BEAR MOUNTAIN, NY — Fall sports give way to winter endeavors as teams begin to practice for basketball, wrestling, cheerleading and indoor track, while skiers do their dry-land training for the snowy trails that will soon grace area slopes. But the awesome autumn is not over yet. This past weekend’s Section 9 Cross-Country championships, held at blustery Bear Mountain, did signal the season’s end for most area harriers, but not for the elite runners who emerged as champions, as well as for those who qualified for the NYSPHSAA State Championship meet to be held at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central School on November 12.
In the best showing over the course of the past three years, Sullivan County produced a trio of Section 9 champions and a total of 16 runners who qualified for states, topping last year’s nine.
Tri-Valley senior Jim Bernstein (16:12.68) won his first-ever Section 9 cross-country title and returns to states looking to greatly surpass his 53rd-place Class C finish a year ago. Bernstein finally topped the field by exceeding last year’s sixth-place time of 17:08.68. “I love this course,” he said. Bernstein finished fifth at the OCIAA league championships a week prior at Bear Mountain, a harbinger of his sectional success.
Eldred junior Alex Campanella (16:15.72) successfully defended his Section 9 Class D crown as he made amends for his fourth-place finish in the OCIAA meet, which he said was far from his best showing. Campanella is one of the state’s top-ranked Class D runners. He looks to radically improve on last year’s 15th-place finish at this year’s state meet.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” is the mantra for Eldred senior Christine Donnelly (20:09.84) who won the Section 9 Class D title in her fifth try. Donnelly missed the state meet by one place in 2010. Tri-Valley’s girls won the Class C team title, thereby sending all seven of its runners to states as it edged out Sullivan West 52-56, despite the Lady Westies placing three runners among the top 10 finishers. “It’s extremely disappointing,” said SW coach George Shakelton, who claimed to have never seen a second-place team with three top 10 runners sending no one to the state meet.
Tri-Valley eighth grader Autumn Bender (19:19.25) placed third and will return to the state meet. Bender was 52nd at states last year. She will be joined by senior Oliva Rehm who finished 10th, and sophomores Brooke Gillette, Sabrena Smith and Danielle Graham who finished 14th, 15th and 17th. Freshman Alex Brooks and sophomore Devon Jones will also compete by dint of the team victory, its first since 2007 and its 19th overall. Missing out from Sullivan West was junior Dani Myers (19:45.22) who finished just one place out in 7th. Myers won a medal at states last year for her 20th-place finish where she was joined by freshman Kelsey Dutton, who finished ninth at this year’s sectionals in 19:55.63. Eighth grader Courtney Meyerer (19:53.79) was eighth.
Other state qualifiers include Monticello eighth-grade twins Camryn and Sidney Johnson, who took third and eighth in the Class B Sectional with times of 19:14.14 and 19:53.59 respectively. Tri-Valley’s Omar Lopez returns to states with his seventh-place finish of 16:51.62. Lopez fell, which cost him several places. Making it to states for the first time is Sullivan West junior Reed Scott (16:56.50). They will join Bernstein in the Class C state race. Eldred senior Hunter Proscia (16:54.97) took second in the Class D sectional and returns to states with Campanella. Proscia was 42nd at states a year ago. Eldred eighth grader Sarah Malzahn (21.59.62) will join Donnelly in the Class D state race as the youngster parlays her eighth-place finish at sectionals into a chance to run at states. Last but not least is Livingston Manor/Roscoe senior Neil Mock (18:02.10), who took ninth in the Class D run in LMR’s first cross-country season.
In other final news of fall, Liberty’s boys soccer team lost 3-0 to James I. O’Neill in a Class B quarterfinal, while the Lady Indians lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to O’Neill. Sullivan West’s volleyball team put up a great fight but fell 3-0 to O’Neill in a quarterfinal match.