SFDS Cross-Country Teams Diocesan Champions
On an unseasonably warm autumn day, St. Francis de Sales closed out the cross-country season on Sunday, November 2nd, with a fabulous showing at the Diocesan Championships. Out of eight age and gender divisions, SFDS won three championships (Senior Girls, Bantam Boys and Novice Boys), two second places (Junior Girls and Novice Girls) and one third place (Senior Boys).
Before the race, the results of the Sectional Championships held on Sunday, October 26th, were announced. Competing in the Yellow Section, SFDS’s Senior Girls (ages 13 and 14), Junior Girls (ages 11 and 12), Novice Girls (ages 7 and 8), Bantam Boys (ages 9 and 10) and Novice Boys were first place gold medal winners. The Bantam Girls were second place silver medal winners. The Senior Boys were third place bronze medal winners.
Scoring for the championship meet was as follows: the places of the top three finishers from each team in a race are added. The team with the lowest total is champion; the next lowest score is second, etc. Also, individual medals were awarded to the top 15 runners in each race.
Cross-country is a challenging sport. It is four to seven minutes of concentrated physical and mental effort with no time outs, no do-overs, and no substitutions. During the past six weeks, the SFDS runners have been training and racing, learning how to pace themselves, learning how to balance patience with aggressive running. ‘Pace yourself and push yourself’ is their mantra. The SFDS runners focused on running strong and passing as many competitors as they could on the way to the finish line. 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 winds its way through the park to the finish. Strategy and concentration are key. Start strong, don’t fall or get tripped, but save some speed for the finish.
The Senior girls, led by Shinann Featherston (2nd), Casey McCormack (4th) and Tara Mullen (5th) captured the championship over Our Lady of Lourdes. Lauren Spadaro (7th) and Krista Memi (14th) won medals with Michelle Kenel running strong.
The Senior Boys placed third behind OL Lourdes and OL Snows, with Greg Pulkoski (5th) and Chris Forman (12th) winning individual medals. Sean Kearney, Ryan Hurley, Matt Cusmiani, and James O’Connor rounded out the team.
Newcomers Tara Klein (5th), Alyssa Santiago (7th) and Nicole Casey (8th) led the Junior Girls to a second place finish behind Our Lady of Mercy. Sarah Donahue, Susan Richter, Danielle Ford, Anne McCaffrey and Kelly Shannon all ran well.
The Junior Boys did not have enough eligible runners to score as a team. Eric Thurgood ran a good race as SFDS’s only eligible runner (runners must compete in two meets).
The Bantam Girls, a spirited group of newcomers led by Elizabeth
Cholakis (10th), placed fourth in a very competitive division. Patti O’Rourke, Kathleen Woods, Kattie Windels, Lauren Houck, Amanda Ebert, Fallon Mullen, Mary Ameruso and Christina Rocks all ran great.
The closet competition of the day pitted the Black Sectional Champion St. Thomas More versus the Yellow Sectional Champ SFDS. Steve Pulkoski, who has won each of his races this season, placed first and Kilby Featherston was fourth. But with STM’s runners finishing second and third, coaches doing the math waited anxiously for their team’s third runner. SFDS didn’t have to wait long as James Goldberg placed sixth, two places ahead of STM, to win the championship. John McCormack (8th), Danny Donahue (11th), Patrick Kilgallen (14th) and Brian Woods (15th) won medals with James Mercer, Connor Davan and Robert Cole running their best.
The Novice Girls race was also very competitive, with Sectional champ SFDS facing Sectional champ Our Lady of Mercy. Lisa Pulkoski, running her usual strong, well-paced race placed first. But OL Mercy runners placed second, third, fourth and fifth as Patricia Buehl (6th), Anna Pastina (7th), and Kaitlyn Sluyk (8th) captured championship silver for the team with Jessica Caiazzo, Emily Gifford and Ginna Davan.
The Novice Boys won their championship gold behind the strong running of Jimmy Buckley (3rd), Ryan Kilgallen (5th), Patrick Goldberg (6th), Alex Goldberg, Sean Morgan, Bard Featherston, Christopher Cole, and Devin Rocks.
Congratulations to all the runners for a great season. Thanks to all the parents and coaches. Keep running!