Lauren Chapey ran down the final slippery slope on the 3-mile course with Middletown’s Karen Acevedo right on her back, and then the Mamaroneck freshman just took off, an orange streak on a short sprint to the finish line at White Plains High.
She had never run a varsity cross country invitational. But no one was going to take this race now from Chapey, especially after she hung two wrong turns along the hilly 3-mile route. She crossed in 20 minutes, 44.72 seconds to win the Girls Varsity II event Saturday at the 17th annual Fred Gressler Memorial Cross Country Invitational.
“I was so nervous in the beginning,” Chapey said. “There were so many people. It’s really overwhelming. … I took it out really fast and then I took a wrong turn. Three of us were going in the wrong direction. Twenty people were passing. I was just so frustrated. I had to make up for it.”
Middletown’s Alex Shodai ran away with the Boys Varsity II race in 16:55.72. Kunal Shah arrived second at 17:32.15 and Galo Vasquez came in fourth at 17:35.97 for coach Ryan Johnson’s hard-working Lakeland/Panas Rebels. They claimed the team title.
“We’re really going for the win in the county championships,” Shah said. “We really think we deserve to be champions. … But once race day comes, then I guess we’ll see.”
Vasquez saw blood on his left knee after slipping and falling on gravel about a mile and a quarter in, costing him a few seconds.
“I was a little … not angry, but bothered by it,” Vasquez said. “Third, second and fourth were really close. It could’ve made a difference.”
Briarcliff’s Stephen Shine claimed Boys Varsity I in 17:52.12. Scarsdale, led by Max Maude in second, edged Eastchester for that team title. Clarkstown North, led by Emily Betts in fourth, was second to Greenwich (Conn.) in Girls Varsity II.
Yorktown’s Emily Lederman easily ran off with her first invitational win, finishing the Girls Varsity I race in 20:44.08. The junior had previously spent fall with the swim team.
“I’ve been doing track for all my high school years,” Lederman said. “… I’m very happy that I did (switch). I’m really enjoying cross country.”
Somers, with Bene Abbate in second, Jackie Krueger in fourth despite a bad cold and Sarah Corning in fifth, topped the Girls Varsity I team standings.
“Bene was able to get ahead of (Krueger) and pull her along and help her out, and Sarah was right behind her, pushing her and encouraging her,” coach Rosalind Gallino said. “So it shows the importance of being able to run as a team.”