Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in the Nov. 16, 1995 edition of The Suffolk Times, one week after Janelle Kraus won a state cross country championship.
A little patience and some physical therapy were the key ingredients as Shelter Island senior Janelle Kraus overcame a hip injury and won the New York State Cross Country Championships Class C race Saturday at Corning Community College.
Kraus didn’t allow a slight muscle tear in her hip keep her from winning the race in 19 minutes, 42.7 seconds. She finished the hilly, muddy 3.1 mile course 1.9 seconds faster than second place Karen Scozzafava of Nazareth, who she held off in a close finish down the stretch.
“Those two were battling it out the whole way,” said Cliff Clark, who coaches Kraus on the Shelter Island/Southold/Greenport team. “It was Janelle’s day.”
Kraus had torn the muscle while climbing a rope in gym class on November 6. That’s when Southampton physical therapist Mark Mensch came to the rescue. His treatment program had Kraus ready to go Saturday, and she said she felt no pain during the race.
While other runners bolted in front soon after the start, Kraus stayed back and ran her own pace in the first mile, which she completed in 6:05.”If you go out hard in the first mile or so it’s really going to take a toll on you in the end,” she said.
After the first mile, the runners ran into the woods and were out of view until the two-mile mark when Scozzafava emerged two steps ahead of Kraus. The two ran shoulder to shoulder until there was about a half-mile to go. That’s when Scozzafava made what may have been a critical error. She kicked out to a 10-yard lead but couldn’t keep up the faster pace. Kraus caught her at the top of the final hill before running downhill, through the mud, straight into a stiff wind and across the finish line, some 10 yards ahead of Scozzafava.
IT’S SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR
Kraus, who ran on this course earlier this season in the Bear Mountain Invitational, noted that the sight of the finish line can be enticing from a difference. “You see the finish line,” she said. “It’s so deceiving because you think you’re almost there. You have to have patience. If you make your move too early, you’re dead.”
Kraus, who in her first three appearances in the state meet finished 36th, 9th and 3rd, timed it right, though. In doing so, she accomplished one of her three goals for the season. tTwo weeks earlier, she obliterated the Indian Island course record of 19:25.8 that was set by Shoreham-Wading River’s Nicole Aluscewicz in 1988. The new mark set by Kraus for the Riverhead course is 18:43.9.
Now Kraus is set to pursue her third goal, qualifying for the National Championships that will be held next month in San Diego. To do that, she has to be among the top eight finishers in the Foot Locker Northeast Championships Nov. 25 at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Kraus placed 27th in the event last year.
Kraus wasn’t the only Shelter Island runner to do well in the state meet. Teammate Alexis Hamblet, a sophomore in her first cross country season, took 12th place in 20:35.5. It was the second best performance ever in a state meet by a Shelter Island runner.
“She’s right about where Janelle was when she was a sophomore,” Clark said.
Meanwhile, Shelter Island senior Ian Thomson was 20th in the Class C boys race with a time of 17:45.6. He placed 68th last year.