QUEENSBURY — Jeriqho Gadway and Margaret Champagne, the top harriers in Section VII, both have runners they look up to and try to emulate.
For Gadway, it is former Peru distance star Dan Lennon, now running for Syracuse University, and running legend Steve Prefontaine. Lennon racked up numerous state titles in cross country and track, and Gadway wanted to be like him.
For Champagne, it’s her older siblings, sister Mary Kate and brother Michael, both of whom won NYSPHSAA state cross country championships. She wants to join them at the top.
In the state championship meet Saturday at Queensbury High School, Gadway became a state champion like Lennon, finishing first in Class C. Champagne took second in Class D, but that and a third-place finish by her Seton Catholic team had her smiling ear-to-ear.
In addition to those two, Seton Catholic’s Melissa Whyman, Ashley Leta, Evan Page, and Saranac’s Zach LePage all medaled by finishing in the top 20 of their respective races.
Gadway, who began running in indoor track as an eighth grader and picked up cross country as a freshman, was making his third straight trip to the state meet. He improved on his 45th placing as a freshman by crossing as the 24th runner in 2012. And on Saturday, he made an even bigger leap.
The Plattsburgh High junior passed the finish line in 15 minutes, 49.3 seconds — 2 seconds ahead of Bronxville’s John Flannery— and stumbled onto the ground momentarily before being helped up by volunteers.
“I feel amazing,” Gadway said. “Racing-wise, I just ran my own race and just focused on me, not everyone around me. The course was better than the (Queensbury Invitational) earlier in the season.”
Champagne has been a regular at states since joining the varsity team in seventh grade. Her top finish was seventh place last year until Saturday. She finished the course in 18:53.4, 24 seconds behind winner Hope Pietrocarlo, a sophomore from second-place Maple Grove.