WAPPINGERS FALLS — Bowdoin Park was the setting Saturday for the Section 1 cross-country championships.
It was a place of extremes.
Consider that three weeks earlier many of Saturday’s runners competed in the Section 1 Coaches Invitational.
At 38 degrees, when Pearl River’s Una Boylan crossed the finish to win the girls Class B title Saturday, the temperature was 40 degrees colder than when she finished first at the invite.
The extremes also found Bronxville’s Maddy Williams winning the girls Class C race and leading her team to the Class C girls team title
She’s a freshman and will make her first trip to next Saturday’s state cross-country championships in Chenango Valley State Park in Broome County.
Boylan led Pearl River to the B title. Her coach, Dan Doherty, has been to states many, many times.
Saturday marked not only the 38th time a Doherty-coached Pearl River girls cross-country team won a Section 1 title.
But, moreover, the win also gave Doherty Section 1 cross-country titles in six different decades with Pearl River.
The extremes also found Noa Karchmer, the only girl representing The Leffell School, the Hartsdale-based Jewish school, walking with her male teammates three miles to Bowdoin Park before running 3.1 miles, then walking back to the motel where they were staying. The school's religious practice is to not use motorized transportation for school-sponsored events on Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath.
But Karchmer, whose day started with a prayer service, qualified along with two of her male teammates for states, Karchmer placing sixth in the girls Class D race.
The fastest girls time of the day belonged to Ursuline’s Daphne Banino at 18:35.8. That time was the fifth fastest ever by a Westchester girl at Bowdoin.
It has been an up and down season for the Division I recruit. Up has included winning at the vaunted Manhattan College Invitational. Down included twice taking wrong turns on the course at Somers to turn likely victories into second- and fourth-place finishes, the latter particularly stinging since it was at the Westchester County championship.
Ursuline and Banino were taking no chances this time. Her team ran the Bowdoin course on Halloween, then, on coach Jan Mitchell’s suggestion, Banino’s dad drove her to Bowdoin so she could run it again Wednesday.
“It’s stuck in there now,” Banino joked of having the course in her head.
“It was a relief to come back (to win) and definitely a relief to know where I was going,” Banino said with a laugh. “And it’s also great to race here again,” she added, referring to the park being closed to meets last year due to COVID.
Second-place finisher Sydney Leitner of Yorktown, who won both races at Somers, clocked 19:03.7.
Leitner was the ultimate good sport, indicating Banino deserved not only to have won Saturday but also earlier against her.
But Leitner wasn’t as enthused with Bowdoin, joking, “It’s great it’s the world’s best challenge. But it’s the world’s best challenge. You only love it when you’re done.”
What she did love was having two former Section 1 runners and her future Binghamton University teammates on hand to cheer her on. Ex-John Jay-Cross River star Cam Crawford and former Byram Hills standout Jennifer Mui made that trip.
No more Huggies
In August, Mike Kiernan had his Pearl River boys cross-country team training on a trail.
Looking at the young faces, a resident casually asked him, “Is this a modified cross-country practice?” meaning middle school.
Kiernan’s expectations for the season weren't high with his starting seven being five sophomores and two juniors.
At the end of Saturday’s Class B race, though, he quipped, “The Huggies came off today.”
Pearl River won the boys Class B race with 77 points. Tappan Zee was second (92), Somers third (113) and Eastchester edged Brewster (both 155 points) in a tie-breaker for fourth out of 17 teams that scored.
Brewster's Pat Ford took the 146-runner race in 16:58.3. Nanuet's John Fontanez was second (17;02.8), John Jay-Cross River's Max Goodman third (17:09), Lourdes' Matt Ferreri fourth (17:20.4) and Tappan Zee's Austin Holmes fifth (17:31.7).
They'll be going to states along with Pearl River's top finishers: John Hannagan (10th, 18:05.5), Max Prunty 11th, 18:07.9), Sean Hughes (12th, 18:18.9), Dylan Lee (21st, 18:31.7), Ryan Paradine (23rd, 18:40.1), C.J. Ritchie (24th, 18:40.5) and Aiden Durcan (33rd, 19:04.2).
Ford won, he said, by doing what he does well and taking the lead on a hill — in this case, what he calls El Diablo.
"I found a second gear," said Ford, who entered the season wanting to win sectionals and also to be top-10 at states.
Fontanez noted he's also looking for a top-10 finish there.
His runner-up finish was impressive since he rolled an ankle a little more than a mile into the race.
He said from there he took a "hammer through" approach.
Fontanez had wanted the title but said, "Ford ran an amazing race. Give props to him."
Mamaroneck edges Arlington for boys A team title
After Mamaroneck's Jason Markopoulos (16:33.6) and teammate Matt Doherty (16:42) finished first and second, respectively, in the Class A boys race, the waiting game was on.
They expected the race for the team title to be close and they were right.
When the scores were tabulated, the Tigers edged Arlington 71-73 to earn the trip to states as a team with North Rockland third (120 points) and Fox Lane edging Clarkstown South 131-132 for fourth among 16 teams that scored.
Sam Young (seventh place, 17:21.8), Max Robinson (22nd, 18:04.8), Sam Carrillo (40th, 18:41.7) and Cameron Lee (114th, 21:59.9) will also represent Mamaroneck.
Also making the trip will be Arlington's Ethan Green (third place, 16:56.8), Fox Lane's Harry Griff (fourth, 16:59.2), Clarkstown South's Kieran Dudek (fifth, 17:13), Lakeland/Panas's Bobby Mayclim (sixth, 17:17.9) and White Plains' Ronan Staab (eighth, 17:26.8).
A senior, Markopoulos, who loves running at Bowdoin, went to states two years ago. He recalled one of the last athletes to qualify for that team from Section 1 not only beating him for the first time that season at states but also medaling.
"Anything can happen. It's just an insane day. It doesn't matter where you're ranked," said Markopoulos, whose time was the fastest of all 421 boys who ran Saturday and fastest of all 725 runners overall.
His anything-can-happen observation was also true for sectionals.
The sophomore Mayclim took off at the sound of the starter's pistol with few expectations.
"I didn't think I had a shot at (making states)," he said, noting, however, after attacking the course's huge hill, he started believing he had a chance to be in the mix.
"I had a feeling at about a mile-and-a-half," he explained.
Green, who sported a scrape on his left shoulder after running into a tree, has an unusual approach to running, chatting at those near him.
"I run and talk," he said, noting he was talking at one point to Griff, telling him, "Come on. We've got this."
There is logic behind the approach.
"If the person next to me goes fast, I go fast," Green explained.
While Green's team didn't quite make states, Arlington coach Steve Arnett wasn't upset.
Arlington, a long-time force in Class A, had been down the past two seasons. Arnett said the goal he set early in the fall was for it to win its league title this season, which it did, and to finish top-five at sectionals.
With his team running well, he recently tweaked that to top-three but held out hope for top-two, since second place gets a plaque.
"This is a big step forward," he said, noting his team hadn't lost to Mamaroneck but had, rather, been beaten by the Tigers for first place.
"We came, we ran well and we got beat," he said, noting the race marked his team's best performance of the season.
Bronxville is back
Bronxville's girls team has also built a powerhouse reputation. But it was also a little down recently.
It will go to states with strong expectations after it took first with 20 points. Hastings (84) was second, Briarcliff (87) third, Irvington (91) fourth and Dobbs Ferry (109) fifth out of seven Class C girls teams that scored.
Hastings coach Molly Guilfoyle was clearly happy with her team's showing, saying, "We haven't placed this high as long as I can remember."
Williams won in 19:36.4. Teammate Ava Black was second (19:49.2), Pleasantville's Adriana Catalano, who'll run next year for Johns Hopkins, was third (20:25.9), Bronxville's Lux Burgin fourth (20:29.6) and Putnam Valley's Gabriella Randazzo fifth (20:37).
Also qualifying were Dobbs Ferry's Fenna LaBan (sixth place, 20:53.5), Putnam Valley's Bronagh Cassidy (eighth, 21:12) and Hastings' Anna Thomas (ninth, 21:33.4).
The other states-bound Bronxville runners are Katie O'Hare (seventh, 20:54.1), Rory Denning (12th, 22:05.5), Quinn Sheehan (13th, 22:16.9) and Charlotte Murphy (20th, 23:10).
The freshman Williams, who called last year's cancellation of states due to COVID concerns a "bummer," said her team qualified because of the work it logged.
"I think our coaches are great. We're a really young team and we've been working really had to close the gap with everyone. ... It's great we're going to states."
Catalano will make her second and final trip to cross-country states.
Last time, she said she ran too conservatively. This time her plan is to "give my all."
More state-bound runners
Qualifiers for states had to finish top-five or be among the top seven finishers on the class team championship team. The exception was if a member or members of the top team were in the top five, an equal number of places would be added.
In girls Class A, those qualifying in addition to Banino and Leitner were North Rockland’s Jade Pazmino (third place, 19:34.9); John Jay-East Fishkill’s Amelie Guzman (fourth place, 19:38.5) and Fox Lane’s Morgan Eigel (fifth, 19:40.3).
Suffern upset North Rockland 75-80 for the girls Class A team title in a field that included 13 squads that scored.
Ursuline took third with 125 points, one point ahead of fourth-place Scarsdale. Carmel rounded out the top five with 147 points.
Suffern's seven top finishers will make the trip.
They include Fiona Young (11th place, 20:36.3), Brooke Hirsch (12th, 20:41.6), Lily Diamond (14th, 20:50.8), Kaya Duran (23rd, 21:25.9), Catalina Echavarria (25th, 21:34.3), Una Young (40th, 22:28.6) and Mia Breauninger (43rd, 22:34.8).
Hirsch noted Suffern only led North Rockland by a point deep in the race. She said going in, she figured her team’s chances of winning were 50/50.
“We really wanted it, though. The whole season we’ve been working for this,” the senior said.
Young, a junior, said her team did a good job staying together in a pack to secure the win.
Hirsch said that will be its approach at states — that and, Young said, having fun.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said of her team competing there together.
In winning the girls Class B team title, Pearl River amassed 29 points. The runner-up was Somers with 70. Tappan Zee was third (79), Eastchester fourth (110) and Lourdes fifth (164).
Besides Boylan, the top five runners included Peekskill's Brianna Carter (second place, 19:58.7), Pearl River's Mady Moroney (third, 20:20.6), Sleepy Hollow's Bianca Verseci fourth,(20:26.9) and Harrison's Katrina Torelli (fifth, 20:28.2).
Because Pearl River had two in the top five, Somers' Gabi Parisi (sixth, 20:36 and Eastchester's Aamukt Kottapalli (seventh, 20:37.5) also qualified for states.
The other Pearl River runners who'll make the trip include Kristen Gazzara (eighth, 20:45.1), Meabh McDonnell (11th, 21:05.1), Aoife Fitzgerald (13th, 21:21.6), Claire O'Sullivan (14th, 21:30.2)and Catie Horan (20th, 21:47.5).
"We've come a long, long way," Doherty said, noting not only has Boylan steadily improved but two freshmen, Gazzara and McDonnell, and Fitzgerald, a senior who didn't make the varsity team until this season, also performed well.
"It's really special," Boylan said of Doherty getting his sixth-decade sectional title. "He works very hard and I'm very happy we could make him proud."
Boylan, who'll run in college but hasn't announced where, has run previously at states.
She said that she knows it's important to go out fast. But she added, "If we go out and perform the way we've done, we'll be just fine."
Parisi, who'll play lacrosse next year at Stonehill College, only took up cross-country, she noted, to stay in shape for lacrosse.
"I never thought I'd have this experience," she said of qualifying for states. "It's a dream come true."
Torelli, a junior who has run since third grade and competitively since seventh, noted her team has been hit by injuries this year.
She said making states became that much more important as a result.
"I felt I owed it to myself and my team. I felt it's finally my time to shine and to show I had it in me," Torelli said.
Carter had two things going for her Saturday, besides her excellent speed.
She noted she likes running in the cold and she's healed from an ankle sprain from which she was still recovering when running Bowdoin for the first time.
Qualifying for states, she said, is "really cool."
Class C boys
Irvington would agree.
The Bulldogs boys team earned the trip north with 57 points to win the boys Class C title.
Briarcliff was second (86), Rye Neck third (104), Dobbs Ferry fourth (110) and North Salem fifth (153).
Pleasantville junior Alex Searle ran 17:13.9 for the win with Pawling's Noah Brightman (17:18.6) second.
Briarcliff's Giovanni Culotta (17:20.1) was third, Rye Neck's Joe Lavelle (17:26.8) fourth and Irvington's Liam Lyons fifth (17:31.8).
Also qualifying as an individual was Dobbs Ferry's Marc Lucasey (seventh, 17:42.2).
The rest of the Irvington qualifiers include Lucas Turano (sixth, 17:40.5), Brice Pierce (13th, 18:09.4), Ryan Carron (14th, 18:09.6), INdy Minkoff (19th, 18:18), Taoig Cypher (23rd, 18:42.3) and Michell Milun (26th, 18:48.9).
Searle, whose time was a personal best for him at Bowdoin by a couple of seconds, noted Culotta passed him to take over the lead but he regained it on the hills.
He said he's looking to finish in the top three at states.
Lyons pointed to the work his Irvington squad has put in saying, "The team deserves this."
"It means so much. We've been working so hard the last six months — everyone on the team for the entire summer and season," he said.
Haldane representing D schools
Class D schools are the minority in heavily-populated Section 1.
Only 12 girls overall competed from four schools in the D race.
Haldane sophomore Eloise Pearsall won in 25:28.9.
In fact, her team took the first-through-fifth places and was the only squad with the requisite five runners to qualify for states, anyway.
Joining her there will be Celia Drury, Helen Nicholls, Keira Shanahan and Adnr Vasconcelos.
Besides Karchmer, whose sixth-place time was 28:15.8, Tuckahoe's Emily Swenson, Arielle Savilla and Leah Charity-Spriggs and Alexander Hamilton's Gabrielle Pellegrino qualified.
Pearsall, who went to states two years ago, said her plan was to "keep a positive mindset."
On the boys side, where 26 runners competed, the Blue Devils took the team title with 24 points.
Leffell was second (37) and Hamilton third (68).
Haldane finished one-two in the race with Luke Parrella winning in 19:04.6 and John Kisslinger second (19:43).
Also going to states for Haldane are Liver Petkus, Conrad White, Roy Smith, Jackson Twoguns and Brendan Shanahan.
Leffell's Mitchell Breakstone and Jared Schwartz, Hamilton's Miguel Gonzalez and Tuckahoe's Owen Gjertsen and Andrew Swenson also qualified.
Pearsall, who has been at states once before, noted his team didn't find out Leffell was running until hours before the race.
"That worried us a little bit," he said, noting, though, he told his teammates, "You know what to do."
"We have a very close team this year. (Going to states) will be fun," Pearsall predicted.
Nancy Haggerty covers cross-country, track & field, field hockey, skiing, ice hockey, girls lacrosse and other sporting events for The Journal News/lohud. Follow her on Twitter at both @HaggertyNancy and at @LoHudHockey.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Cross-country: Doherty notches 6th-decade title, 8 teams to states