Sarah Connelly said Tuesday’s rain made it ‘feel like cross country.’ For the 143 other girls who finished the 5-kilometer Suffolk Division Championship race at Sunken Meadow State Park, it felt like cross country for an entirely different reason.
That being, Connelly won.
The Mount Sinai senior proved once again that she is the top runner in Suffolk, winning with an 18 minute, 40.81 second time on a gloomy, soggy, and misty afternoon. Commack senior Fiona McLoughlin was second in 19:38.13 and Floyd seventh grader Zariel Macchia was third in 19:41.70.
Connelly’s race plan wasn’t all that intricate, and she executed it perfectly.
“Just to come in first,” she said. “I knew that Fiona [McLoughlin] of Commack and a lot of good girls [were in the race]. I was definitely nervous to go up against them. It was good to have the competition in the beginning and work my way farther up so that I had a good enough lead at the moat.”
Connelly said her footing on the course was not affected all that much by the rain, which fell steadily but was certainly manageable as the afternoon progressed.
“Some spots were slippery because of the puddles and stuff,” she said. “The hills felt a lot smoother because of the rain. It wasn’t easy, but it felt a lot smoother than usual.”
Connelly said she was able to use those hills to her advantage and slowly move away from the field. She began to drift away after Snake Hill, she said.
“In the beginning, I stuck with the pack, just to make sure that I didn’t get out too fast and have [McLoughlin] catch up to me,” Connelly said. “On the hills, I definitely worked harder on the up-hills and down-hills so I could have a big enough lead and didn’t have to worry about her stride pattern, because she has a longer stride than me.”
Connelly is gearing up for the final stage of her public school state title defense. She’ll run in the Class B race at the Suffolk State Qualifiers on Nov. 8 at Sunken Meadow and, assuming that race goes according to plan, will defend her state Class B public school championship on Nov. 16 in Plattsburgh.
While Connelly said that she’s constantly conscious of her defending champion status, she’s trying to stay humble.
“I proved myself with how I did last year and I feel like I’m a lot better than I have been,” Connelly said. “…You can’t think about it too much because you don’t want to be overconfident. That could also ruin me…I know that [last year’s runner-up] Olivia Morganti [of Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy] is going to come after me for revenge. I’m ready for it. I know that coach [Bill Dwyer] is preparing me for it and whatever happens, happens.”
Ward Melville won the overall team championship with 86 points. Victoria Laguerre was fourth in 19:51.33 and Briana Grant was 15th in 20:22.20.