Saturday Cross Country Showdown
With No State Meet, Track Clubs Compete
A dozen of the best cross country runners from around New York State took to the links of Bemus Point Golf Club and Tap House on Saturday for a friendly competition in lieu of the canceled New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships.
Members of the Black Knights Track Club, who compete with Tully High School during the regular season, made the three-hour trek south to take on the Bemus Point Track Club, whose members spent the year with Maple Grove.
In what everyone knew would be a close matchup, the Black Knights prevailed 27-29 over the hosts on a clear and snow-free fall day.
“It was awesome,” Black Knights Track Club coach Michelle Rauber said after the race. “It was great because we didn’t have a sectional meet, so our season ended two weeks ago. So we went into our club season and I said to (my runners) ‘Do you want to go?’ All of their parents were on board.”
Brooke Rauber, Michelle’s daughter, would finish the day with a new course record of 17:22, besting the previous mark of 18:38 by Lockport’s Sydney Nowicki. One of the top senior runners in the nation, Rauber took seventh at the 2019 Nike Nationals with a time of 17:38. That time was just behind winner and 2019 NYSPHSAA champion Katelyn Tuohy of North Rockland High School, who will be Rauber’s teammate next year.
“She was coming in as one of the top recruit seniors in the nation, and she’s decided to go to North Carolina State, which is looking very strong as a team for both track and cross country,” Bemus Point Track Club coach Steve Matteson said. “It was nice to be able to put something on so everybody had something to work for at the end of the year.”
Katie Edinger would take second for the Black Knights in 19:47, and Lilly Fowler-Conner would grab fourth, but Bemus Point would rack up points in the middle as Christina Peppy took third (19:51), Ava Crist fifth (20:38), Tori Pavlock sixth (20:48), Abby Brunenavs seventh (20:50) and Allison Bohall eighth (21:27).
Hannah Tarbrake (22:08) and Lizzy Lai (24:11) would round things out for the hosts.
“Last year there were three teams in Class D,” Matteson said, speaking of the NYSPHSAA team finals. “Delhi from Section IV, Tully from Section III, and Maple Grove here in Section VI, that were all within five points of a state championship last year. Delhi was the champion, Maple Grove second and Tully third, and we didn’t have any seniors graduate last year. So we knew that this year it would be very close between the three of us again with everyone coming back.”
After unsuccessfully lobbying for a New York State club team championship meet, Matteson and Michelle Rauber were able to organize Saturday’s impromptu head-to-head race.
“Tully and Maple Grove have been probably in the top three of states, I’d say the whole last decade. It has been very close in Class D,” Matteson said. “We decided we would have a straight-up dual meet between the Black Knights Track Club and the Bemus Point Track Club after the season was over because the girls are in shape, they’ve been working for this, and it has been a friendly rivalry.”
Hoping to return to a regular season schedule next year, the Maple Grove Red Dragons will be without the core of Crist, Peppy and Pavlock. Together, the trio have led their program to phenomenal success since beginning their careers as underclassmen.
“We worked for everything and I’m just so proud of these girls for working as hard as they did and not knowing what was going to happen next. Not knowing if we would have a race the next week even,” Matteson said. “This year everybody has had to be resilient … get over adversity that we’ve all had to overcome. These girls didn’t know what they were going to have in August. The still didn’t know what everything was going to look like in September. We kept our hopes up, we kept working hard.”
1. Brooke Rauber (BK); 2. Katie Edinger (BK); 3. Christina Peppy (BP); 4. Lilly Fowler-Conner (BK); 5. Ava Crist (BP); 6. Tori Pavlock (BP); 7. Abby Brunenavs (BP); 8. Allison Bohall (BP); 9. Lauren Yonko (BK); 10. Hannah Tarbrake (BP); 11. Ella Hall (BK); 12. Lizzy Lai (BP); 13. Jaden Teeter (BK); 14. Olivia Sam-Foote (BK). T–17:22