Ana Markovina from Jericho wins at the Nassau cross country...

Ana Markovina from Jericho wins at the Nassau cross country championships at Bethpage State Park on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.  Credit: Pablo Garcia Corradi

Ana Markovina doesn’t need a watch – she can feel her own speed. And, in the case of the Jericho senior who won Newsday’s Cross Country Runner of the Year award last spring, her own speed is usually more than good enough.

That was certainly the case on Saturday, when Markovina won the Nassau Class II championship in 19 minutes, 11.77 seconds on the 5-kilometer course at Bethpage State Park.

"I know what pace I’m going because I’ve been running for such a long time," Markovina said. "[Today], I didn’t even know what time I was going to hit. I just took the lead and was going for the win."

Markovina used to wear a watch, but has since ditched the device for a few reasons. For starters, the GPS feature that is common on the more popular models doesn’t work all that well in the woods.

"At one point, it would say [I was running] 10 minutes per mile, even though I’m going six minutes [per mile]," she said. "I would fluctuate my pace and I didn’t like that. So, I said I was going to go completely off my feel and just run my race."

Secondly, she said she found herself looking at it too much. It’s much better for her to act as her own watch.

Markovina said she ran her best time at Bethpage this season Saturday, despite some pretty sloppy conditions. Rain pounded the course for hours and hundreds of runners slammed their muddy shoes into the ground in earlier races, making the morning run less than ideal.

"Today was all muddy, holes [on the course]," she said. "I even knocked into a tree at one point, but I kept on going."

Markovina estimated that she lost 20-25 seconds based on the conditions.

South Side won the Class II team championship. Cameron Coletti finished second in 19:59.64.

East Meadow’s Leslie Villafuerte Castro won the Class I championship in 19:34.07.

"It was very muddy," Villafuerte Castro said. "Since there was a race before us, I knew I had to stick to the edges because it was firmer."

Villafuerte Castro led the whole race, starting to move further away from the field when the course heads uphill at the mile-and-a-half mark.

"I knew that uphill was going to hurt everyone," she said. "So, I had to push that uphill."

Syosset won their 10th straight Class I title. Samantha Mayer was second in 19:48.20.

Wheatley’s Julia Schriefer won Class III in 19:13.15. Wheatley also won the team title.

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