Championship Garnets in league of their own

Rye’s cross-country teams performed superbly in the League Championship Meet October 13 at wind-whipped Byram Hills.

The girls scored a 27, completing a perfect season (10-0) and winning the League by defeating Harrison (49), Byram Hills (56), and Port Chester (99). Six Garnets monopolized the top nine by reaching the finish line bunched in an 80-second span between 22:10.5 and 23:29.8. Ellen Friedmann (3rd), Nagomi Ogura (4th), Alison Mackay (5th), Caitlin Hartnett (7th), Kahea Mueller (8th), and Zoe Davitt (9th) earned All-League status for placing in the top 10.

“It was really exciting to be able to win,” said Lindsey Hanley, a junior and captain who finished 19th.. “While we already beat all the teams in League play, we still needed to win today to be the undisputed champs. Our team knew we had a lot at stake going into this, so we all ran our hardest and pushed each other.”

On the boys’ side, senior captain Max Robinson sped to a first place finish in 17:10.6, a full 24 seconds ahead of the second place racer. The win gave him the individual League championship as well as All-League status. Four other Garnets earned All-League honors for finishing in the top 14. Taylor Love and Mason Curtis, also a captain, finished sixth and seventh respectively, while Gavin Conway and Harrison Janart rounded out the group at 13 and 14. As a team, the boys (9-1) finished second to outright League champs Byram Hills.

“Practice, hard work, and dedication are the reasons for our success,” said head coach Craig Sandhaus. “It takes a lot of time – and miles – on each runner’s part to get into race shape. They put in the time this season. Many of this year’s athletes participated in summer workouts, which got them ready for the season sooner than in the past.”

Sandhaus and girls’ coach Charles Carman have been delighted by strong performances all season long. They were effusive in their praise of returning male athletes like Love, Thomas Mayo-Smith, Conway, and especially Robinson, whose first place finish at the JFK Invitational was a season highlight, as well as cross-country veterans on the girls’ team, including Friedmann, Mackay, Davitt, Hartnett, Hanley, Mueller, and Julia Pasqualini.

Rye’s returning stars clearly were vital to the teams’ wildly successful combined record of 19-1, but a few first-year runners also made an impact. Curtis, Janart, and Roberto Velastegui proved to be stalwarts for the boys, and Ogura and Rebecca Walsh made positive contributions on the girls’ side.

“This is a unique team,” said Sandhaus. “We’re a family, and that’s what makes our success so fun.”

Up next for the Garnets is the Coaches and Officials Invitational Meet October 24, and then the Westchester County Meet and Sectionals.

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