CHENANGO FORKS, N.Y. — Running or not, most people find 40 degree days with rain and mud to be less than ideal.
Not Waverly’s Collin Wright.
“I love these conditions,” said Wright. “I hope and pray for this kind of weather.”
He ran like it as he earned an individual qualifying spot for the New York State Cross-country Championships at the Section IV Championships Thursday, along with Lady Wolverines Sheridan Talada and Elizabeth Fritzen.
Wright (17:19) took third overall in the Class C race, easily inside the top five needed to qualify.
“I’m very happy about this,” Wright said. “I really just wanted to go out and run my best today.”
Last year he missed making states by one spot — though he did get to run as a runner ahead of him dropped out.
There was no waiting around for dropouts this time.
“I really wanted to redeem myself,” he explained. “I feel like I’m in a good spot right now.”
He ran with fellow IAC competitors Watkins Glens’ Gabe Planty (16:50.3) and Newark Valley’s Jonny Sherwood (16:59.8) for much of the race.
“I’ve been running with those two guys — obviously they’re both fantastic runners — all year,” said Wright. “I just wanted to be up near that front pack and advance and further my season.”
The Class B boys were the fourth race of the day, out of eight total, with the course more mud than grass. Runners had kicked mud up to their shoulders by the time they finished.
“I love mud and rain and snow and every kind of conditions that can make the race more exciting, and fun,” Wright said.
His teammate Nate Ackley (17:50.2) was ninth overall, missing the last qualifying spot by five seconds.
The Wolverines (89) took third as a team with Watkins Glen (69) edging Newark Valley (74) for first.
In the Class C girls’ race Talada improved on her finish from last year, going from seventh to third.
“I’m happy with it,” remarked Talada.
She ran 20:14.6 while Chenango Forks’ Pipher Reid (19:54.5) won the race.
Reid and second place finisher, Dryden’s Emily Miller (20:08.3), ran at the front with Talada just behind for much of the race.
“I tried to stick with them for as long as I could,” she said. “I wanted tot ry to out kick them at the end but it didn’t go that way.”
Talada had been trying to catch Miller all during the season, and had her in her sights at the finish but ran out of room.
Regardless, this was a good showing on a senior where she’s been consistently running well.
“I’m definitely happy with it,” she said. “My times are definitely down from last year so I’m happy with it.”
Going forward Talada wants to end her career with some hardware.
“I want to try to get top 20 because top 20 medal,” she remarked.
She will be having a teammate in her race with fellow senior Fritzen also earning a spot.
“It just feels amazing,” she exclaimed after the race. “It’s everything I’ve been working for for this season.”
Fritzen (20:46.3) was fifth overall and nabbed the fourth qualifying position.
“I knew that if I tried to stick to the lead group for the first mile and just bond right on that my time would pay off and I did that,” she explained. “I just kicked at the end and it all came together.”
Fritzen knew she was on the bubble coming in but put herself in position early to move on through.
“In the beginning my coach yelled to me that I was in sixth,” she said. “I knew that I had to pass that Lansing girl and stay ahead of her to get fifth.”
For the second half of the race she ran by herself with opponents close behind.
“It was definitely nerve racking,” explained Fritzen.
However, she had a furious kick to ward off any runners.
“I was just giving everything I had,” she said. “I was wheezing so hard so I knew I was giving it my all to the finish.”
The Lady Wolverines (88) were third as a team as Lansing (40) rolled to the title.
In Class D Notre Dame had a good day, sending six total runners between boys and girls to the state meet.
On the girls’ side senior Alyssa Walker (20:29.2) took second in her final career sectional race Thursday.
She ran with eventually winner Kelsey Young of Deposit-Hancock (20:17.4) most of the way and was hoping to come away with gold.
“It’s a little disappointing but I ran a really good race,” said Walker. “We were going fast and I fell a little down the hill at the end. She put a gap on me as I was collecting myself but it was a good race.”
Walker was at a height disadvantage as Young had a good eight inches on the Notre Dame runner.
“Her legs are longer than mine so when we were going down the hills I worked twice as hard to stay up with her,” explained Walker. “All throughout the race I was wavering back and forth; I was like should I try to put space between (us) or should I just try to stay with her and kick at the end. It was tactically not my best race but we were going fast.”
She has two teammates joining her with Riley Sohnlein (20:52.9) taking fifth overall, and the third qualifying spot, and Piper Young (21:01.8), coming in ninth and taking the final qualifying spot.
“That’s so awesome,” said Walker. “We were hoping to win as a team, we’re really disappointed that we didn’t but they’re all young girls — freshman and sophomores — so in a year they’re going to have a really strong team.”
Delhi (25) topped Notre Dame (38) for first.
In the boys’ race Steven Gough (17:16.5) also took second behind Delhi’s Jonathan Hadley (16:45.7).
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Gough. “One milesplit I was ranked seventh, I believe, so to beat all the older guys feels great.”
He was the only sophomore in the top six.
Gough shot out of the gate like rocket and led the first 400, which is all downhill.
“I always like starting off strong,” he explained. “I know these Delhi guys try to pass whoever (they can) in the second and third miles. I knew I had to get out and get a lead.”
He attached himself to Hadley and let the winner pull him through.
“I think that was the best option for me,” said Gough. “I know he’s a great runner. I figured I will stick with him as close as possible.”
He will be joined by senior Scott Herlan (18:25.3) and sophomore Derek Simpson (18:33.4). Herlan was sixth and took the third spot while Simpson was right behind in seventh and earned the fourth spot.
“Our coaches have done a great job,” said Gough. “Scott Herlan has been pushing me all season long. They’ve just done an all around great job.”
Gough will get another chance at Hadley next year as both return.
“Hopefully, it’s another great race,” he said.
Delhi (26) easily won the team title while Notre Dame (113) took third.
Tioga’s Thomas Hurd (19:00.4) took 12th and was the second highest freshman in the race.
The New York State Championships are a week from Saturday.