Alex Kasper couldn’t trust the ground. That’s a daunting place for a cross country runner to be – especially during championship season – but there wasn’t much he could do. The ground wasn’t going to be there for the Jericho senior, not on a morning like Saturday when the rain hit the woods at Bethpage State Park like a tidal wave.
Fast times? They were out the window. Finding some way to slop across the finish was more like it. And Kasper did it better than anyone else in Class II, winning the county title in 16 minutes, 38.04 seconds at the Nassau Class County Championships on the 5-kilometer course at Bethpage.
“The course was a mess,” Kasper said. “I was slipping all over the place. Probably every 30 seconds I slipped at least once. The footing was horrible. It was just really uneven. It made it a little hard to race, but it was just about who could grind it out today.”
Kasper said he hung with Calhoun’s John Schwab for most of the race and opened a lead down the final stretch.
What made the conditions even worse was that four Class I races had already torn up the course earlier in the morning. Not only was Kasper fighting the rain, but he was looking to avoid the mud made worse by footsteps of runner’s past.
“The first section when you first get in the woods was really bad,” he said. “It was a long, 600 meter stretch of slippery mud. I had no footing. At the end, I actually moved to the outside and realized that was a better spot to be in because there was less rain hitting that area.”
Calhoun won the Class II team championship. Schwab was second in 16:43.20 and Logan Schaeffler was third in 16:58.55.
Mepham’s Amokrane Aouchiche won the Class I race in 16:16.42 He put tape around his spikes to try to combat the rain and gain better footing.
“My coach told me a story about when he raced in the rain and his friends spike just came off,” Aouchiche said. “So, to try and prevent that, we put black tape in the middle of my spike so it didn’t come off and was bonded tighter to your foot.”
Port Washington won the Class I team championship. Colin Funk was third in 16:44.33
North Shore’s Sam Sturge won Class III in 17:16.93. Whatley won the team title.