WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. — Mount Sinai’s Sarah Connelly knows that serious running leads to serious results. In only her sophomore season, Connelly has refused to let the magnitude of any race dwarf her. She deserves to be up with the best in the state. She knows that and, after a season where both her name and her team were put on the map, she was rewarded handsomely.
Connelly had the fastest Long Island time and finished seventh at the state Federation cross country championships, running the 5-kilometer Bowdoin Park course in 18 minutes, 56.1 seconds Saturday afternoon. North Rockland’s Katelyn Tuohy won in 16:52.4 and Saratoga Springs’ Kelsey Chmiel was second in 17:32.5. Sacred Heart’s Maggie Maier finished 10th in 19:02.5.
Shoreham-Wading River’s Katherine Lee, who won her third state public school class B Championship last weekend, sat out the Federation meet in favor of resting for next weekend’s Foot Locker Northeast Regional at Van Cortlandt Park, coach Paul Koretzki said.
Connelly finished 23 places higher than she did at the same meet last year, something she attributes to taking the race more seriously.
“Last year, I didn’t really care. I had made it this far and couldn’t believe it,” she said. “This year, I wanted to do better.”
The experience on the course clearly helped, with Connelly running with a purpose.
“I was a lot stronger this year,” Connelly said. “Last year, I was just running it for fun. This year, I worked a lot harder and finished stronger.”
To her surprise, Connelly said she ran best on the flat part of the course.
“The hills were good. I worked well on them,” she said. “I just worked well on the flat part.”
But, with almost the entire first half of the course designed to test hill technique, Connelly had to channel a regular season full of Sunken Meadow State Park starts to get through them. In many ways, that’s the advantage Suffolk County, and CHSAA, runners have during the post-season — no matter how daunting a hill may be, it is rarely as challenging as the big bumps they face all fall in Kings Park.
“I gotta say, they were tough,” Connelly said of the Bowdoin Park hills. “But, I handled it well.”
As for Maier, a sophomore who turned the CHSAA on it’s head this season, she said that the hills were made a lot easier by her Sunken Meadow experience.
“I mean, I’ve been running on Cardiac (Hill) all season,” Maier said of the famously difficult Sunken Meadow hill. “I think that really prepared me well for a course like this. I just don’t think anything is as hard as Cardiac, so that makes this easier.”
Maier entered the race with a top-25 finish on her mind, greatly exceeding even her own expectations.
“I went out really hard, but didn’t expect to be as far up as I was,” Maier said. “I think I had a good start. It gave me confidence for the rest of the race.”
With Tuohy and Chmiel, two of the best runners in the country setting the pace, Maier was careful not to get caught up in trying to chase them and ran her own race.
“I wasn’t trying to go up next to them, but I wanted to keep them in sight,” Maier said. “There were a couple of girls around me. I just tried to stick with them and pick off the people as we were were going up and down the hills.”
Saratoga Springs (99 points) won the team championship. Kellenberg, the highest Long Island finisher, was 17th with 375 points.