Oct. 26, after a disappointing finish in the Big 10 championships, Philo
Germano felt like the goals he set for himself as the leader of Albany
High School's boys' cross country team were slipping away. He needed
just three days to get back on track, and just over a week to complete
his personal checklist for the season.
Germano, a junior, qualified for the state
cross-country championships with an outstanding performance at the
Section II meet Nov. 4 at Saratoga Spa State Park.
He did it with
the first sub-16-minute race of his life, and he did it on his sport's
biggest local stage, the 3.04-mile Saratoga course.
"It was a big goal of mine to make states,
and I always wanted to
break 16 minutes at (Saratoga)," Germano said.
Bolting to the front at the start of the race, Germano willed
himself to run with the lead group and finished among the area's elite.
His time of
15 minutes, 45 seconds was a
personal-best by more than 20 seconds -- and 53 seconds better than his
time on the same course at the Big 10 meet the previous week.
"My goal was just to give myself a chance to be in contention and then
let it happen," he said.
Germano finished the Section II meet seventh among runners
from the Capital Region's largest schools and 12th overall
out of 572 runners from all area schools.
He competed in the New York State Public High School Athletic
Association meet Nov. 12 at Vernon-Verona-Sherill
High School, finishing 51st out of 107 runners in the large-school
He is the first member of the Albany High boys'
cross-country team to reach states since Erich Strassner qualified in
1995 and '96.
"I'm not surprised. He's a phenomenal runner," said first-year
coach John Deere. "I'm just elated that he could make it to states."
The schedule gave Germano a chance to rebound quickly after his
fifth-place finish at the Big 10 meet Oct. 26, and he took advantage. He
won the Harvest Classic at Troy's Knickerbocker Park on Oct. 29,
providing the confidence boost he needed with the Section II meet
"I could tell that mentally he was ready for it," Deere said.
Germano got another lift in the days leading up to the Section II meet
when several former Albany High runners called with words of
"All of their advice definitely helped, and it also means a lot that
they still watch and look out for me," Germano said.