CHENANGO FORKS — Running or not, most people find 40 degree days with rain and mud to be less than ideal.
Not Waverly’s Collin Wright.
“I love these conditions,” said Wright. “I hope and pray for this kind of weather.”
He ran like it as he earned an individual qualifying spot for the New York State Cross-country Championships at the Section IV Championships Thursday, along with Lady Wolverines Sheridan Talada and Elizabeth Fritzen.
Wright (17 minutes, 19 seconds) took third overall in the Class C race, easily inside the top five needed to qualify.
“I’m very happy about this,” Wright said. “I really just wanted to go out and run my best today.”
Last year he missed making states by one spot — though he did get to run as a runner ahead of him dropped out.
There was no waiting around for dropouts this time.
“I really wanted to redeem myself,” he explained. “I feel like I’m in a good spot right now.”
He ran with fellow IAC competitors Watkins Glens’ Gabe Planty (16:50.3) and Newark Valley’s Jonny Sherwood (16:59.8) for much of the race.
“I’ve been running with those two guys — obviously they’re both fantastic runners — all year,” said Wright. “I just wanted to be up near that front pack and advance and further my season.”
The Class C boys were the fourth race of the day, out of eight total, with the course more mud than grass. Runners had kicked mud up to their shoulders by the time they finished.
“I love mud and rain and snow and every kind of conditions that can make the race more exciting and fun,” Wright said.
His teammate Nate Ackley (17:50.2) was ninth overall, missing the last qualifying spot by five seconds.
The Wolverines (89) took third as a team with Watkins Glen (69) edging Newark Valley (74) for first.
In the Class C girls’ race, Talada improved on her finish from last year, going from seventh to third.
“I’m happy with it,” remarked Talada.
She ran 20:14.6 while Chenango Forks’ Pipher Reid (19:54.5) won the race.
Reid and second place finisher, Dryden’s Emily Miller (20:08.3), ran at the front with Talada just behind for much of the race.
“I tried to stick with them for as long as I could,” she said. “I wanted to try to out kick them at the end, but it didn’t go that way.”
Talada had been trying to catch Miller all during the season and had her in her sights at the finish but ran out of room.
Regardless, this was a good showing on a senior where she’s been consistently running well.
“I’m definitely happy with it,” she said. “My times are definitely down from last year, so I’m happy with it.”
Going forward Talada wants to end her career with some hardware.
“I want to try to get top 20 because top 20 medal,” she remarked.
She will be having a teammate in her race with fellow senior Fritzen also earning a spot.
“It just feels amazing,” she exclaimed after the race. “It’s everything I’ve been working for for this season.”
Fritzen (20:46.3) was fifth overall and nabbed the fourth qualifying position.
“I knew that if I tried to stick to the lead group for the first mile and just bond right on that my time would pay off and I did that,” she explained. “I just kicked at the end and it all came together.”
Fritzen knew she was on the bubble coming in but put herself in position early to move on through.
“In the beginning, my coach yelled to me that I was in sixth,” she said. “I knew that I had to pass that Lansing girl and stay ahead of her to get fifth.”
For the second half of the race, she ran by herself with opponents close behind.
“It was definitely nerve-racking,” explained Fritzen.
However, she had a furious kick to ward off any runners.
“I was just giving everything I had,” she said. “I was wheezing so hard, so I knew I was giving it my all to the finish.”
The New York State Championships are a week from Saturday.
Tioga, in Class D, had no state qualifiers but the Tigers’ boys finished eighth as a team.
Thomas Hurd led the way with a 12th-place finish at the stroke of 19 minutes. Ty Middendorf was 23rd with Mason Card 50th, Nate Jaye adding a 69th-place run and Josh Reis scoring as the 72nd finisher.
For the Tioga girls, Mariah Nichols was 31st, Kate Burrowes finished 44th and Nicole DeBoer was 46th.