Mullane Baumiller of Sayville crosses the finish line in the...

Mullane Baumiller of Sayville crosses the finish line in the state Federation cross country championships held in Wappinger Falls, New York, Saturday, November 19, 2022. Credit: Louis Lanzano

WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. — The nerves went away as soon as Mullane Baumiller realized that she had been here before. No, not necessarily Bowdoin Park itself, but a course just as difficult. The Sayville junior had worried all week about the site of Saturday’s state Federation cross country championship, hearing stories about it’s supposed difficulty and whatnot.

But, it doesn’t get much more difficult than Sunken Meadow State Park, where Baumiller runs all her big Long Island races, and Bowdoin Park was certainly not that.

“On the (starting) line, I was so nervous,” Baumiller said. “But, the second the gun went off, all the nerves went away and my mind just focused on running. I don’t even think about how fast I’m going. I just want to finish my hardest.”

Baumiller finished 15th  in 19 minutes, 19.3 seconds on the 5-kilometer course, the highest placing Long Islander in an event that pits all the state’s schools against each other, regardless of size or classification. Baumiller was the only Long Islander to finish in the top 20 and only one of two to finish in the top 25. Northport eighth grader Finnley Wickard was 25th in 19:30.5.

The time marked a massive personal-best for Baumiller, who hadn’t clocked faster than 19:46.80 before Saturday, according to

“I think it was a little easier, honestly” said Baumiller, comparing the Bowdoin to Sunken Meadow. “The hill was a little better than (Sunken Meadow’s) Cardiac (Hill), which is what I’m used to. I think I overprepared. I thought it would be harder than it was.”

Cornwall’s Karrie Baloga won the race in 17:48.7. Saratoga Springs won the team championship with 20 points. Northport was the top Long Island team, finishing third with 179 points and Sayville was fourth with 198.

Perhaps the most important aspect of a runner’s Bowdoin attack plan is the start. A wide starting line feeds into a narrow path that’s easy to get stuck in. A bad approach to that bottleneck has ruined many races, and Baumiller didn’t want to be one of them.

“I tried to take off as fast as I could,” she said.

She said her October race at the Manhattan Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx — where there is a similar bottleneck — prepared her for Saturday. 

 “I took off how I did at Manhattan,” she said. “I slowed down a little once it got to the narrow portion, but then I stayed at a pretty quick pace for the rest of it.”

It’s been a banner November for Baumiller’s Sayville team. They won the state Class B public school team championship last weekend, only the fourth time a Suffolk team has won such a title, coach Tom Duffy said.

Baumiller and Sayville will continue their impressive Fall run at the Nike Cross Regionals, scheduled for Nov. 26 at Bowdoin Park.

“I’m just going to push myself harder next week,” Baumiller said.

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