Floyd’s Zariel Macchia crossing the finish line during the Girls...

Floyd’s Zariel Macchia crossing the finish line during the Girls Class A Race in Verona, New York. Nov 12, 2022. Credit: Mark McGauley

No matter how fast the rest of Zariel Macchia’s high school years end up being, the likelihood is that she’ll never forget Nov. 12, 2022. It was then that the Floyd sophomore standout captured her first public school state cross country title. She did it in, maybe, the most difficult race she’ll run at the state level all school year.

Class A in girls cross country is, historically, loaded with talent. And now it can be made official that Macchia is at the front of that class. She won in dominating fashion on the 5k course at Vernon-Verona Sherrill High School in upstate Verona, clocking an 18:02.6 to win by 15.8 seconds.

“I’m shocked by how good I feel,” Macchia said after the race. “I thought I was going to be dead at the end, but I felt really good.”

For the last three seasons, Macchia has been alone at the top of the Long Island cross country scene. Now, it seems, she’s alone at the top of the state’s toughest class. Only one runner in the state — Cornwall’s Karrie Baloga of Class B (17:49.0) — beat Macchia’s time that day.

There is no doubt that Macchia made a huge jump between her freshman and sophomore seasons. Not that there was that far to go. Last year, despite being a ‘states race’ novice, she placed ninth in 18:15.3 at Chenango Valley State Park in upstate Chenango Forks.

This year, Macchia said she further grasped what it meant to run in the public school state Class A championship race and, after a stellar freshman year on the track, had a better understanding of ultra-competitive race strategy.

“I think I came in very mentally prepared,” Macchia said. “I knew I wanted to win and I knew that, with  my training and what I had done this season, I was in a position where I had a shot to win.”

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