A margin of less than two seconds separated the area from boasting two state cross country champions in 2012.
Marcellus senior Ryan Manahan fulfilled his destiny, briefly setting a course Record in last Saturday’s state meet at Elma Meadows, near Buffalo, while Jordan-Elbridge’s Abby Gugel nearly grabbed a state title as a ninth-grader.
In stark contrast to the cold, wet conditions that prevailed during the Section III meet at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill a week earlier, state cross country competitors at Elma Meadows were greeted to mild temperatures, at least by November standards.
That created an ideal formula for fast races, and Manahan was up to it. The Mustangs star turned the state boys Class B race into a personal showcase, as he inched away from Lake Shore’s T.J. Hornberger and finished in 15 minutes, 30.6 seconds.
Not only did he beat Hornberger (15:35.1) by 4.5 seconds, Manahan also set the Elma Meadows course record – which didn’t even last the rest of the state meet, as Fayetteville-Manlius star Nick Ryan (15:07.9) and Rush-Henrietta’s Mickey Burke (15:29.7) both did better in the Class A race later that day.
All of this atoned for the third-place finish Manahan had in 2010 and the second-place effort in the 2011 state meet at VVS, where he lost to Peru’s Dan Lennon by just 6.6 seconds.
Meanwhile, in the Class C girls race Gugel was part of a strong Section III All-Star contingent that included Megan Ann Pierce (CBA) and Kaitlyn Neal (Skaneateles), who would both finish in the top 10 – Pierce in seventh, Neal in eighth.
But Gugel topped them, and nearly everyone else. Chasing down Rye Neck’s Natalie Tanner, Gugel hit the line in 18 minutes, 49.6 seconds, which only meant second place because Tanner, in 18:47.8, beat Gugel by just 1.8 seconds.
Still, it was a marvelous race for Gugel, one of three local girls individuals in the state meet. West Genesee junior Laura Leff, though not at 100 percent, still got 13th place in the girls Class A race in a clocking of 18:20.2, while Marcellus junior Rachel Garn was solid in the Class B girls state meet, finishing 15th in 18:50.5.