Zariel Macchia has arrived. The Floyd eighth-grader, who turned heads with some high finishes and fast times as a seventh-grader, moved closer to supplanting her status as Suffolk’s next top runner Wednesday afternoon.
Macchia won the Suffolk Division I girls cross country championship in 15 minutes, 0.52 seconds on the 2.5-mile course at Sunken Meadow State Park – her first postseason victory after an impressive third place finish at last season’s Division championships.
Those Division championships featured all the best runners in Suffolk competing in one 5-kilometer race. This year, the races are a little shorter due to COVID restrictions and are split up into five individual Division races, but the feat is no less impressive.
"It’s exciting," Macchia said. "It’s cool that I was able to win this year … My goal is just to run as best as I can. If I have a chance to win a race, I’ll take it, but I’m not too concerned with how many races I win."
With times like hers, she doesn’t have to be. Macchia won her race by 49.87 seconds
Not only did Macchia beat the field, she was also able to beat bodily discomfort as well, which can sometimes be the hardest battle. Late in the race, Macchia said she felt a minor cramp coming on, but was able to adjust her breathing enough to stop it in its tracks.
"I was just focused on my breathing and making sure that I wasn’t hyperventilating," she said. "I think I did a pretty good job with breathing the whole race, so that’s why it didn’t get too bad."
Julia Bell finished second in 15:50.39. Ward Melville won the Division I team championship with 23 points.
Northport’s Allison Reid won the Division II championship in 15:05.52. Whitman’s Grace Weigele was second in 15:25.23.
Reid said she began to build her lead at the top of Cardiac Hill.
"That was our plan throughout this race," Reid said. "… I felt like I just had a lot more (energy). I was going to use the downhills. There was only about a mile left to go."
Reid said that she spent her pre-race preparation focusing on running a strong final mile.
"I just wanted to have a really hard and fast last mile, which is pretty much the top of Cardiac to the (finish line)," Reid said. "I came into the race knowing that once I got to (Cardiac) that I was going to give it all I had for that last mile and just finish strong."
Northport won the Division II team title with 40 points. Bay Shore was second with 44.