By Scott Kindberg
ELLERY - Doc Rappole spent part of Tuesday getting the 3.1-mile cross country course at Long Point State Park ready for the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association championships.
''We have had the most beautiful fall, my gosh,'' the Maple Grove coach said Wednesday night. ''We haven't had any ugly (weather) meets all year.''
That could change by Friday afternoon.
Forecasts call for rain turning to snow with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees when the boys toe the start line at 3:30 p.m. The girls race will follow at 4 p.m., and the modified girls and modified boys races will conclude the day at 4:30 p.m. and 4:50 p.m., respectively.
Despite the elements, Rappole is confident the layout will hold up just fine.
''The beauty of this course is Long Point is all gravel and there's really no place that just turns to mud,'' he said. ''There will be a greasy area of about 100 yards just before you come into the last half-mile as they go out around the point. The rest of it, even if there is a little water on it, it's only water. Underneath, it's firm.''
The individual favorites are both from Maple Grove - senior Corey Wefing and sophomore Hope Pietrocarlo - and the girls team championship will likely go to the unbeaten Lady Red Dragons, as well. But it's the battle for the boys team title that should provide the most excitement.
''There really is unbelievable parity in the boys,'' Rappole said. ''Corey is Corey and he's obviously out front by a lot. ... Then it looks to be anybody's race.''
In other words, the team champ could conceivably come from any of the top seven teams in the regular-season standings. They are, in order, Southwestern (11-1); Dunkirk (10-2); Sherman (9-3); Maple Grove (9-3); Silver Creek (8-4); Fredonia (8-4); and Gowanda (8-4).
See CROSS COUNTRY, Page C3
From Page C1
''On any given day, that's what's been such fun,'' Rappole said. ''Every time it's the team that puts it out there that wins the meet. ... It's kind of the year of parity, I guess. Really, it's made every meet fun and exciting.
''Owen Barber (Allegany-Limestone), Ryan Hetrick (Southwestern), Jordan Powers (Southwestern), Javier Soto (Dunkirk), Josh and Dan O'Dell (Sherman-Clymer-Panama) and Matt Kruszka (Gowanda), they're all in it for second. There's not a whole lot of difference.''
Wefing, though, is in a class by himself.
The defending CCAA champion has had a fabulous fall, winning the Queensbury Invitational Varsity Division 1 race in 16:01.76, which was nearly 30 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. He also won the boys unseeded varsity A-2 race at the McQuaid Invitational and set the Maple Grove course record of 16:17, surpassing the previous mark held by Jesse Rappole (16:22).
Meanwhile, the Maple Grove girls, who finished in first place during the CCAA regular season, are ranked No. 2 in the state and are led by Pietrocarlo.
''Hope is really the best runner out there,'' Rappole said.
There are other fine runners, too, including senior Holly Eliason of Sherman-Clymer-Panama, seniors Caroline Benson and Taylor Norris of Maple Grove, senior Michaela Tramuta of Fredonia, junior Colleen Steward of Gowanda and freshman Emma Seiders of Silver Creek.
''Holly, Caroline, Taylor, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of the Seiders girls from Silver Creek sneaks in there,'' Rappole said. ''There are a lot of girls who are within seconds of each other once you get down to 4-5-6-7. It's pretty even.''
Maple Grove finished 12-0 in the regular-season CCAA girls standings. Rounding out the top seven finishers were Gowanda (11-1); Sherman-Clymer-Panama (9-3); Fredonia (9-3); Silver Creek (9-3); Jamestown (7-5); and Allegany-Limestone (6-6).
After this week's CCAA championships, Long Point will play host to the Section 6 championships on Nov. 1.