All Roshni Singh needed to do to finish in the top five in the ‘Varsity C' cross-country race at last weekend’s prestigious Manhattan Invitational was show up. That’s what she was told anyway. Singh, Bay Shore’s top girls cross country runner, wasn’t quite sure what to make of her season yet. Sure, she had run some fast times, but girls who she had beat last year were running faster ones.
“The times I was running were faster than those I was running last year, but some of the girls I beat last year were running faster than me,” the junior said. “So, I was kind of scared I guess because they were so far ahead of me”
Then Manhattan happened, and everything changed. Singh showed up and won the 4-kilometer race at Van Cortlandt Park in 14 minutes, 55.2 seconds — eight seconds in front of Nina Sgambelluri of upstate Greenwich.
“This was definitely the biggest race I’ve run this season,” Singh said. “I’ve had other pretty big meets, but I didn’t run any super fast times. I felt really good after running [Manhattan].”
The key to conquering Van Cortlandt is making sure you’re out in front early. The course rapidly narrows as the race progresses and can cause runners who are boxed in early to fall behind the pace. Singh knew this and planned accordingly.
“As soon as the gun went off, I went kind of fast and made sure I got to the front of the pack,” she said. “I got out really well and then moved up. In the beginning, it was me and another group of four girls. It was the five of us in the front and we just ran some of the course together.”
Midway through the race, Singh said she passed the pack on the hills and was able to hold her lead in the final mile.
“When I first got ahead of them, the gap was kind of big,” Singh said. “But then I heard them closing and I could feel them behind me. When we got out to where the crowd is, I just started kicking and then I couldn’t hear or feel them behind me.”
Increased hill work at Sunken Meadow State Park in the two weeks leading up to the Manhattan Invitational allowed Singh to feel more confident on the sport’s biggest obstacles. After all, practicing at Sunken Meadow — which features some of the more treacherous bumps in the state — will prepare a runner for anything.
“When I went to Manhattan, the hills didn’t hurt me as much and I felt a lot better,” Singh said. “I’m definitely more comfortable that I can run with those girls again.”
After a trip to the Brown Northeast Invitational this weekend in Rhode Island, Singh and her Bay Shore teammates will open the postseason at the Suffolk Division championships Oct. 23 at Sunken Meadow.
The race — although with lesser stakes than the following week’s Suffolk State Qualifier — gives Singh a chance to run against the top girls in the county, regardless of class. Entering the weekend, Mount Sinai’s Sarah Connelly was the top-ranked girl on Long Island, followed by Commack’s Fiona McLoughlin. Singh was ranked third in Suffolk and fourth on Long Island, according to speed ratings found on tullyrunners.com.
“I definitely like running with Sarah,” Singh said when specifically asked about Connelly. “Last year, our times were pretty close. She really pushes me. She’s been running really well, so I’m just going to try and stay close to her."