The Huntington girls’ cross country team saw its runners turn in several outstanding performances at the Section XI Divisional Championships at Sunken Meadow State Park this week.
Sophomore Valerie Rogel flew around the 3.1 mile course in 21:39.69, just one second off her all-time best. Rogel finished 52nd overall in a field of 588 runners.
Senior Hadley Clayton also enjoyed a great day, finishing 57th in 21:42.73. Sophomore Ella Siepel crossed the finish line in the top 100, tying for 97th in 22:43.94.
“Even though I personally didn’t run my best race during divisions, I’ve been having an amazing season this year and I’m incredibly happy that I’ve been able to improve so much from my times last year,” Siepel said. “It was exciting for me to get to see the other girls on the team run great races and get closer to their goal times. Though I’m disappointed with my performance in Tuesday’s race, I’ll try my hardest at the state qualifier meet next Friday to hopefully hit my goal 5K time.”
The Blue Devils’ top five runners have averaged below 23 minutes over a 5K distance this season. Huntington’s top seven runners (based on best times this fall) will now advance to the state qualifier race at Sunken Meadow.
Huntington head coach Beth Vogelsang was pleased with how her top three runners performed as well as how Keily Rivas (23:17.06), Kaylee Dammers (24:44.30), Colette Barron (25:36.91) and Erika Varady (25:39.70) ran.
The times posted by Clayton and Varady were season-bests for the two teenagers. Dammers dropped her personal best time by 23 seconds. Barron earned a spot on Huntington’s state qualifier team by lowering her fastest time ever over 5K from 26:23.75 to 25:36.91.
The Blue Devils also saw three of their runners excel in the junior varsity level race. Ashanna Archibald dropped her personal best from 28:02.44 to 27:38.34. Diya Rai Gersappe lowered her fastest time from 27:55.83 to 27:04.58. Taylor Case also saw a nice drop, going from a previous best of 29:02.02 to 28:40.60.
The state qualifier is set for November 2 at Sunken Meadow. The state intersectional championships are scheduled for November 10, also at Sunken Meadow.
“So far, I’ve felt that my season has been very rewarding as I’ve seen huge improvements in both my racing strategy and my speed,” Rogel said. “The divisional race allowed me to recognize the consistency in my times, but it’s been a little frustrating as I’ve run the same time in the past three races. While my times alone are solid, I hope to make small tweaks during the state qualifier race that will hopefully bring me below 21:30. I am looking forward to a positive end to my season and I am so grateful to my teammates for pushing me to do my best. I wish the best of luck to them during these final races.”