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Girls Cross Country: Tuckers grab fourth straight D-IV crown

They call it Cardiac Hill for a reason.

Sunken Meadow State Park’s Cardiac Hill is a challenge for all high school cross-country runners, including Payton Maddaloni. The Mattituck High School junior has had her troubles with the infamous hill.

“I was just not moving well up it,” she said. “I was destroying my time because of it.”

For whatever reason, Maddaloni had better luck with Cardiac Hill on Tuesday — as did her eighth-grade teammate, Ava Vaccarella. Together, they led Mattituck to its fourth straight Section XI Division IV championship.

Vaccarella was the top Division IV finisher and 17th overall in the girls championship race on the 3.1-mile course in 20 minutes and 22.66 seconds. Maddaloni was 35th overall in 21:14.72.

“I was moving a lot faster up Cardiac and especially at the end I felt great and I kept on running and running and I felt like I could pass everybody because I just felt so good, mentally and physically,” said Maddaloni, who has been on the team since she was an eighth-grader.

As for the rest of the Tuckers in the race, sophomore Bella Masotti was 59th overall in 22:07.32, sophomore Kylie Conroy was 65th in 22:24.37, freshman Kate Schuch was 70th in 22:31.69, sophomore Abby Rosato was 108th in 23:58.12 and senior Miranda Annunziata was 124th in 24:47.17.

The weather was pleasant, with temperatures in the mid-60s and sunny. If anything, it was a bit warmer than runners routinely expect this time of the year. With Sunken Meadow to host both the Section XI Championships (Nov. 2) and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships (Nov. 10), it was a good test run for runners to prepare.

“I feel like today was a good test for us to see how we’re going to do in the heat,” Maddaloni said. “The weather conditions for me, myself, are not ideal, but you know what? We got to get used to it because it’s going to be like this for the rest of the season.”

Maddaloni joked that Tuesday was a homecoming, the sectional championships state qualifying meet is a semi-formal and the state meet is the prom. “So, preparing for the big dance is really what it’s called,” she said.

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Photo caption: Mattituck eighth-grader Ava Vaccarella was the top Division IV finisher and 17th overall in the girls championship race. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)