2002-11-02 / Sports

SFDS CYO Season Ends With Medals And Fun

SFDS CYO Season Ends With Medals And Fun

The CYO cross country season came to an end with the Diocesan Championship races on Sunday, October 27th, a crisp autumn day, perfect for running.

Before the race, the results of the Sectional Championships held on Sunday, October 20th, were announced. The Junior Girls (ages 11 and 12) and the Bantam Boys (ages 9 and 10) were first place gold medal winners. The Junior Boys and Novice Boys (ages 7 and 8) were second place silver medal winners. The Novice Girls were third place bronze medal winners.

This year, the scoring method changed to totaling the places of the team’s top three runners instead of five runners. This placed more emphasis on the team’s front-runners. This article highlights the performances of SFDS’s top runners in the Diocesan Championships.

With runners from Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Thomas More placing in seven out of the first eight places in the Senior Boys Sectional race, SFDS runners had their work cut out for them if they were going to challenge for the Diocesan Championship. Andy Cruz, SFDS’s lone senior in the previous two races, was joined by Danny Edwards, who ran the Developmental race in 6:45 for 3rd place, and Greg Pulkoski, a junior moving up to the longer, 1.1 mile senior race. Greg’s mission – stay ahead of Lourdes’ and St. Thomas More’s third runner.

It is thrilling to watch the drama unfold in these races. The runners line up across the width of a soccer field, five abreast for each parish. The gun sounds and the runners race across the field, disappearing from view as they funnel onto a six-foot wide path that leads to a series of challenging hills. Strategy and concentration is key. Start strong, don’t fall or get tripped, but, as Coach Edwards warns, don’t spend all your money on the hills. Save some money for the finish.

Coming out of the hills, the first runner appeared, a Lourdes runner with Danny right behind. Andy followed in a pack with St. Thomas’ first runner and Lourdes’ second runner. St. Thomas’ second runner passed, and then came Greg, doing his job. He was ahead of Lourdes’ and St. Thomas’ third runner. Watching the runners race the half-mile loop around the lower end of the park, the coaches did the math. If the places held, SFDS’s 2nd, 5th and 7th would beat Lourdes’ 1st, 4th and 10th for the gold.

Heading off of the path and onto the soccer field for the sprint to the finish line, with teammates and parents cheering, Danny challenged for first place but was edged out, coming in second in a personal best 6:24. Andy (6:45) took 20 seconds off last week’s time and placed fifth. Greg held onto seventh (6:54). But SFDS’s gold medal dream vanished as Lourdes’ third runner sprinted into 8th place.

In the Sectional Championships only 5 points separated SFDS’s gold medal winning Junior Girls from second place Our Lady of Lourdes. The Diocesan Championship was not guaranteed. Pre-race talk of trophies and championship jackets was met with cries of, "Don’t jinx it!" This group may look slow jogging around the Beach Channel track, but they raced with heart.

Shinanne Featherston was first out of the hills with a twenty-yard lead. She has led every one of her races this year from start to finish. Lourdes was second, followed by Tara Mullen looking like she had spent all of her money on the hills. First and third place gives you pretty good odds for winning gold but you still need that third runner. Three St. Margaret runners passed, then three more runners from different parishes passed before SFDS’s third runner, Alexi Girlando appeared.

At the finish, Shinanne maintained her commanding lead, capturing first in 5:26. Tara, who uses every ounce of her ability and digs deeper than anyone on the team, still had enough for a strong finish and kept third (5:45). But it was Alexi, whose smooth stride powered her into sixth place (5:55) that sealed the victory.

Steve Pulkoski is affectionately called ‘Wildman.’ Steve starts his races fast, then cranks it faster. As a Novice last year, Steve won each of his races, leading from start to finish. This year, moving up to the Bantams he placed 3rd in the first meet. He recaptured his form with first in the Half-Mile Championships (3:15) and first in the Sectionals (4:07). For the Diocesan Championships he once again led wire-to-wire, capturing first place in 4:03. Sean Towey (4th, 4:16) and Kilby Featherston (5th, 4:21) led the Bantam Boys to gold.

At the end of the day, St. Francis de Sales’ six teams won medals. Junior Girls and Bantam Boys – Diocesan Champs. Second place silver medals for Senior, Junior and Novice Boys. Third place bronze medals for Novice Girls. Congratulations to all the runners! It was a great season! Thanks to Coach John Edwards for running the whole show. Thanks to Jim Sluyk and Steve Gifford for coaching the Novice and Bantam teams. Thanks to Mary Beth Kearney for the race scoring. See you next season. Keep running!


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