CHENANGO FORKS, N.Y. — A pair of second-place finishes at Saturday’s public school state cross country championships reinforced the notion that Long Island can no longer be dismissed in the fall sport that has historically been dominated by upstate competition.
Sachem North’s Christopher Tibbetts placed second in the boys Class A race, running the Chenango Valley State Park 5-kilometer course in 15 minutes, 30.5 seconds. Tibbetts moved up from fourth to second in the final 500 meters, but was unable to catch Liverpool’s Ty Brownlow, who won in 15:27.5.
Wheatley’s Brianna O’Brien, who dominated Nassau County competition this season, fell victim to a late charge by Livonia’s Hayleigh Palotti, who won the girls Class C championship in 18:29.4. O’Brien finished second in 18:47.7.
“There are two difficult inclines that are just at the point of the race where you’re really struggling,” O’Brien said of the course. “The competition was great . . . My tactic was to try and tire out the competition going up those hills. I knew (Palotti) had a good kick. I was trying to take that kick out of her, but she was phenomenal. She kept up the entire time and, in the last 400 meters, she had the kick that I couldn’t finish.”
Although he thought Brownlow was a little out of reach, Tibbetts said he knew he could catch the rest of the field when he hit the 400-meter mark.
“I started picking it up,” Tibbetts said. “I was already gassed because it was a little faster than I was used to. I started kicking my legs and going. I was just able to catch (Guilderland’s Noah Carey) for second. I barely got him at the end. It was a great race.”
The final few meters, with second place on the line, was nothing more than an exercise in grit.
“Your legs are dead. Your arms are dead. You’ve used everything,” Tibbetts said. “Whatever your body has left for energy, you just have to exert it and hope for the best.”
Shelter Island’s Kal Lewis finished fourth in the boys Class D championship in 16:21.8. Norwood-Norfolk’s Kyle Fulk won in 16:01.4.
“My thinking was that I was going to go out fast, so I could get to second place” Lewis said. “But, I slowed myself down in the beginning so I could have more energy to push it more and keep gaining position as high as I could.”