WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. — In girls cross country, perhaps the only thing faster than the runners themselves is the length of the postseason. Beginning in late October, barely a week goes by without an important race. The fields are big, the stakes are high, and rest is scarce.
“It’s definitely tough,” said Eastport-South Manor’s Taylor McClay, who will run at North Carolina State next year. “You have to make sure that you don’t go too hard during the week because, by now, all the work for the season is done. You just have to maintain.”
Short memories are a must and after Bay Shore’s Bridget Kanaley walked away from last weekend’s state public school state championships unhappy, she knew that there was little time to consider what might have been.
Kanaley quickly put the public state performance behind her and ran to a top-20 finish at the state Federation championship Saturday at Bowdoin Park. Kanaley finished 19th in 19 minutes, 24.2 seconds in the 5-kilometer race that pits the best runners in the state, regardless of classification or public/private status, against each other.
Saratoga Springs’ Kelsey Chmiel won the race in 18:10.2. Kanaley was the top Long Island finisher. McClay finished 22nd in 19:27.9 and Mount Sinai’s Noreen Guilfoyle was 23rd in 19:29.1. North Rockland won the team competition with 75 points. Bay Shore finished 12th, the best Long Island finish.
Shoreham-Wading River, which won the Class B championship at Pubic School states last weekend and is led by Katherine Lee, chose to skip the Federation meet in favor of resting for next weekend’s Nike Nationals New York Regional, coach Paul Koretzki said.
“I wasn’t strong enough mentally last week,” said Kanaley, who finished 28th in Class A at public school states. “I was kind of psyching myself out. Also, my finish wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be. A lot of girls outkicked me in the last 400 meters.”
This week, Kanaley said her nerves were not nearly as strong, her psyche calmed after running with such a strong field at public school states.
“I knew what to expect,” she said. “I was getting my feet wet [last week] and I was more confident today.”
Kanaley, who correctly assumed that the race would go out fast, remained patient, not wanting to expend too much energy too quickly.
“I just tried to stay relaxed, because I think that’s what I did wrong at states. I got too nervous,” Kanaley said. “I knew that the second half of the race was all downhill, so I was really trying to save up for that.”
On top of going out fast, the sheer amount of runners makes for very difficult stepping.
“We didn’t have a lot of room,” McClay said. “It was real ly boxed in back in the hills. The hardest part was to get out.”
McClay has had an impressive postseason. She won the Class A race at the Suffolk State Qualifier on Nov. 4 at Sunken Meadow State Park and finished 24th in the Class A race at the public school state championships last weekend.
“I’m generally happy with the way the end of the season has gone,” she said.