Jordan, Zachgo leading Shenendehowa cross country team into final stretch

Teammates Julia Zachgo, left, and Danielle Jordan go stride for stride at the end of a during a Shenendehowa cross country meet on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 in Saratoga Springs. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)Teammates Julia Zachgo, left, and Danielle Jordan go stride for stride at the end of a during a Shenendehowa cross country meet on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 in Saratoga Springs. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Legs pumping and arms swinging in unison, Shenendehowa girls’ cross country’s Danielle Jordan and Julia Zachgo approached the finish line Oct. 13 during a league meet at the Saratoga Spa State Park course. Together, the duo crossed the line without another runner in sight, with Jordan’s right leg swinging across the line first.  

In the end, three-tenths of a second separated the two girls in a race that went right to plan — and showed the gameplan the top Plainsmen need to execute in the coming championship season.

“When the bigger races come, it’s going to be important we’re sticking together,” said Jordan, a senior. “It’s really important we finish together.”

Coaches Lance Jordan, left, and Jim Zimmons are shown during a Shenendehowa cross country meet on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 in Saratoga Springs. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Coaches Lance Jordan, left, and Jim Zimmons are shown during a Shenendehowa cross country meet on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 in Saratoga Springs. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

The big races are almost here for the Shenendehowa cross country teams, which will race Oct. 31 at the Suburban Council Championships before competing Nov. 6 in sectionals.

Archrival Saratoga Springs will be the Shenendehowa girls’ top opponent at both events, with the Section II Class A race taking more importance. Last year, Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs tied at sectionals, only to have Saratoga Springs win via a tiebreaker to secure its 15th consecutive area title.

In nine out of the last 10 championships for Saratoga Springs, Shenendehowa finished as the runner-up. The Plainsmen are looking to halt the Blue Streaks’ run this season, and the Jordan-Zachgo combination is the top weapon for Shenendehowa.

That showed during the Oct. 13 league meet, as Jordan finished in first place with a time of 18:18.10, Zachgo was second at 18:18.40 — and Bethlehem’s Holly Machabee finished 24 seconds behind for third.

At the meet, the Shenendehowa girls topped Bethlehem, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, and Troy in team action; meanwhile the Shenendehowa boys — running that day with a reduced roster — lost to Bethlehem and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, but beat Troy.


The remaining Section II schedule for the Shenendehowa cross country teams after their trip Oct. 17 to the Burnt Hills Invitational.

  • Oct. 20: At Averill Park for a league meet, with Averill Park, Mohonasen, and Shaker
  • Oct. 31: Suburban Council Championships, at Saratoga Spa State Park
  • Nov. 6: Section II Class A championship race, at Saratoga Spa State Park

Christy Angeliu cheers on teammates as they finish racing during a Shenendehowa cross country meet on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 in Saratoga Springs. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Christy Angeliu cheers on teammates as they finish racing during a Shenendehowa cross country meet on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 in Saratoga Springs. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Sportswriter)

Later that same week, on Oct. 17, the Shenendehowa teams also competed at the Burnt Hills Invitational at Saratoga Spa State Park. At that invitational, the Shenendehowa boys ran their full complement of runners and took fourth place in its 24-team division, with Mitchell Halpern’s 13th-place finish leading the way; meanwhile, the Shenendehowa girls ran with an abridged roster for that invitational and took ninth in an 18-team division, with Taylor Leggett leading the team with a 40th-place finish.

After a busy week with two trips to Saratoga Springs, Zachgo said the Plainsmen runners were using most of the time before their league championships to fine-tune their workouts to make sure they are peaking at the right time.

For herself, that means making sure she is staying right with her training partner at all times.

“I know [Jordan] and me need to stay together and lead the pack,” said Zachgo, a junior. “At sectionals, we need to be together to get the score we want — and we have a lot of goals.”

“We’re feeling really strong and confident,” Jordan said. “We’re really excited heading into the championships.”

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.