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Valley Sports Report
BINGHAMTON — Waverly senior Sheridan Talada punched a return ticket to States, and her teammate and fellow senior Elizabeth Fritzen earned a bit of redemption and also qualified for the New York State Cross Country Championships here Tuesday afternoon with their performances at the Section IV, Class C meet.

Senior Paige Ackley and sophomore Olivia Nittinger also turned in top-20 performances for the Lady Wolverines.

Talada finished third in a time of 20:14.6, ad Fritzen was fifth in 20:46.3 to lead the Lady Wolverines to a third-place finish in the team standings. Lansing won the Class C team title with 40 placement points, while Trumansburg was second with 82, Waverly had 88, and Chenango Valley was fourth with 91 points.

Talada is excited for another opportunity to compete at States.

"It feels really great,” she said. “I definitely wanted to get back this year after last year and try to improve.

"Top 20 is my goal, because the top 20 medal at states,” added Talada.

Fritzen is looking forward to her first trip to States.

"It just feels amazing,” she said. “I wanted to go so bad last year, but I didn't finish the season how I wanted to, so this season is definitely my redemption.

"I'm definitely happy to be (going to states), but I want to lock on with my teammate, Sheridan, and just push together.

“It would be a dream to get a medal,” added Fritzen.

Talada and Fritzen will have company at the state meet as their teammate, junior Collin Wright, qualified for the second straight year on the boys side.

“I’m very proud of them,” said Waverly coach Nate Culver.

“Those three kids have all put in the work,” he noted. “We started up summer training July 1 — Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and they were at every one. They even went out during the week without me.

“They put in the time, and it paid off for them,” added Culver.

Talada believes she is a stronger runner this year.

"I definitely feel like I am stronger,” she said. “I ran a lot over the summer, so it's nice to have it pay off a little bit."

Fritzen said she switched up her training over the summer.

"This year, during the off-season, I did a lot of biking and cross-training, instead of running every single day and I really felt like that helped my body get ready for running cross country."

Culver said confidence has been the key for Talada.

“Sheridan (Talada) is a completely different runner, even from last year. She finally understands where she belongs.

“She has that fire in her now,” said Culver.

Fritzen just needed to stay on track, noted Culver.

“This was Liz’s last opportunity,” he said. “Year after year, things would break down for her at the end of the season, but this year she held strong.

“She has breathing issues, and it seems like there’s been bad karma at the end of every season,” noted Culver. “She puts in all the work, then something gets ahold of her, and it just breaks down on her, but this year she stayed strong and finally everyone got to see the real Liz.

“This is exactly what she’s been capable of for years, not just this year,” added Culver.

The temperature was in the high 30s for the races, and there was a light rain falling, but Culver said it had little impact on his team.

“As the day got longer, it got colder and colder. It was raining lightly and cold, but the weather was the last thing on their minds. They were way too focused to let weather get in the way.

“Weather effects everyone in the race, you just have to adapt and overcome,” said Culver.

Ackley placed 13th in a time of 22:55, while Nittinger was 18th in 23:26. Sophomore Aubrey Akins finished 51st in 27:59, and senior Kaleigh Akins was 56th in 32:46.

“Paige and Olivia both did a great job today,” said Culver.

Lansing won the Class C gold with 40 placement points, well ahead of runner-up Trumansburg, which had 82 points. Waverly was third with 88 points, while Chenango Valley was fourth with 91, and Dryden was fifth with 143 points.

“Finishing third place is impressive, considering all the injuries we’ve had this season,” said Culver.

The New York State Cross Championships are Nov. 16 at Sunken Meadow State Park in Prattsburg.


IN PHOTO 1: Waverly’s Sheridan Talada (left) and Elizabeth Fritzen. … PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHELA BUBNIAK.

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