SOMERS, N.Y. – It didn’t have that big race feel like the Big Red Invitational or a Section 1 championship meet when Somers and visiting Yorktown got together for a dual meet to open the cross-country season on Oct. 14.

But just being able to compete again meant the world to the Tuskers. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there was plenty of uncertainty on the prospects of a season.

“It’s been something we’ve been waiting for since school shut down in March,” said Somers boys coach Mike Lacko. “I’m just very grateful and all the kids are very grateful for this opportunity today. All week, I kind of treated it as like a state championship. I said to them, ‘Listen, this could be taken away tomorrow. Treat this meet like it’s our last meet.’”

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The Somers boys and girls both handily won their respective races on their senior day.

“It means the world to be out here,” said Somers senior Nico DeMarinis. “We really didn’t know what was going to happen this season. We can’t have multiple teams out here; only dual meets as of right now. We just get through it, breathe through the mask and try to get as good of a time as you can.”

It was a photo finish in the boys race. Colin Brooks (17:45), a junior who qualified for states last season, raced neck and neck with DeMarinis (17:45.01) down the stretch and just edged him out for first.

“Colin just ran so well and I’m so happy to have the boys out here today,” DeMarinis said. “Thank God we have this season. I don’t know what I would have done without cross country. It’s the best feeling in the world to come across the line, especially with a teammate. It’s a great first run for the boys. It’s just awesome.”

Lacko wasn’t surprised how close the race was.

“They train together, and Nico and Colin ran all summer long,” Lacko said. “I think both boys did almost 500 miles. All their dedication just showed today. They just worked their butts off all summer.”

Joe Torre (fifth, 18:28.5), Connor Philips (sixth, 19:02.4), Aiden Meza (seventh, 19:17.2) and Connor Fucci (eighth, 19:59.8) finished in the top 10 for the Tusker boys.

The girls team was sparked by Gabby Parisi, who built a large lead and maintained it throughout the race to place first in 23:03.2.

“Gabby emerged as our top runner last year,” Somers girls coach John Vegliante said. “I expect her to lead the charge again this season.”

Jessica Masterson was second (26:25.1) for the Tusker girls. Emma Murphy, Jordan Han, Chelsea Lewitt, Mia Parisi and Ciara Murphy finished third through seventh, respectively.

“A short time ago I wasn’t sure if we would even have a season,” Vegliante said. “To go from that uncertainty to hosting a meet with Yorktown and honoring our seniors was awesome. I couldn’t be happier with how it went. I thought all our girls did a great job and I’m excited they get this chance to be together and work as a team each day.

“There’s something special about lining up with all your teammates and competing toward a common goal and I could tell how much it meant to our girls,” she added.

One of the main goals for the Tuskers is a league championship and they started on the right note against Yorktown. Currently, there isn’t a Section 1 championship meet scheduled this season, but the Tuskers are hoping that changes.

“We want to go 6-0 in the league and if we have a sectionals, to win the Class B sectional title,” Lacko said of the team’s goals. “Last year, we were runners up to Pearl River and we bring back everybody. So, if there is a sectionals, that’s the goal.”