The stars stood out, and the standouts were stars on a cloudy, then rainy, day during the 52nd McQuaid Invitational.
And in some cases, there was no one in between the familiar names in Section V high school cross country and the runners who seemed like locks to win Saturday at Genesee Valley Park.
People in the know and her speed statistics label Jessica Lawson, a senior at Corning in Section IV, a national-caliber runner. Sure enough, Lawson had few if any issues dealing with the damp three-mile course in 16 minutes, 28.2 seconds, the invitational record among all varsity girls by more than seven seconds.
Webster Thomas senior Amanda Vestri seemed pleased to finish the girls seeded large schools race in 17:03.1, good for second place behind Lawson. This was after she beat a clump of Fayetteville-Manlius runners, including a reigning state champion, a week ago to win an elite division of the McDaniel-Baxter Invitational at Chenango Valley State Park.
“I wasn’t really too ecstatic about my performance (on the next state championship course),’’ Vestri said. “I mean, I was happy about the win, but the time wasn’t really what I was looking for. My legs didn’t feel as good as they did today.
“So, today is the best feeling I’ve had in my running career. Definitely, today was really the first time I was like over the moon about it. I would’ve really liked to go under 17 (minutes), but I’ll take it.’’
Lawson separated herself from the other contenders fairly quickly, but Churchville-Chili senior Anna Kostarellis was pleased to finish third in 17:26, about 20 seconds faster than her time in the McQuaid Invitational as a sophomore. Kostarellis missed last year’s meet due to pain in her shins.
Vestri also ran her fastest time at this meet.
“I knew that (defeating) Jessica would be a very ambitious goal, so I wasn’t really trying to beat her or anything. But having an amazing runner in the field, it was easy to run a hard, fast time,” Vestri said. “I had Anna, my Section V teammate, basically with me. I always love racing with her. She pushes me all of the time, too.
“We had a great field and they all pushed me to run fast. I’m really grateful for that. I just want to thank the Lord and I couldn’t have done it without him. My faith keeps me going every day.”
Noah Affolder, a senior at Carlisle High in Pennsylvania, just about said the same thing, as he shared stories connected to verses in the Bible after resetting the boys course record he owned to 14:12.7.
As Affolder squatted near the finish line, McQuaid Invitational founder Bob Bradley raised his voice during his in-race commentary into a microphone.
“Great race, Noah!” Bradley said before addressing on-lookers. “You’ve just seen the greatest running performance in the 43 years here.”
Affolder is clearly a star, despite having three coaches in the last four years. When Affolder set the previous McQuaid course record at 1:14.9 in 2015, he ran with the team at Carthage in Section III or Syracuse/Watertown-region.
“It means I’m coachable,” Affolder said politely.
Penfield wanted a respectable showing as a team during the same race. The Patriots finished fifth, led by top-15 finishers Tyler Senall, a junior who came in ninth, and senior Brad Farnham.
“I think we’re pretty high up there,” Senall said. “That’s a lot better than what we did last year. We’re improving a lot each year (at the McQuaid).
“Two years ago, we were in an unseeded race. Last year, we did OK. We’re happy.”
Pittsford Mendon junior Nathan Lawler was runner-up to East Aurora junior Ian Russ in the boys seeded medium schools race. His time of 14:51.1, however, was fastest among Section V varsity boys for the second consecutive year.
“The first mile we got out in like 4:44,” Lawler said. “That was about as fast as I wanted to be. The second and third miles wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I’ll take it any day.
“It’s 12 seconds faster than last year, so it’s an improvement. I really wanted to get a fast time, move up on the all-time list. If I could get the win with that, great. The real focus was on time and just running my own race. We raced each other last year, and he’s improved a lot. I definitely saw him as a threat in this race.”
The Mendon boys, ranked sixth in the state among Class B teams, finished third, behind No. 1 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Xavier out of New York City, state-ranked No. 5 in Class A, in the team standings.
“We wanted to go for the win,” Lawler said. “We wanted to defend the title we won last year. If not, I think we’re still in a good place right now, even with a close loss.”
Livonia junior Hayleigh Palotti, the 2015 Democrat and Chronicle All-Greater Rochester Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, came out the winner of her seeded small schools race. Palotti, who finished in 18:02.6, spent quite a bit of time with Trumansburg freshman Molly MacQueen around the course. They were basically shoulder-to-shoulder with about 600 yards remaining.
“Going down the (final) hill I used the momentum to carry me through,” Palotti said. “I think my finish was pretty strong. My coach told me that once we get to the end, I should be able to pull through with my track speed and stuff.
“I knew I could go.”
Varsity champions from Section V
Addison — unseeded boys small schools
Churchville-Chili — unseeded boys large
Sydney Beach (Red Creek) — unseeded girls small
Payton Gleason (Churchville-Chili) — unseeded boys large
Greece Arcadia — unseeded boys medium
Harley-Allendale Columbia — unseeded girls small
Hayleigh Palotti — seeded girls small
Madeline Shellard (Irondequoit) – unseeded girls medium/large
Gabe Stash (Marcus Whitman) – unseeded boys small
Boys Unseeded Varsity (Smallest schools)
Team scores: 1. Trumansburg 135; 2. Oakfield-Alabama/Elba 166; 3. Clumer-Sherman-Panama 199.
Individual: 1. Henry Sullivan (Clymer-Sherman-Panama) 15:54.5; 2. Jacob Appleton (Lima Christian) 15:56; 7. Christian Valento (Pavilion) 16:35.2; 9. Nick Harrian (Campbell-Savona) 16:38.1; 11. Damien Sprague (Kendall) 16:49.6; Sam Atwater (Clyde-Savannah/Lyons) 16:52.1.
Boys Unseeded Varsity (Small school)
Individual: 1. Gabe Stash (Marcus Whitman) 15:50.1; 3. Evan McIlwain (Addison) 15:59; 5. Jeremiah Carnicelli (Mynderse) 16:15; 12. Joseph Thompson (Addison) 16:28.0; 17. Maxin McKenzie (LeRoy) 16:31.5.
Boys Seeded Varsity (Small Schools)
Team scores: 1. Watkins Glen 65; 2. Elk County Catholic-PA 91; 3. Montrose-PA 144.
Individual: 1. Kyle Fulk (Norwood-Norfolk Central) 15:01.7; 9. Josh Walsh (Hornell) 15:35.2; 43. Kevin Ebert (Wayland-Cohocton) 16:42; 45. Austin Miller (Hornell) 16:43.7; 47. Tyler Smith (Bath) 16:45.8; 54. Jordan Cash-Rawleig (Bath) 16:51.2.
Boys Unseeded Varsity (Medium schools)
Team scores: 1. Greece Arcadia 147 2. Newark 163; 2. Williamsville South 164; 3. Dundas Valley 177; 4. Chittenango 190; 5. Pittsford Sutherland 190.
Individual: 1. Andrew Alexander (Neil McNeil) 14:58.5; 3. Paul Suflita (Greece Arcadia) 15:34.1; 7. Justin Schramm (Greece Arcadia) 15:47.9; 10. Matt Laframboise (Greece Arcadia) 15:54.9; 11. Shane Pease (Greece Athena) 15:56.4; 12. Collin Regan (Pittsford Sutherland) 15:59.8.
Boys Seeded Varsity (Medium schools)
Team scores: 1. Burnt Hills/Ballston Lake 81; 2. Xavier-NYC 97; 3. Pittsford Mendon 176; 4. Brockport 178; 5. East Aurora 187; 6. Brighton 191.
Individual: 1. Ian Russ (East Aurora) 14:46.5; 2. Nathan Lawler (Pittsford Mendon) 14:51.1; 3. Paul Dellinger (Brighton) 15:02.7; 9. Jonah Simpson (Brighton) 15:22.7; 10. Nicholas Andrews (Brockport) 15:23.8; 17. Erik Lacourt (Brockport) 15:38.6.
Boys Unseeded Varsity (Large Schools)
Team scores: 1. Churchville-Chili 83; 2. Lakewood-OH 128; 3. St. Joe’s 133.
Individual: 1. Payton Gleason (Churchville-Chili) 15:17.7; 2. Ryan Thompson (Irondequoit) 15:27.8; 8. Peter Kostarellis (Churchville-Chili) 15:58.5; 10. Robert Thompson (Irondequoit) 16:09; 11. Cole Viavattene (Spencerport) 16:12.2.
Boys Seeded Varsity (Large Schools)
Team scores: 1. Corning 74; 2. Ithaca 117; 3. Niskayuna 124; 4. Liverpool 134; 5. Penfield 149.
Individual: 1. Noah Affolder (Carlisle) 14:12.7; 9. Tyler Senall (Penfield) 15:17.7; 22. Jacob Scheg (Hilton) 15:40.5; 23. Mike Speciale (Hilton) 15:41.5; 26. Joe Doerr (McQuaid) 15:43.8; 31. Aidan Blake (McQuaid) 15:52.9.
Girls Unseeded Varsity (Smallest Schools)
Individual: 1. Sydney Beach (Red Creek) 18:18.3; 3. Chloe Weaver (Red Creek) 18:28.3; 4. Eileen Reinhardt (Harley-Allendale Columbia) 18:53.6; 13. Emma Fiorini (Harley-Allendale Columbia) 19:28.7; 16. Hailey Kumpf (Cuba-Rushford) 20:06.2.
Girls Unseeded Varsity (Small Schools)
Team scores: 1. Harley Allendale-Columbia (adjusted score unknown); 2. Addison 132; 3. North East-PA 150.
1. Hannah Perkins (Montrose-PA) 18:20.5; 3. Veronica Dailey (Addison) 19:09.5; 4. Courtney Kacur (LeRoy) 19:13.5; 13. Megan Long (Addison) 19:29.9; 32. Annabelle Peresan (Attica) 20:24.5; 35. Isabella Painter (Addison) 20:26.7.
Girls Seeded Varsity (Small Schools)
Team scores: 1. Maple Grove 67; 2. Newfane 92; 3. Livonia 105; 4. Waterloo 121.
Individual: 1. Hayleigh Palotti (Livonia) 18:02.6; 8. Clarissa Hensler (Livonia) 18:46.8; 11. Kelsy Hastings (Letchworth) 18:56.8; 13. Chance Rice Porter (Waterloo) 19:06.2; 18. MacKenzie Ferlicca (Livonia) 19:21.7.
Girls Seeded Varsity (Medium Schools)
Team scores: Team scores: 1. East Aurora 58; 2. Villa Maria Academy 152; 3. Burnt Hills/Ballston Lake 116; 4. Nardin Academy 152; 5. Magnificat 181; 6. Canandaigua 182.
Individual: 1. Danielle Orie (Nardin Academy) 17:40.9; 6. Maddie Hobika (Pittsford Sutherland) 18:12.1; 10. Katie Cobos (Canandaigua) 18:23.3; 13. Meredith Morse (Pittsford Sutherland) 18:29.5; 17. Payton Reed (Honeoye Falls-Lima) 18:40.7; 18. Clancy Rheude (Canandaigua) 18:45.5.
Girls Unseeded Varsity (Medium/Large Schools)
Team scores: 1. Strongsville-OH 134; 2. Horseheads 220; 3. Hamburg 226; 4. Lakewood-OH 241; 5. Baldwinsville 307; 6. Brighton 321.
Individual: 1. Madeleine Shellard (Irondequoit) 17:28.1; 17. Shannon Oberst (Brighton) 19:18.0; 26. Grace Nolan (Greece Arcadia) 19:36.2; 32. Carolyn Bremer (Victor) 19:41.4; 37. Elena Davis (Irondequoit) 19:45.8.
Girls Seeded Varsity (Large Schools)
Team scores: 1. Corning 96; 2. Niskayuna 110; 3. Webster Thomas 132; 4. West Genesee 161; 5. Ithaca 161; 6. Rush-Henrietta 178.
Individual: 1. Jessica Lawson (Corning) 16:28.2; 2. Amanda Vestri (Webster Thomas) 17:03.1; 3. Anna Kostarellis (Churchville-Chili) 17:26.0; 7. Sammy Watson (Rush-Henrietta) 18:02.2; 9. Claire Ashton (Webster Thomas) 18:07.3; 10. Bailey Pierce (Rush-Henrietta) 18:08.9.
For full results please visit: http://www.mcquaidinvitational.com/results