SOMERS, N.Y. – Clodagh McGroary had never won a race before with John Jay’s cross-country team.

What better place to start than the first race of the 2019 season?

McGroary, a senior, took top honors with junior teammate Kelsey Crawford finishing second in the Division 2 race at the Big Red Invitational at Somers High School on Saturday, Sept. 7.

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“It was absolutely incredible,” McGroary said. “I’ve never won a race before so I had no expectation to do that at all. It was just incredible to have everyone run with each other and finish that strong at the end. It’s looking good for the season. I ran this course last year and my goal was top five. We have such good competition in this race.”

John Jay scored 34 team points to place first in Division 2. The Indians defeated second place Brewster by 26 points.

McGroary, who said she ran over the summer while on vacation in Ireland, clocked a time of 19:57.1. Crawford crossed the finish line in 20:05.3.

“We’re going down the downhills and Kelsey’s just flying and I know from the training that we can stay together,” McGroary said when asked if having a teammate run alongside her motivates her to push harder. “Just having her there, and passing other girls, I know that we can stay together and that makes all the difference. When you’re hurting, you just need someone there to help you along.”

Senior Morgan Johnson was seventh in 20:30.7. Samantha Comstock (11th, 21:12.1), Sophie Guo (16th, 22:31.18), Violet Coyle (19th, 22:37.2) and Lily O’Shoughnessy (24th, 22:51.9) rounded out the top seven finishers and all placed in the top 25.

John Jay’s girls team won the Section 1 Class B team title last season but graduated some key runners like Lauren Pollak, Cameron Crawford and Pippa Nuttall.

“We lost so many strong seniors to graduation and we were very down about it at the beginning of the summer,” McGroary said. “But we always know that we can come back from it. The same thing happened two years ago. We lost amazing girls to graduation and we ended up winning states that year. It would be incredible to do that again but we’re definitely working toward sectionals and that’s the main goal to win sectionals.”

For the boys team, junior Thomas Dachik finished second in the Division 2 race in a clocking of 17:09.3. Dachik was neck and neck with Brewster’s Patrick Ford for most of the race, but Ford surged ahead down the stretch.

“I definitely didn’t expect to do what I did,” Dachik admitted. “I remember looking up at the clock, I was really confused as to what was going on. It was just a great race for me and all of my teammates as well.”

Senior Connor Jenkins was the second finisher for the Indians, taking 12th in 18:06.1. Max Goodman was a split second behind him in 13th (18:06.4).

The boys team placed third out of 12 squads.

“Our main goal this year is we’re trying to get to states for Division 2,” Dachik said. “We’re just trying to do the best we can as a team. We have a lot of great young runners and I feel like we can do a lot of great things together.”

John Jay’s Top Runners (Division 2)

2) Thomas Dachik—17:09.3 
12) Connor Jenkins—18:06.1 
13) Max Goodman—18:06.4 
50) Bryce Walsh—19:47.4 
52) Samuel Teich—19:50.3

1) Clodagh McGroary—19:57.1
2) Kelsey Crawford—20:05.3 
7) Morgan Johnson—20:30.7 
11) Samantha Comstock—21:12.1 
16) Sophie Guo—22:31.8