VERONA – Once again, the Chittenango girls cross country team found itself taking the short trip to Vernon-Verona-Sherrill for a big race – only now this was the biggest race of their careers as the Bears were vying for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B championship on Saturday afternoon.
At that same state meet, Cazenovia freshman Jake Woolbert was taking in his first state championship experience as part of a Section III All-Star side with Drew O’Reilly (Westhill), Noah Melita (Hannibal), Tyson Fuller (Oneida) and Joe McMahon (Christian Brothers Academy).
As it turned out, Woolbert would make an impressive showing with all of his sectional teammates, helping them to a third-place overall finish counting the all-star group and Mexico, who was fifth in the team event.
Woolbert covered the VVS course in 17 minutes, 42.3 seconds, not quite matching the 17:22.9 he put up at the sectional meet a week earlier, but still good for 40th place in a field of more than 130 runners.
And each of the sectional All-Stars were in that top 40 along with Mexico’s Ethan Becker, whose fourth-place finish in 16:39.5 topped all Section III runners.
O’Reilly was seventh in 16:41.1 and McMahon eighth in 16:41.9, with Melita taking 29th place in 17:24.3 and Fuller 38th in 17:37.6. Penn Yan’s James Tete won the individual state title in 16:13.5.
As for the Chittenango girls, they ran later in the day in the NYPHSAA Class B girls race and were ninth in a strong 10-team field led by Sayville, who with 41 points held off Cornwall (53) for the top spot.
Individually for the Bears, junior Mariah Stewart led the way, her time of 21:33.7 finishing 39th among team runners and 76th overall, while sophomore Natalie DiGennaro, in 22:00.1, edged senior Laura Powers (22:03.7) for 46th in the team standings.
Behind them, sophomore Ava McLean had a time of 22:35.8, with junior Ani McCarthy posting 22:39.3, junior Emily Judd getting 23:12.5 and senior Sophia DiGennaro finishing in 23:40.9.