Five area runners compete at State Championships

By Jordan J. Michael

A pair of runners from Voorheesville, a pair from Berne-Knox-Westerlo, and one from Guilderland all battled a tough, slippery course at Lakeside Park in Pawling for the Cross-Country State Championships on Saturday.

Out of the five local runners, who competed individually, junior Derek Struck had the best outcome with a 27th-place finish in Class C with a time of 17:23. BKW Head Coach Bill Tindale said Struck was leading the race for the first half-mile.

“He pushed really hard at the start, almost too much,” said Tindale on Tuesday. “I feel like he would have placed better if he paced himself.”

At the half-way point of the race, Struck, who won the Western Athletic Conference title by 20 seconds earlier in the season, reached the huge hill with which many runners struggled.

“He lost some steam up that hill,” Tindale said. “But, I’m very proud of the confidence that he showed. He had a fantastic end to the season and he’ll continue to improve.”

Struck will be back with the Bulldogs next season with fellow juniors Connor Devine and Sean Reynolds. “They all push each other,” said Tindale. “They’ve shown a lot of progress.”

Freshman Jenna Robinson, the first Lady Dutch runner to reach States since 2004, was the first individual Section II runner to cross the line for Class AA in 35th place with a time of 19:33. Section II champion team Saratoga was competing as a team, not as individuals.

Guilderland Head Coach Dave Kosier told The Enterprise that Robinson’s goal was to beat as many individual runners as possible. Mission accomplished.

“She ran great and shattered our expectations,” said Kosier on Tuesday. Robinson fell during the second half of the race, but got up and finished.

“She’s a tough kid and kept plugging away,” Kosier added. “It was pretty exciting for a freshman that didn’t expect too much.”

Robinson and the rest of the Lady Dutch team will be heading to Bowdoin Park in Wappenders this Saturday for the Federation Meet.

Bad day

After a top-15 finish at last year’s state meet and much expectation this season at Pawling, BKW sophomore Courtney Tedeschi ran a time of 20:50 for 38th place in Class C. It was an unusual day for the otherwise astute athlete.

“She didn’t feel well and it led to an outcome that’s not up to her standards,” said Tindale. “I don’t want this to cloud the rest of her season because it was very balanced. Anyone can have a bad day.”

Tedeschi placed third in Class C sectionals on Nov. 5 and blew away the field by over one minute at the Western Athletic Conference Championships on Oct. 26. Earlier in the season, Tedeschi had a pair of firsts, a pair of seconds, and a fifth-place finish.

However, on Saturday, Tedeschi fell down the big hill and had a tricky run. “I think she felt a lot of pressure and then you combine that with the difficulty of the course,” said Tindale. “But, she has amazing work ethic and she’ll come back even harder.”

Tindale has been coaching cross-country at BKW for 15 years and he told The Enterprise that only a few people had as much “drive” as Tedeschi has.

“She does all the supplemental work and watches what she eats,” Tindale said of Tedeschi, who ran at States for her third time. “Her best days are still ahead and she’ll never give up.”

For Voorheesville, junior Michelyn Little and sophomore Joe Becker finished 59th and 72nd in Class C respectively with times of 21:42 and 18:35. Little was attending States for the fourth time in as many years, while Becker was getting his first go at it.

“All the winners are in one place, so it’s a tough race,” said Voorheesville Coach Phil Carducci. “The runners are more nervous than usual because the course is throwing a lot at them.”

Carducci compared the big hill in the middle of the course to an escalator or a rollercoaster. The mud from all the rain didn’t help, either.

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