Storm shine in final home meet

SARANAC LAKE – In their final home meet, runners on Saranac Lake’s cross country teams had memorable performances that led to three victories in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference action Tuesday.

Saranac Lake’s girls came up especially big, picking a rare win over Saranac Central and also defeating Northeastern Clinton. The Red Storm girls nearly made it a sweep after falling three points short in their matchup with Peru. The Red Storm girls edged the Chiefs 27-29, toppled the Cougars 20-40 and lost to the Indians 27-30.

Running in the final home meet of his varsity career, senior Max Paul finished 10th overall to help Saranac Lake’s boys to a 19-39 win over NCCS. The Red Storm boys came up just a point short against Peru, falling 23-24 to the Indians, and were defeated 19-43 by a strong Saranac Central squad.

“The girls team made it happen today,” Saranac Lake coach Joe Merrihew said. “From what was looking to be a longshot in the beginning of the season to try to defeat Saranac Central happened today. Our girls packed up, ran as a unit and were able to sneak away with a win over Saranac Central by only two points. The last time was about 10 years ago.”

Overall, six seniors were competing at home for the final time in Saranac Lake cross country uniforms. Joining Paul as seniors for the Red Storm boys were Will Lanthier, Nate Miller and Haakon Pedersen while Grace Sullivan and Caroline Dodd were seniors running for the Red Storm girls.

The Red Storm girls had four runners finish in the top 10, with Johanna Mohrs paving the way with a sixth-place finish. Saranac Central’s Elysha O’Connell won the girls race in 20 minutes, 50 seconds, and Samantha Smith of NCCS was runner-up just five seconds back. Maria Remillard, Megan Mazzella and Shauna Fliss grabbed the next three positions for Peru.

Mohrs sixth-place finish time was 21:39, and teammate Sophie Theron was seventh in 22:06. Sullivan was ninth in 22:24, and in what Merrihew described as a break-out meet, freshman Jackie Garso placed 10th for Saranac Lake in 22:46.

Also for Saranac Lake, Jacinda Riggs placed 15th in 23:38 and Caroline Dodd was 17th in 24:45.

Saranac’s boys placed three runners in the top four on their way to wins over the Red Storm and NCCS. Zach LePage paced the Chiefs, claiming first place overall in 17:17. Junior Zane Pelleteri kept his strong season going for Saranac Lake, finishing runner-up in 17:53. Paul was 10th in 20:04.

Three more runners finished in the top 25 for the Red Storm, as Adam Branch was 19th in 20:48, Miller placed 20th in 21:20 and Chris Murgia crossed the line in 25th place in 21:50.

Merrihew said his seniors have played an important role in keeping cross country running a strong tradition at Saranac Lake.

“I thought we would have a solid girls team this season, but it turned out better than I expected,” Merrihew said. “The only teams that have beaten us this year have been high-caliber teams that are up there in the state rankings.

“Our success on the boys side have been more on an individual basis, while the girls have been more successful as a team,” Merrihew continued. “Our seniors have spread the word. This year, the seniors have been my biggest recruiters.

Sullivan, Lanthier and Miller are among the seniors who have competed on the Red Storm cross country team for six years.

“This meet was kind of bittersweet,” Sullivan said. “I love running, and especially with this group of girls. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve always had fun. I’m never going to stop running.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Lanthier added. “I’m proud to be a part of this program. We still have a couple more weeks to go, and I’ll be sad when it ends.”

“I’ve had so much fun being on the cross country team at Saranac Lake,” Miller said. “The nice thing is that we are leaving the team in good hands. It’s been a great run.”