The South Side girls’ cross country dynasty keeps rolling on – winners of the Nassau County Class II championship on Oct. 28 at Bethpage State Park and finishing No. 1 in the state qualifier on Nov. 4 on the same course.
South Side represented Nassau County at the state meet’s team event last weekend in upstate Verona and finished 6th overall.
Coach Chris Webster is in his 25th season as head coach. His stint is aging like fine North Fork wine after it logged a 55-point win total at the counties, then topped vaunted North Shore to win the state qualifier to rep Nassau.
The Oct. 28 performance marked its fourth straight county championship after a 13-0 regular season and Conference 3 title. The regular-season record across the four seasons is 52-0. The Cyclones have also won the state-qualifying team portion three straight years..
“Success breeds success,’’ Webster said. “Rockville Centre is dominant in other sports but we have an off-the-radar culture where a lot of runners want to be part of a successful program.’’
South Side had six runners earn All-County honors for a top 25 finish, led by Claire Bohan, who placed third. Maeve Nawrocki was 10th, Lana Jewett 12th, Fayola Allison 13th, Emma Sitterly 17th, and Morgan McKenna 19th.
“Every team has two fast runners,’’ Webster said. “But what you need is a good 3, 4, 5, 6. They are the ones who win us the county and states.’’
Still, it is Bohan whom Webster gushed about most. Bohan is a senior who plans to run in college. “She’s very modest and quiet off the course, but on the course, she has a beautiful stride, like running on air,’’ Webster said. “It doesn’t look like she’s ever in pain, I love watching her run.’’
Bohan admits she’s blessed with a gift. “Naturally I have a larger stride,’’ Bohan said. “It benefits me in distance races. It’s noticeable to viewers.’’
In the state qualifier, in her last race ever on Bethpage grass, Bohan set a personal best by 15 seconds at 19:27.
A combination of things led Bohan to greatness that day.
“I think the weather had a lot to do with it,’’ Bohan said of the 55-degree temperature. “It was partly hot and not desirable conditions (at counties) but the following week at the state qualifier it was cooler. It helps you feel better when you run.
“It was also our last race at Bethpage. That was a little sad but you wanted to push yourself on the last time you run it. I think everyone did.’’
At counties, the biggest surprise was Nawrocki, who joined the team this season as a rookie. “She was a new girl who didn’t run’’ Webster said. “She’s a natural runner. I didn’t expect her on the team so it was an added bonus.’’
As for Jewett, she’s a model of consistency. “A real fighter,’’ Webster said. “She goes out there and runs like she’s in a battle. Very competitive.’’
McKenna is finishing up her cross country career while Allison’s just starting to rise. She’s just a sophomore in her second year on the team. So is Nawrocki.
“They have lot of potential,’’ Bohan said. “It’s pretty incredible (Nawracki’s) times.
(Allison) is in her second year on the team and improved a lot.’’
The Southside harriers look solid for the future. “As a team, we’re very close and train together (outside school),’’ Bohan said. “It helps motivate the younger girls and we better each other.’’