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OLMA's Charlotte Molloy, Tara Sweeney cross-country standouts

Charlotte Molloy of Our Lady of Mercy High

Charlotte Molloy of Our Lady of Mercy High School, right, celebrates with teammate and second place finisher Tara Sweeney at the CHSAA Cross Country Championships. (Nov. 9, 2013) Credit: Ray Stubblebine

Charlotte Molloy was furious. After crossing the finish line in fifth at the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA Championships on Oct. 27, all she could think about was what could have been. Molloy, a senior at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, was leading the race before being accidentally redirected by an official just before climbing Cardiac Hill at Sunken Meadow State Park.

The detour cost Molloy a league title.

"I was really angry about it because I knew where I was going," Molloy said. "I was going to turn, but the official stopped me and told me to go straight."

But, instead of wallowing in self-pity, Molloy trained for the next big race of the season, the CHSAA Intersectionals -- held last Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx -- with a focused energy that only the right mixture of anger and determination can produce.

And it paid off. Molloy won the 21/2-mile race, taking home the Intersectional Championship in 15 minutes, 28.74 seconds. Her teammate Tara Sweeney, who won the league championship two weeks earlier, finished second in 15:29.89. Both times were personal bests.

In just two weeks, the duo has thrown their school into the spotlight -- something that hasn't always been the case. It was the first time in school history that Mustang runners had taken the top two places at the Intersectional Championship, an athletic department news release said.

"I know it shocks everyone when Our Lady of Mercy is winning," Sweeney said with a laugh. "It's just weird, even to us. But it shows that you don't have to go to a big, athletic school. We put in the miles and have started to think about how we're going to race -- and it really shows."

Now it's time for a new challenge -- the two will compete at the New York State Federation Championship this Saturday in Wappingers Falls.

"We're hoping to finish in the top 30," Sweeney said. "We think it's a stretch, but we thought leagues and Intersectionals were a stretch and look what we did."

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