Jonathan Gay finished fourth overall and second among Class D runners in the Section VII cross country championship meet Nov. 1.
The 2013 cross country "team of one," has punched his ticket to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's cross country championship meet.
Jonathan Gay of Westport crossed the finish line of the 3.1 mile Section VII championships at the Cobble Hill Country Club in Elizabethtown in a time of 16:44, a fourth place overall finish and the second quickest for Class D runners.
Competing in cross country has been a goal for Gay, who was a state qualifier in the spring for the track and field championships.
"I have been looking forward to doing this for a couple of years now," Gay said. "I am glad the school is letting me do this. My family has been driving me everywhere for practice and meets and they even paid for my uniform. I am glad they have done this for me and I want to thank them for caring a lot."
Gay has been coached by Howard Hammonds, who said the Westport runner has improved throughout the season.
"He is a phenomenal young athlete," Hammonds said. "This was his eighth cross country race ever so he is still learning, but this was his best 5K time this season so I think that we are peaking at the right time. He has a really big race in him it just hasn't come out yet."
Hammonds said Gay has pushed himself throughout the season to improve, something that can be hard to do when running alone, no one to train with in practice or have in-team competitions with.
"He has nothing to run for but himself, which can be hard at times," Hammonds said. "The only person he is letting down is himself, which can make it easier to let down or quit. He does not do that. He does phenomenal workouts and is in great shape. I am proud of his progress."
"It's been hard and I have been working non-stop in practice," Gay said. "We have been going at it really hard, and I feel that I have worked twice as hard as anyone out there."
With his finish, Gay took the second of five at large bids for the Class D state championship race at Queensbury High School Nov. 9.
"It feels amazing to reach this goal," he said. "We are just going to work hard and push it over the next week. It is going to be crazy."
Gay said he feels his strengths come at the book-ends of the race, his starting push and kicks at the end.
"The middle is where I need to improve," he said.
Also in the sectional boys race, AuSable Valley's Brandon Ruocco finished 44th overall while Alex Wilson finished 52nd. In the girls race, Emily Patenaude finished 48th for AVCS with a time of 25:29 while fellow Patriot Lydia Russom was 51st in 26:43.