WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y.— Matt Fusco was in the lead from the start and cruised to first-place in the Section 1 Class B race to qualify for states at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.
“It definitely meant a lot to take first at sectionals, especially after finishing second last year,” Fusco said.
The senior clocked a time of 16:31.03 to make the state team for the third straight year. He beat out Nanuet’s Ryan Guerci by just short of 10 seconds.
“This meant so much to myself and Matt for him to win a Section 1 Class B individual championships,” Somers boys coach Mike Lacko said. “It was the first time since Alex Bean that a Somers runner won a Class B race. It was his goal all season to win a league, Westchester County and Class B individual championship which in our area is a huge accomplishment for an athlete.”
Fusco also had the overall top time between classes A, B, C and D, with Guerci also second. The Class A race winner, North Rockland’s Patrick Tuohy, finished in 16:48.56.
“The key to success at sectionals was running the downhills hard,” Fusco said. “Most of the second half of the race is downhill, so it’s important to gain as much distance on the other guys as possible.”
Matt’s twin brother Greg also made the state team for the third time with a 16:52.47 to take fourth on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Matt said, “It’s awesome to be heading back to states with my brother and to have the opportunity to run another fast time.”
For the girls, senior Anjali Kapur qualified for states for the first time in her cross-country career, placing fourth in a clocking of 19:41.26.
“It means a lot to make states after working hard all summer for this cross-country season,” Kapur said. “It’s great to see my four years of training finally pay off.
The senior said that the key to her success was “using other runners to pace.”
“My coach (John Vegliante) told me I could stay with the top girls so I trusted that and ran with them,” Kapur said.
Kapur is the first Somers girl to qualify for states since 2010.
“Qualifying for the state meet has been on her mind all season and it’s something she has worked toward not only this year but all four years of high school,” Vegliante said. “She has put so much time and effort into running and to see that pay off with a trip to states and for her to run as fast as she did is unbelievable. She ran the race of her life Saturday when it mattered most and I couldn’t be happier for her. It’s the perfect way to end her cross-country career here at Somers.”
Elisabeth Van Tassell, who returned to cross-country this season, placed 12th in 20:26.09 on the 5,000-meter course.
The Tusker girls, who finished fourth as a team, also had a strong showing from Lucy Cliff (30th, 21:36.87). Alexandra Marr (51st), Ariel Markowski (57th), Riley Comparetto (59th), Keelyn Foley (62nd), Mercedesz Stumpf (67th), Emma Jones (74th) and Ella Lansky (78th) rounded out the field for Somers.
“Our team had a great day,” Vegliante said. “We ran well here at Bowdoin Park three weeks ago for our league championship meet and the girls were able to come back and run even better Saturday at sectionals. We dropped our team average time down over 30 seconds with each girl running a season best at Bowdoin. We finished ahead of a few teams that had beaten us earlier in the year. It was a great way to the end the season.”
Somers’ boys team, which won the team title last year, finished sixth. Matt Reimann was 31st in 18:05.41. Chris Hannon (62nd), Thomas Parisi (64th), Jack Torre (69th), Peter MacNeil (73rd), Luke Phalen (103rd), Matt Tetro (104th) and Eric Larson (112th) also ran for the Tuskers.
The Fusco brothers and Kapur will compete at Wayne High School near Rochester on Saturday, Nov. 11. Both Fusco brothers have a goal of finishing in the top 10 or even better.
“They really have a chance to do something special this weekend,” Lacko said. “I️ can really see them moving into the top five of the race and battling to win an individual state title.