As Kelsey Margey made her way to the end of the roped-off corral, she glanced over her left shoulder. There was nobody in sight.
Little did she know she had just made history.
The Harborfields junior's time of 18:13.40 won the Suffolk Class A girls cross country title by 1:10. To boot, she beat the record for the fastest time by a Suffolk girl on Sunken Meadow State Park's 5k course.
Laura Cummings of Bay Shore ran 18:15.23 in 2002.
Margey took that bit of history in stride. "I feel great and accomplished, but I didn't expect it," she said. "I just went out to run."
Margey is in her first cross country campaign, having never entered a competitive race until winter track of her sophomore year. After playing lacrosse in the spring, she embarked on a rigorous summer training schedule.
A relative neophyte to the cross country scene, Margey has found her athletic calling later than most. "Since I'm so new to the sport, I don't know that much," Margey said. "I just push myself hard and see what happens."
Margey's Harborfields team also won the Class A team title at the meet, which doubles as the state qualifier. The Tornadoes bested runner-up Miller Place by 20 points.
Ward Melville senior Mary Kate Anselmini won the Class AA title in 18:55.60. After finishing fifth in the race in 2009, she talked about the importance of ending her Sunken Meadow career in grand fashion.
"I guess I dug a little deeper than I thought I could," Anselmini said. "It ended up well."
Northport, however, took the team crown with 87 points, besting Ward Melville by eight points and Smithtown District by nine. Northport freshman and defending AA champion Brigid Brennan took second to Anselmini in 19:04.10.
Bayport Blue Point won the Class B crown, Center Moriches took home the honors in Class C and Stony Brook bested Southold in Class D.
But this day belonged to Margey, the beginner who is enjoying every moment.
After the race, she placed ice packs on both of her ankles. Margey just wants to be healthy for next Saturday's state championship at Lakeside Park.
She never anticipated cross country bringing her to this point.
"It's been a surprise," she admitted.
After Friday's tour de force, that sentiment should begin to fade.
- Live Games