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Penfield's Katie Lembo wins at McQuaid Invitational

1:00 AM, Sep. 28, 2012 EDT

HF-L's Riley Douglas, left, and Martha Mevorach at the McQuaid Invitational. / KRIS J. MURANTE / Staff photographer

When someone is in a hurry to win a cross country race, that can be a fast way for them to lose that victory they want.

There was proof Saturday that Penfield junior Katie Lembo at least understands this thought.

Lembo was able to wait before she made her strongest move to win the girls seeded AAA division race in 16 minutes, 46 seconds at Genesee Valley Park at one of the nation's largest meets.

A runner-up last year in this race, Lembo became the first runner from Section V to win this division for the largest schools since Hilton's Amanda Briggs seven years ago.

"This year I just wanted it," Lembo said as she grinned. "I knew I could win if I just tried.

"It worked out for me."

Lembo's time was the fastest run by a girl from a Section V school, which made her recipient of the Katie Harper Memorial Plaque for the second consecutive year.

A check of the entries, plus ideal course and weather conditions, indicated a fast-paced race was ahead.

Lembo, 55 seconds faster than last year, finished ahead of two-time defending division champion Laura Leff. A junior at West Genesee (Section III), Leff was third at the last season's Foot Locker nationals.

Leff, who had to deal with a foot injury last winter and spring, shot out to an early lead but finished seventh.

Arlington (Section I) sophomore Bella Burda was the runner-up. Irondequoit senior Georgia Tuttle (third), Canandaigua junior Kennedy Jensen (fourth), Rush-Henrietta sophomore Siobhan Quinn (sixth), Webster Thomas senior Eileen O'Hara (ninth) and Rush-Henrietta sophomore Alex Cooper (10th) all were in the top 10.

"We are such a strong area," Jensen said. "It's awesome."

You will find a number of those names on past and future all-state team lists.

"I'm still sort of in shock," Lembo said yards from the finish line. "It's huge for me. My goal was to win the race.

"I didn't know that it would be in under 17 minutes, but that made it better."

Lembo stuck to her pace after Leff went out. Burda, then Lembo passed Leff just before a mile into the race.

"She's learning -- and we've had some battles with this -- patience," Penfield coach David Hennessey said. "It used to be that she would try to take the lead right at the beginning.

"She told me that she didn't try to break (from Burda) until the last half-mile. That is an entirely different Katie."

It was entirely Section V at the top of the team standings.

Rush-Henrietta score of 96 points beat out runner-up Penfield (108) and Canandaigua (117) in a 1-2-3 finish of area schools. The Section V Class A Championships promise to be very competitive.

"This is so fantastic," Rush-Henrietta captain Alana MacDonald said. "We've worked so hard and everything just came together for the team.

"It's one of the biggest races of the year, plus beating some of the top teams in our section, it's a good set up for sectionals. We are very excited."

Rush-Henrietta sophomore Alex Cooper said the Royal Comets get stronger every week.

"(Coach Mike DeMay) has been thrilled with us all and he keeps raising his expectations," MacDonald said. "I think we can meet it, wherever he set the bar."

The bar also is high for the Rush-Henrietta boys team, which placed third behind Arlington, the No. 1 ranked Class A squad in the state, and Strake Jesuit, a power in Texas.

Webster Thomas, ranked second to Rush-Henrietta in local polls, was seventh.

Mickey Burke was Rush-Henrietta's top runner and Section V's fastest male with a run of 14:56.

The Charlie McMullen Memorial award winner finished fifth in the seeded AAA race, along with teammate Brennan Root (sixth), Hilton junior Tyler Ranke (seventh) and Irondequoit junior Josh Dyrland (eighth).




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