Thursday, November 4, 2010

One last hill to climb for Sousis: Section II XC meet preview

TROY — C.J. Sousis has one last run up Ferndale Hill this afternoon, but he’s hoping it’s not his final race in a Lansingburgh High School cross country uniform.

Sousis, a senior at Lansingburgh, will be one of just about 1,000 runners who will compete in the Section II cross country meet today at Saratoga Spa State Park. The winning team in each of the five classifications and the top five individuals not on the winning team all secure berths to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association meet on Nov. 13 at Lakeside Park in Pawling.

Having qualified for the state meet each of the past two seasons, Sousis, pictured above, knows what it takes to successfully navigate the course at Saratoga, especially the steep hill two miles into the 5k course.

“There is a hill at the two-mile mark, which everyone has trouble getting up. It’s called Ferndale Hill,” Sousis said. “Once you hit that, you have a long straightaway to the finish line. You go through woods and stuff and once you hit that long straight, you have the biggest inspiration to sprint as fast as you can just to finish the race and get through it.”

Lansingburgh's C.J. Sousis, who also excels on the indoor and outdoor track and field teams for the Knights, plops into the steeplechase pit at Colonie High School last spring. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

The Knights will face stiff competition in the Class B race this year from Broadalbin-Perth, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, Ichabod Crane and Glens Falls, all of which are ranked in the latest state poll.

“From the beginning of the season, everyone worked really hard to keep pushing and keep going and this is it,” said sophomore Tabia Gamble, at right, a member of Lansingburgh’s girls team. “This is the biggest race.
Everyone is just working hard for it. Coach B (Dale Broomhead) prepared us really well, so we’re ready.”

The Shaker High boys, ranked No. 1 in the state, are the favorites in the Class AA race, although they’ll be challenged by Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs runners.

Individually, for the girls, Columbia’s Anna Boughtwood, Kaylee Scott, and Cali Palumbo in Class AA and Hoosic Valley’s Maggie Sanderson in Class C, may be among the local standouts.

Berlin is in a unique position to potentially lay claim to both the boys and girls team titles in Class D.
Most of the competitors in today’s races know the Saratoga Spa course well. Many leagues held championship races on the circuit last week.

At this point in the season, runners are aware of their limits and generally know what to expect when they hit the course, but that doesn’t mean there will not be a surprise or two today.

“A few years ago, Dave Stevens, who’s now a coach at RIT (women’s cross country and track and field), went into sectionals and he was seeded ninth or tenth,” said Broomhead. “He ran the race of his life and made it on the bus. Everything clicked that day, so it can happen.”

The running is just part of the fun for the competitors. Team tents will line the chute on the lawn between the Hall of Springs and the Gideon Putnam Resort and runners from schools large and small, far and wide, will celebrate the festival-like atmosphere of Section II’s Super Bowl of cross country.

“You make a lot of friends from other schools, so for the seniors that I’ve met from other schools, it will be good to see them one last time,” said Lansingburgh junior Blair Meeson, pictured at left.

Section II cross country championships, Saratoga Spa State Park, schedule of events:
10 a.m., girls Class AA
10:30 a.m., girls Class A
11 a.m., girls Class B
11:30 a.m., girls Class C
Noon, girls Class D
12:30 p.m., boys Class AA
1 p.m., boys Class A
1:30 p.m., boys Class B
2 p.m., boys class C
2:30 p.m., boys Class D


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