A rainy day at Sunken Meadow State Park ended in spectacular fashion for the Huntington girls’ cross country team. The Blue Devils earned a berth in the Section XI team state qualifying race on Friday.
Huntington needed to achieve a sub-23 minute time as a team to advance to the state qualifier and the Blue Devils did just that, clocking in at 22:50 in the 5K race that drew 192 entries.
Huntington head coach Beth Vogelsang
is flanked by some of the team's young stars.
Six of seven Huntington runners notched new personal best times in the race and the seventh came within 10 seconds a career record. The seven Blue Devil runners included a freshman, four juniors and a pair of seniors.
“The vibes and heart were there,” first year head coach Beth Vogelsang said. “I had them psych each other up beforehand by doing ‘secret psychs.’ Like a Secret Santa, I gave them the task of giving each person a motivational gift and it really worked. They were all in great spirits.”
The Blue Devil runners turned a blind eye to the less than optimal weather and turned in a sensational set of performances. Competing as a team, Huntington pulled together with impressive results.
“This past week I introduced ‘hold the rope’ mentality,” Vogelsang said. “I told them to think about the person on the other side of the rope if you were falling off a cliff. Would you trust every person on the team to be on the other end of the rope? Who would be there to hold you? And so I had the girls envision themselves as a team to just go that extra mile for your teammate. So I tied string to their uniforms to signify holding the rope and if they got tired, they were to look at the rope.” Whatever the coach said worked.
Junior Keily Rivas recorded a personal best time of 22:20.64. Junior Hadley Clayton also clocked a career best time of 22:23.22. Junior Sophie Dellecave wasn’t far behind with a PR of her own as she was timed at 22:42.28.
Alexandra McKenzie (22:59.99) came within 10 seconds of a personal best during another great effort. Senior Christina Nigro (23:40.36), freshman Ella Siepel (24:27.55) and junior Katie Burton (24:28.47) all notched personal best times.
“It was a really great race for the team,” Clayton said. “We had a lot of personal bests all around. I’m so happy with all that our team has accomplished this season and couldn’t be prouder of our progress.”
The Blue Devils have enjoyed a great year and earning a berth in the Section XI state qualifier has been the icing on the cake. “After weeks of hard training we all pulled through,” Nigro said. “Most of the team had personal records and we made the state qualifier by 10 seconds! I am excited to run in the state qualifier and especially that our season is not over.”
The team has been training hard this week, following its usual varied workout schedule. “I always incorporate at least one day of yoga, a day of high intensity interval training, a track workout and long runs,” Vogelsang said. “This week I will do the same.”
Everyone associated with the program is feeling good about what the team has achieved. “I’m so proud of all the girls’ hard work,” senior Nicole Arenth said. “It’s great knowing that all the dedication and time they have put in has given them this reward. Everyone should be proud of what they have accomplished this season. I’m glad that I was able to finish my season on such a high note.”
The Blue Devils weren’t at full strength, but they persevered. “We did all this without our No. 3 runner,” Vogelsang said. “The girls stepped up big time for her. This year the girls climbed the ladder every race. As a coach, I don’t expect my team to get personal records every single race, but somehow they beat the odds and climbed their way up as a team to earn a spot in the state qualifier.”