Victorious Corning boys team, 2 STAC West girls qualify for Nike Cross Nationals

Corning's boys cross country powerhouse is taking its show national after capturing the team title Saturday at the Nike Cross Regionals at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.

Corning Track Club, as it was known for this meet, totaled 71 points to edge out the score of 76 from Assissi XC (Long Island's St. Anthony's) for the New York region team title, adding another championship to a season highlighted by a repeat New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A title. Monroe-Woodbury took third with a score of 109.

The event also included New England regional races. The top two boys and girls teams in each regional, along with the five highest-finishing runners from outside those teams, automatically qualified for Nike Cross Nationals, to be held Dec. 3 at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon.

Joining Corning's boys team will be Sarah Lawson of the Hawks' girls team. She placed seventh.

Elmira's Vicky Mordvinova also qualified for nationals with a ninth-place finish.

Nike covers expenses for its national meet.

"This will be an awesome opportunity for the kids," said Corning coach Ray Lawson, who is Sarah's dad. "They bring in the Nike professional runners and they do a lot of talks, as well as really build up the race. Really treat the kids well and it’s a very fun experience, very rewarding experience for all their hard work."

The Corning boys cross country team qualified for Nike Cross Nationals with a first-place finish at the New York Regional on Nov. 26, 2022 at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.
The Corning boys cross country team qualified for Nike Cross Nationals with a first-place finish at the New York Regional on Nov. 26, 2022 at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.

What It Means

This will be the second time for Corning competing at the national meet. The 2017 state champion team also qualified.

There was no Nike national meet last year because of the pandemic. Corning's Jack Gregorski, the Class A state champion, competed in the individual-focused Eastbay Cross Country Championships. Most runners from the Hawks' state champion team ran at the season-ending Nike regional meet.

"We had a team that we felt would have made it last year, so that was a little bit frustrating for those guys," Ray Lawson said. "Like so many other people, things were canceled with COVID. The first goal (this year) was to win a sectional championship and then try to win a state championship and if things were still going well then keep it rolling."

Bange leads Corning boys

Two-time Section 4 Class A champion Ashton Bange was the top finisher for the Corning boys, placing ninth in 16 minutes, 26.7 seconds. Maximus Haynia of Westhampton Beach won in 15:57.9.

Also for Corning in the field of 174, Gabe Cornfield placed 20th (16:44.1), Marcus Homa 24th (16:46), Tevin McLaren 34th (16:52.1), DJ Cornfield 39th (17:02), Joshua Beres 62nd (17:29.3) and Jaxyn Mahoney 69th (17:33.9).

"Ashton’s getting healthier and healthier, Josh Beres is getting healthier and coming back from where he was at the beginning of the season," Ray Lawson said. "Marcus Homa came through huge for us today. He had a big meet at the state meet and today he was our No. 3."

Corning, Monroe-Woodbury and St. Anthony's have been atop the state rankings all season. Monroe-Woodury beat out St. Anthony's last week for the New York State Federation team title. Corning did not compete, instead focusing on training for regionals.

"We knew we ran well, but it was hard to tell how well the other two teams ran that we were racing against," Lawson added of Saturday's race.

Elsewhere in the boys race, Vestal's Timothy Smith placed 14th in 16:35.1 and teammate Liam Cody was 17th in 16:39.8.

STAC West girls earn national berths

The national-qualifying efforts of Lawson and Mordvinova brings to mind the success of Corning's Jessica Lawson and Elmira's Abbey Wheeler, who in 2014 competed together at Nike Cross Nationals. Lawson, also Ray's daughter, went on to an All-American career at Stanford and Wheeler did the same at Providence.

Sarah Lawson finished Saturday's race in 18:40.6. Mordvinova's time was 18:49.6. Lillie Bogdan of Frontier won in 18:24.9.

"They both had amazing days and they’re both going out to nationals together, so that’s pretty exciting," Ray Lawson said. "It's great to see a Corning and Elmira girl going out there."

Corning's girls team finished fourth with a score of 130. Team champion Kinetic RC (Saratoga) put four runners in the top eight for a score of 19 and will be joined at nationals by runner-up Elm Ave A.C. (Bethlehem).

Sadie Beres took 52nd (20:59.5) and Lauren Roche 54th (21:04.4) for Corning's next two finishes, with teammates Taylor Farrell 65th (21:46), Cassandra Collins 69th (21:48.9), Meghan McLaughlin 70th (21:52.4) and Ella Grinnell 78th (22:09.9). Elmira eighth-grader Ella Devlin finished 62nd (21:34.1) among 109 runners.

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This article originally appeared on Elmira Star-Gazette: Corning boys finished first at Nike Cross Regionals