Eastport South Manor girls cross country head coach Brian Methven and runner Taylor McClay came to a joint conclusion after last year’s state meet: Even though she had been invited, she wouldn’t compete in the New York State Cross Country Federation Championships. She simply wasn’t ready for it.
McClay was certainly ready this season.
At Bowdoin County Park in Wappingers Falls, the sophomore finished in a very respectable 19:27.9, which placed her 48th out of 253 of the state’s best runners: The race includes runners from public, private, Catholic and New York City schools. McClay finished third among Suffolk County runners and fifth among Long Island runners.
Shoreham/Wading River freshman Katherine Lee finished fifth overall, in 18:31.6, the best showing of the region’s athletes.
“Last year, I don’t know if I was really prepared for it,” McClay said about the race. “I think it was better that I did it this year. I thought it was a really good experience for me. It’s the largest race I’ve been in, and it was a good experience to race with that many girls.”
McClay set herself a goal of placing in the top 50, which she accomplished. After the race, she suggested that she could have placed in the top 40. “My time wasn’t that good because of all the hills, but I was happy with my placement,” she added.
Methven said the course at Bowdoin Park is challenging, with a number of rolling hills. McClay said toward the end of the first mile, she was able to pick up a lot of speed going downhill, and it was at that point where she was able to pass a lot of girls.
McClay, who also runs winter and spring track, where she specializes in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races, is hoping to return to the federations race. “I think it’ll benefit me in the future, because I really learned how to get out in a big race,” she explained. “Throughout the course, you have a lot of girls around you at the same time, so I think I learned how to race with that many girls.
“I’m glad I got the opportunity,” McClay added. “I definitely want to go next year and the year after. I hope that our team will be able to go eventually.”