For more than a decade, the Seton Catholic girls cross country team has advanced past Section VII to the NYSPHSAA Class D Championship meet.
The highest finish for the Knights has been third, in 2008. In 2007, Mary Kate Champagne and Genna Hartung finished 1-2 in the Class D race, but a lack of depth dropped the team to a sixth-place finish.
Although Seton Catholic may not have the same top-tier talent like in 2007 — Champagne and Hartung would go on to become national championship qualifying Division I runners — the Knights have a solid five that has them aiming for a top-three finish Saturday in the state championships at Queensbury High School.
“We’ve had good individuals at states, we’ve had the team go and had some individuals do well, but this is the first year … we’ve got a pretty balanced team,” said Kathy Champagne, who shares cross country and track and field coaching duties with Keith Bombard.
And that’s not to say the Knights don’t have talent. They have a formidable top two in sophomore Margaret Champagne and senior transfer Ashley Leta.
Margarent Champagne, Kathy’s daughter and Mary Kate’s younger sister, has advanced to the state level every year since joining varsity in seventh grade. The three-time Section VII champion finished seventh in the state Class D race last year.
“For the team, it’s been nice working with so many girls that are hard-working, and if we have good races we want to be in contention for top three for teams,” Margaret Champagne said. “For myself, I definitely want to aim for top five. It’s hard to predict because anything can happen at the state meet.”
Her older siblings, Mary Kate and Michael, each have won state cross country titles, and that provides Margaret with a little extra motivation.