Alfredo Mazzuca and Peter Sander won their respective Section 9 Cross Country Championship races Tuesday, heading a list of local runners who qualified for the upcoming state event.
New Paltz High School's Mazzuca won the boys Class B race, completing the 3.1-mile course at Bear Mountain State Park in 15 minutes, 46.12 seconds. Sander, a Dover Dragon, crossed the finish line first in the Class C event in 16:12.02.
Rhinebeck claimed the Class C boys title and will head to Saturday's state meet in Section 6's Elma, Erie County. It is the only local team -- boys or girls -- to qualify for that event. The Hawks' Zach Karas (third overall, 16:21.96), Colin Beasor (13th, 17:33.52), Tyler Dezago (14th, 17:46.56), Chris Cassano (22nd, 18:13.14) and Dante Penepent (30th, 18:56.50) finished with 78 points as a squad, edging second-place Dover (79 points).
"It was pretty courageous, because I have a bunch of kids sick with a variety of illnesses today, but they still pulled through," said Rhinebeck coach Jason Grady, whose Hawks had been hit particularly hard by bronchitis leading up to Tuesday's meet. "They won the title last year so they defended their title, which was very nice."
In addition to Rhinebeck's boys, the top five finishers in each class who didn't run for a winning team also qualified for the state meet. Including Mazzuca and Sander, a dozen local runners punched their tickets to Elma, though none came from Class A teams.
New Paltz teammate David Busby (15:48.15) will join Mazzuca at the state meet, taking the runner-up spot in the boys Class B race. Red Hook's Declan Dwyer-McNulty (15:56.34) took fourth in Class B to earn his berth in the state meet.
Sander will be joined in Elma by fellow Dover runner Matt Lee (16:33.18), who placed fifth overall in the boys Class C race. With his sixth-place finish in the same race, Spackenkill's Ryan Jelinek (16:41.40) also earned a trip north.
Webutuck's Jesse Capellaro (16:59.03) is the only local boy from Class D to earn a spot in the state meet after he finished sixth overall Tuesday.
On the girls side, New Paltz's Camila Ferguson (19:31.24) and Marlboro's Georgia Houghton (20:13.05) finished fifth and 10th overall, respectively, in the Class B race to earn berths in the state meet.
In Class C, Millbrook's Mary Kate Bida was the only local girl to qualify for states, placing third overall in 18:42.12.
"Her time was her best ever for any 3.1 mile-course," said Millbrook coach Trace Keller, referring to Bida's effort in the senior's final Section 9 race. "She averaged 6:14 per mile, which is fantastic. She looked very strong and looked like she could run another mile at the end of the race. (We) have high hopes for her at the state meet. (She) worked five years for this moment, and she's doing very well."
Webutuck teammates Denise Ibarra (20:56.72) and Kayla Khol (21:32.62) finished third and fourth in the Class D race , to advance to the state meet.
As his Rhinebeck boys continue to battle sickness, Grady said the Hawks' outlook for Saturday's state meet has changed in recent days, but the coach said he's confident his young runners will make the school proud in Elma.
"Prior to a couple weeks ago, before everyone got sick, we were ranked third in the state. We were thinking we were going up there to win. We were definitely in the mix," said Grady, unsure of how the illness will affect the Hawks' chances Saturday. "We're really decimated, so I don't even know what to say. I don't really know what I'm going to get out of these guys."