It took a supreme effort, but the Saratoga Springs and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls cross country teams are headed back to the state championships.
Saratoga placed its front five runners in the top eight to fend off Shenendehowa by nine points for the Class AA title, while BH-BL edged Queensbury by four points for the Class A championship at last Friday's Section II meet at Saratoga Spa State Park.
BH-BL had to hold its breath while waiting for the team results after Queensbury got its first five runners across the finish line before the Spartans' top five finished the 3.04-mile course. Fortunately for BH-BL, the trio of Sam Roecker, Molly Pezzulo and Meaghan Gregory placed second, third and fourth, respectively, to give the Spartans the margin they needed to defeat Queensbury 28-32.
I think in Section II, (the competition is) just natural, said BH-BL coach Shaun Zepf. "You don't have a choice here. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best."
Likewise, Saratoga Springs received a strong challenge from Shen in the girls Class AA race. Led by freshman Lizzie Predmore, who won the individual title in a time of 17:21.9, the Plainsmen placed five runners in the top 15 to finish with 34 points. But, Saratoga packed its front five much closer than Shen did to win its ninth consecutive Sectional title with 25 points.
"They did a great job. It was a group effort," said Saratoga coach Linda Kranick.
"We knew it would be a close race," said Shen coach Lynn Lindquist. "They (Saratoga) just packed a little better than we did."
Sydney King led Saratoga with a second-place finish in a time of 17:33.0. Keelin Hollowood was fourth in a time of 17:42.7, followed by Cassie Goutos (fifth place, 17:54.5), Amanda Borroughs (sixth, 17:57.1) and Brianne Bellon (eighth, 18:15.0).