Niskayuna cross country coach John Sharkey said he knew his team was going to be better than it was last year, but even he didn't expect what happened at last Saturday's Springstead Invitational.
Marshall Pagano won the boys individual title, and the Niskayuna girls team placed second to a powerful Queensbury squad at Shaker's annual season-opening invitational at Colonie Town Park in Latham.
Pagano surged past Shenendehowa's Ian Dorsett and Columbia's Kyle Gronostaj with one mile to go in the 3.1-mile race and pulled away for a five second victory. Pagano finished with a time of 15:42.3, while Dorsett placed second with a time of 15:47.2.
It was definitely really tough, said Pagano, who has recovered from a leg injury that slowed him down last year. "The guys who took it out did it fast. I just tried to keep close."
"He has been training outstandingly," said Sharkey. "He's been working so hard and running so fast. He ran the whole race well, but he finished so great today."
Pagano's victory helped Niskayuna place fourth in the boys team standings with 124 points. Shaker took first place with 39 points, 25 points ahead of Queensbury.
The Niskayuna girls didn't have a runner in the top five, but five Silver Warriors placed between seventh and 25th place to help their team finish with 74 points. Queensbury " with three runners in the top 10 " won the team title with 42 points.
"We didn't even expect [our pack] to be that close," said Sharkey. "Our fifth runner [Danielle Skufca] finished 25th."
Kerri Valero led Niskayuna with a seventh-place performance in a time of 18:51.8. Leigh Ann Labate placed 11th with a time of 19:39.4, Maggie Hensel was 13th with a time of 19:52.8 and Shannon Trant finished 18th with a time of 20:25.9.