ELMA - Sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due.
The Fonda-Fultonville Braves ran a solid race at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association cross country championships, but Pawling was better.
The Braves finished in second place at the boys Class C state cross country meet to a Pawling team that has been knocking on the door the past two years. Pawling won the title with 42 points. Fonda-Fultonville finished with 66.
Fonda-Fultonville’s Matt Hoffman is about to cross the finish line before Solvay's Matt Cregan (343) and Bronxville’s John Flannery (140) during the boys Class C state cross country race at Elma Meadows Golf Course. (For The Leader-Herald/Erich Neuhaus)
"You can't neglect that Pawling did a good job," Fonda-Fultonville coach Mark Therrien said. "They came in ranked No. 1 and they put a good race together."
Pawling's pack of runners was just a tad tighter than the Braves', with its five best runners finishing in the top 20 among team runners while the Braves' five runners finished in the top 23.
"I gathered up our boys a little while ago and told them, 'I know you're disappointed, but sometimes you got to be man enough to admit the fact that someone was actually better than you today," Therrien said.
Only four runners out of 130 in the boys Class C race were better than Fonda-Fultonville's Matt Hoffman. The senior completed his brilliant high school cross-country career with a fifth-place finish and a time of 16:22.5.
An overnight rain and the five races before the boys Class C race on the Elma Meadows Golf Course didn't help Hoffman's chance to win an individual state title, which he had intentions of doing, but four straight trips to states, a top-5 finish and a state title in 2010 makes a career almost any runner who competed Saturday would gladly take.
"The course was just not what I expected," Hoffman said. "When you're walking it, it just seems like the first mile was going to be easier, but it loaded you right up. I think all the guys were feeling it, because they kept going after the first mile and I was able to reel them back in that pack of three or so."
Senior Tyler Angioli finished 27th overall and eighth among scoring teams with a time of 16:57.8, and fellow senior Jimmy Westman (17:18.8) finished 44th overall and 11th among scoring teams.
Rounding out the scoring runners for Fonda-Fultonville were sophomore Dylan Desorbo (17:41.7) and junior Cameron Gilligan (17:43.0). Junior Dalton Hunter (18:33.7) and Omijah Piening (18:38.7) finished 47th and 48th, respectively, among the team runners.
Also in the boys Class C race, Broadalbin-Perth's Greg Bogdan finished 34th with a time of 17:07.3.
After last year's meet at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, Mayfield's Tom McClellan said he wanted a top 10 finish in Elma.
He finished sixth, earning all-state honors.
The senior ran the 5K in 16:37.3, giving it all he had down the final stretch to pass a few runners despite suffering from cramps.
"It was a good race," McClellan said. "I can't complain. Last year I finished 22nd and this year I broke the top 10. I'm happy with it at the end I wanted it so I pushed hard."
McClellan said he hopes to race in the federation race and to run at Iona College next year.
Gloversville's John Knox finished 21st (16:24.9) in the Class B race, just missing out on all-state honors, as Section II's Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons won the race.
In the Class C girls race, Fonda-Fultonville's Jamie Kasza is proving to be a force to be reckoned with at future state meets. After finishing 19th as an eighth-grader a year ago, Kasza took ninth place this year with a time of 19:28.2. This is the second straight time Kasza has earned all-state honors.
"I was happy I got ninth because my goal was to at least get into the top10," she said. "I wanted to get top 5, but nine is good. I'll have bigger goals next year."
Kasza's teammate, Kim Geniti, who is a fixture at states, making her third appearance, took 41st with a time of 20:32.6.
Geniti, a junior, finished 16th a year ago, but Therrien doesn't think she's passing the torch to the freshman just yet.
"I think she's accepted this year that Jamie has put a lot of work into it and she can respect what Jamie has done and is supportive of Jamie being on top," Therrien said. "But I think that Kim, in the back of her mind, knows now that she has to step up. But she has another year to come back and be capable of getting side-by-side with Jamie or get ahead of Jamie."
Lidija Nikollaj raced in her third and last state meet for Mayfield. The senior finished 57th in the girls Class D race with a time of 22:01.8.
Greenwich's Madaline Montague won the race with a time of 18:24.5 and teammate Tori Spiezio finished second. Spiezio's brother, Jeremy, also from Greenwhich, finished second in the boys Class D race.
Overall it was a fine day for Section II. Along with Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, Saratoga Springs boys' team won a Class A team title and Holy Names won the girls Class B race.