The St. Francis Cross Country team won its first All-Catholic Championship Since 1977 Sunday morning, October 5th at Knox Farms. The 40-year drought ended on cool soggy day, in some of the toughest conditions imaginable. After splitting the league title with St. Joes and Canisius, there would only be one winner at the All Catholic race, and the Red Raiders bested Canisius and Joes with a score of 40-54-56, with the rest of the field trailing behind in the triple digits. It was a decisive win, on a day when nothing was certain. Ankle deep water, foot devouring mud, and slippery trails slowed the race down a bit, but St. Francis remained focused and ran their best race of the season. Seniors Jake Lanning (3), Andrew Michalski (4), and Sam Attea (7) took home first team All Catholic honors. Newcomers Mike Spencer and Sean O’Meara showed the meaning of the word determination as they willed themselves ahead of the competition to finish the scoring. Jonathan Smith and Tim Maciejewski held down the final two spots and all seven of them will represent the league at the NY State Federation Championships at Bowdoin Park on November 18. This is the most focused, coachable, and determined group a coach could ask for. They overcame a lot of adversity, but when one guy went down, another stepped up. In the end it was truly a group effort.
The JV team also had a nice day, while overmatched somewhat by St. Joes, they held a nice pack together, and ran tough as a team. Led by Junior Pat Henshaw; Matt Duggan, Owen Roberts, Mark Stuzman and John Emmerling scored for Frannies. Henshaw, Duggan and Roberts are all candidates for most improved runners this year. Emmerling and Stutzman are seniors, with no running background, coming out for the first time. Special thanks to them.
St. Francis fielded the largest freshman squad in years with 7 runners. Matt Villardo came in 3rd overall, followed by Reilly Carney who was 9th. Liam Donovan, Andrew Sovinski, and Caleb Edbauer all scored with Ryan Baker less than a second behind in the 6th spot. Peter Sovinski rounded out the squad, and is already looking forward to next year.
It was obviously a huge day for the St. Francis program, and there are too many people to thank. One thing coaches Kiefer and Hoak want to acknowledge, in addition to the parents and administration, are the runners and parents who have come before this year. This was a multi-year process, and unfortunately, careers have a four-year shelf life. There are a lot of kids and parents who worked very hard in years past to help make this championship a reality and we want to thank and acknowledge them for also being a part of this. They know who they are and we are grateful.