CHENANGO FORKS, N.Y. — Perhaps they should rename it Class Lee. For the second time in three years, Shoreham-Wading River’s Katherine Lee won the public school Class B girls cross country state championship. Lee dominated the Chenango Valley State Park 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 53.7 seconds Saturday morning. Goshen’s Olivia Elston was second in 18:23.6.
Mount Sinai’s Noreen Guilfoyle finished seventh in 18:46.9.
Shoreham-Wading River also won the Class B team championship, scoring 51 points and making the sunny, but cold morning extra special for Lee and her teammates. Alexandra Hays finished 11th in 19:01.0 and Maria Smith was 12th in 19:04.3.
“It’s such a great relief,” Hays said. “We all crossed the line and were pretty nervous because we heard them announcing East Aurora and we heard a lot of people saying they weren’t sure if we had done it . . . We’ve wanted this for so long and it would have been heartbreaking to lose.”
Lee’s individual title marked the third consecutive year that a Long Island runner has won the Class B public school title. North Shore’s Diana Vizza, who now runs at Dartmouth, won last season.
“Two years ago came as a surprise,” Lee, who has not lost a race this season, said. “It was my freshman year and was before I knew a lot about running. I would just show up to races and see what I could do. I would have no idea that I was in a position to come close to winning.
“This year, I was more focused and I knew what I wanted out of this season. I felt a lot of pressure. I almost couldn’t sleep last night. I was so nervous. If you want something long enough, you don’t want to let it slip. It’s kind of scary to think ‘Maybe I won’t be able to achieve it.’ But, during the race, I realized that I not only wanted it, but I worked towards it and I had it.”
And for the majority of the race, Lee had it firmly. Elston was able to do something that few Long Island runners did this season — stay with Lee, at least for a bit. Running together in the first half-mile, Lee said she was able to use her upstate competitor to set a constant pace. But, after the opening mile, Lee said she had gained the permanent advantage.
“I felt really comfortable and really alone,” she said. “It was nice to be able to push the first mile and then focus on myself, instead of somebody else.”
Lee’s time was the fifth-fastest across all four classes.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Long Island’s state cross country champions:
2016 Katherine Lee, Shoeham-Wading River (time)
2015 Diane Vizza, North Shore (time)