Leading off today:
Some in the national media were quick to characterize it as an upset, but was Saratoga Springs' win in the girls team race at Nike Cross Nationals on Saturday really a shocker?
Sophomore Ella Kurto's 14th-place finish paced the Silver Streaks to their second national championship at the meet, easily outdistancing the field at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon. Saratoga placed its first four runners in the top 12 of the team scoring and finished with 78 points to beat runner-up Summit, Oregon (160).
The youthful Saratoga Springs team (two eighth-graders, two freshmen and three sophomores) had been a close runner-up to Fayetteville-Manlius in the NYSPHSAA Class A meet and the NXN regional qualifier in the previous three weeks but has been running as well as just about any other team nationally for much of the season.
"They've all been working, they just put it all together," coach Linda Kranick said. "When you have all seven doing the same thing, that is when you do amazing things and that is what they did today."
Katelyn Tuohy of North Rockland completed her cross country career with a third consecutive NXN title, crossing in 17:18.4 in cold and sloppy conditions to narrowly hold off Taylor Ewert (17:19.1) of Beavercreek, Ohio, and Sydney Thurvaldson (17:19.4) of Rawlins, Wyoming.
Claire Walters of Fayetteville-Manlius was fourth in 17:28.4, and Kurto was the first Saratoga Springs scorer at 14th overall in 17:58.3. When McKinley Wheeler (18:26.1), Mackenzie Hart (18:28.0) and Sheridan Wheeler (18:28.2) crossed almost in unison in the top 40, the team drama was all but over.
"McKenzie Hart had her best race of the season," Kranick said. "We've been out here 14 times, this is our second win. They certainly made a statement."
Eleven-time champion F-M finished seventh with 206 points for its worst finish in 14 trips to the national meet. The Hornets were fourth a year ago.
"It was not pretty, but we will move on," coach Bill Aris said. "It's easy to be all happy when you do well, but I told the girls that you find out a lot more about your character when results are disappointing."
Tuohy's performance capped her third consecutive undefeated season, but it proved to be her toughest race in that span. She never pulled away from Ewert, Thorvaldson and Walters, finding herself having to kick hard in the final stretch to win.
"Obviously, this wasn't my best race. I just had to mentally overcome the challenges," Tuohy said. "I feel terrible in the cold. I couldn't feel my legs or feet."
Multiple runners fell along the way, and Tuohy ran around several puddles rather than through them.
Said coach Brian Diglio: "The last three races her feet have been frozen. At 3,000 meters, she said she was ready to drop out. She felt that bad."