Sachem East Girls XC Best in Suffolk County

Sachem East Girls XC Best in Suffolk County photo
Just 10 days after Sachem East claimed the overall team title at the Section XI Divisional championships, the girls cross-country squad returned to Sunken Meadow with eyes set on winning the Suffolk County championship, a victory that would punch the team’s ticket to next week’s state championship meet.

Everyone knew it would be a difficult task to accomplish. Last week, Sachem East’s victory at the divisional meet was a narrow one, as each of the top five teams – Smithtown, Ward Melville, Commack and Bay Shore - were separated by a mere 25 points. With all five teams ranked in New York State’s top 25, and all five teams back for a shot at winning Suffolk County’s overall title, everyone expected a hotly contested race.

When the dust (and mud) settled on a wet and windy day at Sunken Meadow, Sachem East stood at the top of Suffolk County’s podium, beating out the best that the rest of Section XI was able to throw at them. Led by Junior Melissa Merone (third, 19:33) and senior Lindsey Dodenhoff (8th, 20:00), it was ultimately the strength of Sachem’s main pack that was the difference in team scoring. Senior Chiara Marziali (18th, 20:56), sophomore Sabrinna Mena (19th, 20:56) and sophomore Alexis Violi (42nd, 21:45) separated Sachem from the top pack of five teams, with senior Lexi MacAneney (58th, 22:30) and sophomore Anna Murphy (60th, 22:33) providing critical backup in the crucial sixth and seventh positions.

The victory is the second consecutive cross-country title for Sachem East and its fourth in the last five years. 

“Today was all about the team,” said senior Lindsey Dodenhoff. “We fought and struggled for each other and all of us – even those not racing in our top seven today have grown so much throughout the summer and fall.” 

This year’s victory was particularly sweet with Sachem returning only two out of the seven athletes that toed the line for last year’s county championship. It began the season as a relatively unknown group, but have certainly changed that perspective in the last two weeks of racing.

Up next, Sachem East will race at the New York State championship meet where it looks to take a top-five position in a field which includes two teams currently ranked nationally, Fayetteville-Manlius and Saratoga Springs, along with the current top runner in the nation, Katelyn Tuohy from North Rockland.

The state championship will be held this year at Sunken Meadow State Park Saturday, Nov. 10, with races starting at 9:00 a.m. and Sachem racing at 9:30 a.m.