There’s something special going on at Sacred Heart Academy. Maggie Maier, a sophomore who has already made her name as the top Long Island cross country runner in the Catholic league, extended her domination to the entire state with a victory at the CHSAA Intersectional Championships Saturday afternoon at Van Cortlandt Park.
Maier, who placed fourth in the same event last year, won in rather comfortable fashion, running the 2 1/2 mile course in 15 minutes, 11.13 seconds. Sacred Heart took second in the team competition with 72 points. Staten Island Notre Dame won with 33 points and Kellenberg was third with 76 points.
“This was my goal for this season,” Maier said of the victory. “So, it feels good.”
Maier said she ran with Notre Dame’s Sierra Dinneen for most of the race, trading positions in the back hills. Dinneen finished second in 15:16.87.
“I started to push down the downhills towards the end of the back hills,” Maier, who estimated having a 20-yard lead over Dinneen on the home straightaway, said. “I got a little bit of a lead on her. But, I could definitely still hear her. I knew she was there and knew that I had to push to the end.”
Because of the accordion nature of the Van Cortlandt Park course, it’s important for runners to get a quick start to avoid being boxed in. Maier subscribed heavily to this theory when the starting gun cracked.
“I went out really hard,” she said. “I wanted to get the good spot because I know it narrows in really quick. There have been times when I’m stuck on the side of the path, where it’s hard to keep your footing.”
The day’s weather represented a major shift in conditions. Generally, Long Island runners spent the fall in warmer temperature, many times unseasonably so. But, with a major cold front blasting the area this weekend, the biggest race of the season thus far became a test of attrition, and glove acquisition.
“It was definitely a change,” Maier said. “I didn’t expect it to be this bad. I didn’t wear gloves or anything. It definitely made me tighter than I thought. I wasn’t used to it.”
Despite the chilly winds, Maier said the course was in good condition for a championship- caliber race.
“The ground was tight, so it wasn’t hard to go up the hills,” Maier said.
On the boys side, St. Anthony’s Mason Gatewood, who is among the best runners in the state regardless of league or classification, won with ease. His 12:40.81 bested the field by 9.8 seconds. Xavier’s Aidan Donahue was second in 12:50.61.
Xavier placed three of the top six and won the team championship with 35 points. St. Anthony’s was second with 65.
Gatewood, who helped engineer the Friars CHSAA League Championship on Nov. 1, entered the weekend ranked second in the state behind newly crowned Class B public school champion Nathan Lawler of Pittsford-Mendon, according to tullyrunners.com.
St. Anthony’s placed two other runners in the top 10. Matthew Payamps was seventh (13:12.77) and Brendan Dearie was 10th (13:22.34).