Aidan Brancaccio of St. Anthony's crosses the finish line in...

Aidan Brancaccio of St. Anthony's crosses the finish line in first place during the NSCHSAA cross country championships on Sunday at Sunken Meadow State Park. Credit: Dawn McCormick

To be clear, there is no seeding in the cross country postseason. It is very much equal footing. Teams run for the entirety of September – and most of October – for the opportunity to be in a physical position to run fast times in late October and November. 

But, if there was a number one seed anywhere on Long Island, it would be the St. Anthony’s boys team. The Friars have worked themselves into the conversation for best team in the state, and with November only hours away, it’s time to shine. 

Consider step one passed.

Behind three of the top four finishers, the Friars dominated the Nassau–Suffolk CHSAA league championships at Sunken Meadow State Park Sunday, winning with 20 points – five short of a ‘perfect score’. St. Anthony’s Aidan Brancaccio won the individual title, running the 2.5-mile course in 12 minutes, 46.79 seconds. Teammate Jack Morelli was second (12:57.27), Chaminade’s Jack Higgins was third (13:07.66) and St. Anthony’s Hunter Wilson was fourth (13:10.38).  

“What we were looking for today was a good start to championships,” Brancaccio said. “We have a pretty long championship season, hopefully...[Today] is like the first of many. We just wanted to get that out there and get a good one…[We] wanted to get a feel on how to race championships because the difference between championships and the regular season is really big.”   

While calling a league championship a ‘tuneup’ might be a little strong, St. Anthony’s does have much bigger hills to climb as the calendar turns (at least metaphorically).

The CHSAA Intersectional championships are slated for Nov. 12 at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and the Federation championships are scheduled for Nov. 19 in Wappingers Falls. Both of those events have been circled on the Friars’ calendars for months as target dates for potential big victories. 

“Our goals have been the same as they were at the beginning of the season, win Intersectionals and win Federations,” Brancaccio said. 

Said Morelli: “We’re getting in that championship mindset where everything is focused toward Feds. I think we had a great day today…This is a really big month.”

Going victorious for Sacred Heart

On the girls side, Sacred Heart freshman Maeve Going won in 15:55.96. The day marked one of Going’s first meets at Sunken Meadow and, with it, one of her first in-race looks at the famously difficult Cardiac Hill. 

“It was horrible,” Going said of Cardiac. “It just keeps going. Every time you think it’s going to end, it doesn’t.”

A key to conquering Cardiac – especially if a runner hasn’t fought it much – is being far in front when it arrives. Going, who won by over 15 seconds, said she had lost most of the field by the time she got to the moat. For the remainder of it, she could hear only stray footsteps. 

“I could kind of hear [the field] for parts of the race,” said Going, who is the younger sister of former Chaminade standout Liam Going. “It would come in and out.” 

St. Anthony’s won the girls team championship with 33 points. Their highest finisher, Olivia Czoch, was second in 16:11.22.

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