The Sayville Golden Flashes girls cross country team that won...

The Sayville Golden Flashes girls cross country team that won the state Class B championship poses for a photo at the school on Nov. 28. From left, Carly Strining, Isabella Gerena, Mullane Baumiller, Marianna Duffy, Madeline McKillop, Aubrey Vitale and Megan Lankowicz. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

The Sayville girls cross country team did it again.

After winning the public school state Class B championship last year, the Golden Flashes returned four of their top five scorers and knew they had a chance to win another state title.

In November, Sayville repeated as state Class B team champions at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School in upstate Verona and became the first Suffolk girls team to win back-to-back state titles.

“We started training in the summer right after spring track and our goal the whole season was to try and repeat as state champs,” senior Mullane Baumiller said. “We couldn’t be happier that it happened.”

Isabella Gerena finished fifth overall and first for Sayville on the 5-kilometer course in 18 minutes, 57.9 seconds, Marianna Duffy crossed the line as Sayville’s second runner in 19:34.4 and Megan Lankowicz finished a spot behind her in 19:35.3.

Baumiller finished as Sayville’s fourth runner in 19:52.2 and Maddie McKillop back-ended the Golden Flashes’ scoring in 20:46. Carly Strining and Aubrey Vitale rounded out Sayville’s top seven. The back-to-back champions beat Cornwall, 41-53.

“It was really an amazing effort,” coach Tom Duffy said. “They ran their best race of the year on the biggest day, and they just went with it. They took off, and they never looked back.”

Before reaching the state championship, the Golden Flashes finished second at the Suffolk Division championships, then won the Suffolk Class B state qualifier to claim their fourth consecutive county title.

“I did everything I could to motivate myself and the rest of my teammates to make that our goal every day at practice,” McKillop said of defending the state title. “Running for each other always makes that goal so much easier.”

Once they earned a chance to defend their crown, they dealt with the pressure of being the team to beat.

Sayville beat Cornwall last year and knew they’d be tough to defeat again. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake also had a strong team, and finished third in Class B.

“We definitely had a lot of pressure on us,” Baumiller said. “But we were very excited, and nervous at the same time, to do it.”

When the scores were counted and the mud dried on their spikes, the Golden Flashes did what no other Suffolk girls cross country team had done.

Sayville seniors Gerena (Hofstra), Baumiller (Boston University) and McKillop (St. Bonaventure) have signed to run cross country and track in college next year.

They ended their high school cross country careers as state champions.

“I think that’s the biggest thing I’ll remember,” McKillop said. “All of the friendships and memories that I made throughout the season, working toward that one goal and finally being able to accomplish it.”

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