KINGS PARK - Yes, the fourth time was quite a charm for Eva Borton.
In more ways than one, the Clinton Central senior's fourth straight trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's Cross-Country Championships was a fitting end to a remarkable career.
Not only did Borton leave Saturday's meet at Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island as the girls Class C state champion – Clinton's first in 30 years – she did it as the leading member of a Section III championship team that placed third in the Class C standings.
"It's pretty awesome," Borton said, "especially considering the team was here with me this time. That was really important to me."
So important, Borton turned around after cruising to a 40-second victory in a field of 130 runners and was allowed by meet officials to cheer on her teammates, including younger sister Leah, as they reached the finish line.
"They said, 'You're the state champion, you can do anything you want,'" Clinton head coach Norm Deep said. "Eva wants the talk to be more about the team than about her – that's who she is. That's why she deserves this. She already had been (to states) three times before and her whole mission, her goal, was to bring her teammates with her to states."
That mission was accomplished last week in the mud and slop at Chittenango, when Borton captured a third consecutive individual title and the Warriors won their first Section III team title since the 1989 state championship team.
Back then, the Warriors were led by Sarah Perrotti, the Class C state champion in 1988. On Saturday, Borton – the Class C runner-up a year ago, eighth as a sophomore and 39th as a freshman – led from start to finish and won with a 5K time of 18:24.3.
"I was pretty determined," said Borton. "I've been waiting for this and preparing for this for a long time."
"She was pushed by herself," Deep said of Borton's wire-to-wire victory. "She had the faith in her training and where she's at right now. Coach (Art) McKinnon gave her the confidence to go out hard early and that's what it took to win today."
Clinton freshman Madison Luke (20:08.1) was 11th overall and sophomore Taylor Harvey (21:14.8), running in her second state meet, was 42nd. They were followed by sophomore Emily Hemstrought (21:59.4), freshmen Leah Borton (22:20.1) and Finley Davignon (23:20.7) and sophomore Rebecah Bashant (23:44.2) on a Clinton team that finished with 117 points and placed third in Class C behind runaway winner Greenwich (38) and Bronxville (105).
Vernon-Verona-Sherrill junior Delaney Brewer finished fifth in the Class C girls race with a time of 19:46.9.
Deep said it was the fast start by Borton, who hopes to run at Williams College next year, and her ability to grab the early lead that led her to victory.
"It was a mad dash to a funnel point on the course about a half-mile into the race. ... If you weren't in front, you were trapped in that spot," he said. "That first half mile was going to dictate who was going to finish in the top 10, so Eva had to run hard and be aggressive.
"I couldn't be more proud of her. No athlete deserves it more. This is her passion, her lifestyle, and it finally all came together for her today. She's inched her way closer and closer to this every year, and this is a great way for her to cap a great career. It's a storybook ending."
The weather even cooperated, at least compared to what Borton and the Warriors have been dealing with for the last month.
It was wet and windy and the course did get muddy, Deep said, "but compared to what the conditions have been like for us in Section III, today was like a walk in the park. ... I think that was an advantage for Eva and everyone else from Section III."
Section III, in fact, was the winning section in the Class A and Class D girls events. In Class A, Saratoga Springs edged runner-up Fayetteville-Manlius 46-47 for the individual team title. Rome Free Academy sophomore Gianna Capoccia was 20th overall in 19:24.6.
Tully won the Class D girls title, led by Brookie Rauber's win over South Lewis teammates Lexi and Brynn Bernard and Hannah Ielfield. Remsen sophomore Jade Dening was sixth in 19:37 and Old Forge junior Emily Rudolph was ninth in 19:59.7.
In the Class B girls race, Camden freshman Elizabeth Lucason (19:10.6) was fifth, older sister Morgan Lucason (20:28.3) was 38th and teammate Haley Hinds (20:32.0) was 44th. Oneida freshman Madison Mack (20:40.6) finished 50th.
Farmer, Fauvelle record
New Hartford senior Josh Farmer's fourth straight state meet appearance ended with a sixth-place finish in the Class B boys race. Farmer was the top Section III finisher in the race with a 5K time of 16:26.6. He was 34 seconds back of the race winner.
In the Class C boys race, Adirondack Central junior Tyler Fauvelle finished sixth with a time of 16:50.8.
Section III boys finished first in Class D, led by state champion Beaver River and second- and third-place finishers, Colton Kempney and Cory Demo.
Old Forge junior Jack Rivet (17:28.0) was ninth, Waterville junior Dylan Williams (17:39.0) finished 13th and Remsen junior Michael Roberts (18:03.3) placed 23rd in the Class D race.
Rome Free Academy sophomore Nathaniel Sletten finished 47th in Class A. Fayetteville-Manlius and Section III won Class A team and section titles.