In The Homestretch

Postseason Begins With CCAA?Championships

Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s Kylee Odell is one of the favorites to win the girls race at the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association cross country championships today at Bemus Point Golf Club. P-J file photo

Considering the weather that Western New York has suffered over the recent days and weeks, it is a good thing that today’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association cross country championship is once again being hosted on the grounds of Bemus Point Golf Club.

“It’s the only place in Chautauqua County that is still not a mud pit,” Maple Grove cross country coach Steve Matteson said after inspecting the course Thursday evening. “The course is very good. It (deals with) water well and we got our Maple Grove cross country parents and custodial staff helping to put lines down (Thursday). The course looks like it is in great shape as long as we can bring the weather tomorrow.”

All 15 CCAA teams will gather for today’s girls race at 3 p.m., while the boys runners will take off at approximately 3:30 before the modified heats get underway.

The host Red Dragons will enter as both the boys and girls CCAA champions, but there is no doubt that the day will be filled with competitive races.

On many occasions this season, the area’s finest runners have entered different heats at large events, so Friday will offer one of the first chances for open competition.

Maple Grove’s Christina Peppy will look to challenge Clymer/Sherman/Panama’s Kylee Odell and others for the CCAA title. P-J file photo

“Both the boys and girls races will have between five to 10 runners who on any given day can win this race,” Matteson said. “Kylee Odell is running very well from Clymer/Sherman/Panama, as is Emily Brown from Fredonia. She had a very good states-course race a few weeks back.”

The tandem of Ava Christ and Christina Peppy have finished near the top of every race this year for the Red Dragons, and will look to continue their strong performances today.

“For the boys you can pick a name out of the hat for 10 of them that are all within seconds of each other depending on the day,” Matteson said. “I see a lot of uncertainty coming out of this individual race.”

“It is going to be who feels good and who runs the course well on that day,” Matteson added. “You have Diego Rey from Fredonia, Ronan McDonald from Randolph, Anthony Ruiz from Dunkirk, Peter Auer from Maple Grove, Eddie Scroxton and Dagon Bryant from Southwestern, and Bryce Baglia and Collin Barmore from Falconer/Cassadaga Valley.”

Considering the number of runners who are likely in contention for both the boys and girls individual title, it seems safe to say that distance running in the Southern Tier is alive and well.

“The competition breeds talent, and talent breeds competition,” Matteson said. “It’s nice to see how the CCAA has some of the top-caliber runners in the state let alone in Section VI. We’re very lucky we have the competition that we have.”