last state championship in cross country count,” said Lee, who will run for Georgetown next season. “That I ended on a high note is really important to me.”
Conditions were hardly ideal at the start of the competition, thanks to a combination of mud and ice, and the course was even more beat up by the time of the Class B race, the final run of the day.
“It was difficult, with the course being so ripped up, so I just wanted to finish and get that last title,” Lee said. “Most of the race was just my feet sinking into the ground with no traction, but at some points, the mud was hardened and you had to find your footing,” Lee said. “And then there were some parts were there was ice, so there was never really a good spot on the course.”
“The course had some sharp turns too, so the mud made those even tougher,” Guilfoyle said.
Given the challenges of the course, Lee said her main focus was just placing first, rather than getting a specific time. “I just wanted to finish, get that last title and get cleaned up,” she said. “It was a success and I’m really happy with my performance.”
A Long Island runner has won the last four Class B championships. Lee took first in 2014, North Shore’s Diana Vizza (who now runs at Dartmouth) won two years ago and Lee has won the last two titles.
Lee also said the Suffolk sweep of the top three spots in the race made the day extra special.
Said Lee: “It’s so exciting. Not only did I have some individual success, but as a section, we had a huge success.”
The significance of the finish was not lost on Guilfoyle or Connelly, either.
“It’s absolutely the most special thing that could happen,” said Guilfoyle, a senior who was also running in her final state meet.
“Noreen is a role model to me, so it was great to be with her in her last year,” said Connelly, a sophomore.
The pair helped Mount Sinai take third in the team competition, the top finish for a Long Island team on Saturday.
Guilfoyle, who finished seventh last season, also said such a strong individual finish is something she always wanted, but not something she always thought was possible. “It’s definitely something I didn’t think I could get four years ago, and I still can’t believe it,” she said.
“I wasn’t even looking to go this far, it just happened and it feels amazing,” said Connelly, who took 13th last season.
Carly Woelfel was Long Island’s other top-10 finisher, as the South Side sophomore took ninth in the Class B race with a 20:49.9. The island had three other competitors come in the top 20: Great Neck North’s Samantha Law was 12th in Class B (21:00.6), Shelter Island’s Lindsey Gallagher took 17th in Class D (21:13.4) and Syosset’s Reilly Siebert finished 18th in Class A (20:23.0).