Cross country can be a grueling, and sometimes unforgiving, sport — requiring not just physical endurance but loads of mental toughness.
Fortunately for the Camden Blue Devils girls cross country squad, they have grit and determination in excess — and when combined with a tremendous work ethic — they now have a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C team title to show for their efforts.
Sophomore Lizzy Lucason crossed the finish line first on Saturday at the championship meet at SUNY Plattsburgh, finishing the three-mile course in 16:51.6, leading the Blue Devils to their first state cross country title in school history. The Section III Class C champions edged runner-up and defending state champion Greenwich of Section II by two points, 75-77.
Lizzy’s older sister, senior Morgan Lucason, was the second Camden finisher, crossing the line 22nd in a time of 18:15.4. Also for the Blue Devils, senior Haley Hinds was 26th in 18:24, sophomore Sydney Coleman was 49th in 19:10.6, senior Catherine Seidl was 57th in 19:21.8, freshman Ivy Murphy was 80th in 20:13 and sophomore Kiera Burke was 106th in 21:11.4. Sophomore Brittany Dineen was the alternate.
The Camden team is coached by Phil Lucason, the father of Lizzy and Morgan.
In a sport defined by years of hard work, the Blue Devils should be commended for not wavering in their pursuit of team excellence. The path to a championship is seldom easy, and the Blue Devils had their share of injuries and adversity along the way, along with some tough losses in recent years to some highly successful local rivals. But these events only served as motivation and fuel for this year’s run to a well deserved championship.
The Camden squad isn’t the only local school that can, and should, take great pride in their athletes performance at the state meet. The three South Lewis runners all placed in the top six in the Class C race: eighth-grader Brynn Bernard was second in 16:57.8, sophomore Lexi Bernard was fourth in 17:09.4, and junior Hannah Ielfield was sixth in 17:16.1 while Clinton sophomore Madison Luke placed ninth in 17:35.1.
On the boys side, Rome Free Academy senior Nicolas Ferretti raced to a ninth-place finish in the Class A race. Ferretti turned in a time of 14:54.5 in the first event of the day in frigid running conditions which saw race-time temperatures hovering around 10 degrees. RFA junior Nate Sletten also turned in a top-20 result for the Black Knights, placing 16th with a time of 15:04.
RFA sophomore Emily Toth-Ratazzi ran in the Class A girls race and finished 47th with a time of 18:10.8 in her first trip to the state meet.
In the Class C boys race, Adirondack senior Tyler Fauvelle placed fourth in 14:54.7.South Lewis eighth-grader Collin Stafford was 44th with a time of 16:10.8.
Oneida senior Nathaniel Jennings was 79th in the Class B boys race with a time of 16:30.5, while Michael Roberts of the unified Remsen-Old Forge team ran to a 19th-place finish in the Class D boys race with a time of 15:58.7.
The Class D girls race Oriskany sophomore Paris Welker was 23rd with a time of 18:59.7. From the unified Remsen-Old Forge squad, Jade Dening was 18th with a time of 18:38.8, and senior Emily Rudolph was 26th with a time of 19:10.8.
To all of these accomplished runners, congratulations and much continued success.