By Christopher Hunt
WAPPINGERS FALLS – Just steps from the finish line, still catching his breath, Arlington’s John Muller didn’t have a ton of time to reflect. But he still found a moment of clarity for an honest assessment of his race.
“I didn’t even know I could do that,” Muller said.
Mueller won the boys Varsity III race at the Section 1 Coaches Invitational in 16:03.25 against a solid field. Muller took control just after the first mile and never allowed Pearl River’s Mike Hickey or Jonathan Vitez back into the race. Muller had two weeks of training with no races behind him and may have let out some of his anxiety on the course.
“I was really excited for this race,” Muller said. “I really just wanted to get in here and tear it up. … I know I don’t have much of a kick so I wanted to get away from those guys as soon as I could.”
Haddonfield (N.J.) won the race with 58 points. Arlington was second with 71. Jared Leslie finished fourth for Arlington in 16:29.74 with Adam Doherty in fifth in 16:32.10. Mueller said the team took the last two weeks off to ready themselves for the strain of the weeks to come, with sectionals, states and federation meets looming.
“I think in previous seasons we may have peaked too early and we don’t want to do that again,” he said. “It’s disappointing and frustrating. But we’re ready to go (this year).”
Suffern is another team feeling like it’s ready as their county meet approaches Thursday at Bear Mountain. The Mounties won the Varsity I race with 42 points while rest one of their top runners, Kevin McKenna. Manu Kumar of Yorktown won the race in 16:49.17.
“I’m happy with it,” Suffern coach Joe Biddy said of the team’s performance. “We’ve been struggling the past couple weeks.”
Biddy was referring to a rough outing in the Eastern States race at the Manhattan Invitational and a lost dual meet to Rockland County rival North Rockland. But he said the team is coming around.
“We had a pretty good race,” said Mike Pereira, who finished second for the Mounties in 17:08.09.
“We came into this race for a confidence booster. We wanted to come in and get a win.”
Pereira admitted the Mounties were struggling and he thinks it shook them mentally but a solid race on a tough course may have been the remedy.
“I think we’re ready again,” he said. “We didn’t even know what happened.”
Fox Lane continued a stellar season by winning the Varsity II race with 76 points, just edging Mahopac by two. The Foxes’ Cord Sgaglio won the individual title in 16:54.62.
“This is good,” Sgaglio said. “We were going up against some of the best teams in the section and this is going to be a good foothold for us.”
Fox Lane has been emerging over the past three years and is one of the favorites to win the Westchester County meet Thursday at Van Cortlandt Park.
“It’s amazing because back in the ‘60s there were some great teams with legacies and we’re trying to get back to that,”’ Sgaglio said. “We’re really trying to bring that back and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.