The Grout Run course is notoriously short, fast and mostly paved.
The Colonie girls cross country team took full advantage of those conditions to turn in its first victory in seven years at the annual race through Schenectady's Central Park Saturday.
Jackie Malecki won the individual title to lead the Garnet Raiders to a 33-39 victory over Tappan Zee in the Varsity 1 division race.
We thought we'd have a good day because we are a track team, and this course is built for a track team, said Colonie girls coach Frank Myers. "It's short, it's fast and there aren't a lot of hills."
Malecki took the lead between the first- and second-mile marks and pulled away for a 10-second victory over Tappan Zee's Caile Kohlbrenner. Malecki's time of 16:28.51 earned the freshman her first varsity invitational victory.
"I was kind of pacing off the first girl because I knew I didn't want to do the work for [the rest of the lead pack]," said Malecki.
Kohlbrenner fended off Colonie eighth-grader Katie Schillaci for second place with a time of 16:38.94. Schillaci placed third with a time of 16:39.52.
"A freshman was our first girl, and an eighth grader was our second girl today," said Myers.
Tappan Zee had three of the next four finishers to stake a claim for winning the team title, but its fifth runner crossed the finish line in 20th place. Meanwhile, Colonie got its third, fourth and fifth runners in between eighth and 11th place to pick up the necessary points to fend off Tappan Zee.
Amy Becker led Colonie's second pack with an eighth-place finish in a time of 16:53.05. Shannen Kerin (10th, 17:00.52) and Rachel Keller (11th, 17:01.61) rounded out the Garnet Raiders' top five.
Myers said beating Tappan Zee for the team title is a step in the right direction for a Colonie squad that had been struggling in recent years.