Young guns lead Spartans to Guilderland Invy title

The young runners on Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's girls cross country team keep getting better.

Led by sophomores Meaghan Gregory and Sam Roecker, the Lady Spartans have turned in dominating performances at their first two invitational meets, including last Saturday's victory at the Guilderland Invitational. Burnt Hills won the large school division title with 53 points, 30 points ahead of runner-up Colonie.

The girls definitely performed well. I'm very, very pleased, said Burnt Hills girls coach Shawn Zepf.

Gregory repeated as the large school division champion by completing the 2.7-mile course in a time of 16:24.70, nearly 20 seconds ahead of her nearest competition.

"I wanted to get out in the lead early and push my teammates," said Gregory.

Most of Gregory's teammates placed in the top 20. Roecker finished third in a time of 16:52.73, Carolyn Herkenham was 10th in a time of 17:57.46, Martha Brown placed 19th in a time of 18:26.28 and Lauren Mullins took 20th place in a time of 18:28.71.

"Seeing Sammy (Roecker) up in third place was fabulous, and some of our girls that were projected to be our seventh or eighth runners finished fourth and fifth for us," said Zepf. "They all ran great."

The Lady Spartans are hoping for similar results later this season, especially at the Section II championships in early November. Burnt Hills has its top eight runners back from last year, when it finished a close second to Academy of the Holy Names at Sectionals.

Gregory is also hoping for a Section II title. She placed second to Scotia-Glenville's Caroline King by nine seconds at last year's Sectional meet and had a top-20 finish at the state meet.

"I think she's going to challenge for the class A title," said Zepf. "The King girls (Caroline and Jillian) are very good, and the Holy Names girls are always tough. But, I think she has a chance in any race she enters."

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