It’s unclear whether the smile has faded from Zariel Macchia’s face yet, but no one would blame her if it hasn’t. Macchia, a Floyd eighth grader, ended her second high school girls cross country season with a massive exclamation point, winning the Suffolk Class A championship Thursday afternoon in a blistering 14 minutes, 49.90 seconds on the 2.5-mile course at Sunken Meadow State Park.
The time blew away an impressive field and topped Macchia’s mark from the Division I championships last week by 10.62 seconds.
"I wasn’t sure if I was going to run faster than I did last time," said Macchia, who ran 15:00.52 en route to a Division I championship last Wednesday. "I was kind of surprised I was able to run this fast. So that was very exciting."
Macchia was given an assist by Mother Nature, who appeared to calm the howling winds that had blown through the course all afternoon just in time for the Class A race. It was either that, or Macchia ran too fast for the wind to matter.
"Actually, at the start, there wasn’t really any wind," Macchia said. "I started quick. I picked a few points in the race where I wanted to push it a little bit. I wanted to push the start hard. So, wind or not, I had a good start. At the finish it really wasn’t windy either, so it didn’t affect my finishing kick."
The race featured one of the top fields a Suffolk girls race has seen this year, making Macchia’s time even more impressive. Whitman’s Grace Weigele was second in 15:12.05 and Ward Melville’s Julia Bell was third in 15:33.28. Eastport–South Manor won the Class A team championship with 52 points. Their highest finisher was Anna Gansrow, who was fourth in 15:43.26.
Macchia wasn’t the only Suffolk runner to experience a gigantic jump from last week’s smaller postseason races to Thursday’s larger one. Westhampton’s Jackie Amato won the Class B championship in 15:20.97, 17.71 seconds faster than she ran last week.
But, there’s a very simple explanation for Amato’s improvement, at least in part — she wasn’t running in a torrential down pour, something she had to push through last Thursday.
"It was definitely harder to push the downhills, especially in the moat last week," Amato said. "We were basically running in a river. I think this week I really picked it up on the moat more that I did last week. I think that’s what made the almost-20 second difference in my time."
Sayville won the Class B team title with 46 points. Mullane Baumiller, who finished sixth in 16:17.15, was the highest finisher.
Pierson’s Penelope Greene won the Class C/D race in 15:36.92 and Pierson won the Class D team title with 19 points. Babylon’s Kayla Hayes was second overall in the race and tops in Class C in 16:33.24. Mattituck won the Class C title with 23 points. Ava Vaccarella, who finished third in the race in 16:39.38, was highest finisher.