Valley Sports Report
BINGHAMTON — Waverly junior Collin Wright is headed back to States after finishing third here Tuesday at the Section IV, Class C Cross Country Championships at Chenango Valley State Park.
"I love the state meet competition and I'm really happy with where I'm at,” said Wright. “I’m feeling good at this point in the season and I'm excited for next week."
Wright will have company at States as seniors Sheridan Talada and Elizabeth Fritzen qualified for States in the girls race.
“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.
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.
Wright clocked in at 17:19 on the 5K course, well off the pace of gold medalist Gabe Planty of Watkins Glen, who crossed the finish line in 16:50.3. Newark Valley sophomore Jonny Sherwood was second in 16:59.8, while Dryden’s Spencer Strickland was fourth in 17:40.8, Oneonta’s Korbin Jones was fifth in 17:41.6, and SVEC junior Calum Avery nabbed the final State spot with a sixth-place finish in 17:45.2.
Culver said Tuesday’s performance was a continuation of Wright’s performance this season.
“Collin got his confidence early, and has been a lead-pack runner,” he said. “He’s had a very consistent, and very good season.”
Wright has enjoyed a friendly rivalry all season with Planty, Sherwood, and Avery. The foursome has run in nearly every invitational the Wolverines attended this season.
Culver said the competition throughout the season definitely benefitted Wright, and the others as well.
“The character those kids have,” said Culver. “They are as thick as thieves, like a little ‘Rat Pack.’
“I don’t even know if they consider themselves rivals,” he noted. “They are very tight … sure enough during a race they’re going to try to beat each other, but I think they really try to work with each other.
“I’m really glad they have each other, because they push each other, and they hunt each other down during the races,” added Culver. “I’m just glad they’re all at the same place, at the same time.”
Watkins Glen claimed the team title with 69 points, while runner-up Newark Valley tallied 74 points, and Waverly finished third with 89. Trumansburg was fourth with 110 points, and Lansing was fifth with 145 points.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet day, though,” said Culver. “My boys gave it their all, but they had some good competition with Watkins Glen and Newark Valley.”
Sophomore Nate Ackley finished ninth for the Wolverines in a time of 17:50.2, while junior Jayden Rose was 25th in 18:46.1, sophomore Liam Traub was 27th in 18:53.7, senior Brandon Bubniak was 31st in 19:10.0, and sophomore Kaden Wheeler was 40th in 19:31.5.
The New York State Cross Championships are Nov. 16 at Sunken Meadow State Park in Plattsburgh.
IN PHOTO 1: Waverly’s Collin Wright and Watkins Glen’s Gabe Planty. … PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHELA BUBNIAK.