SYRACUSE , NY (WSYR-TV) - There has been a lot of negative attention in the sports world in the past month. The girls from Fayetteville-Manlius high school's cross country team can offer a story of perseverance and success.
Pride greeted the athletes as they touched down at Hancok Airport. They returned from Oregon as National Champions.
"Everyone was saying this is going to be the year that F-M is going to go down," said lead runner Jillian Fanning. "That pretty much was all I needed to motivate me."
While other teams at the competition were jumpy, the girls from F-M were all business at the course. No smiles. Pure focus.
The club hit the course missing key members of the pack. Two top senior runners were out with injuries, including last year's national runner-up.
"It's amazing that we've been able to take a different team each year and with completely new girls, and still be able to have the success that we've had," said teammate Emily McGurrin.
The girls clinched their sixth straight national title at Saturday's race.
This time, Katie Brislin fell at the beginning of the race.
"It was so scary, I was like in dead last for awhile," said Brislin. "In practices, our coaches just taught us...prepare for the worst, and I just kind of put my head up, looked at everyone's backs and ran as fast as I could after them."
With the finish line in sight, the girls say they were running for their coach, Bill Aris, who lost his father just three weeks ago.
"That's an emotion that I can't put that into words, I appreciate it so much," said Aris. "Yes, I'm sure they did it for me."
There is an important lesson in this victory for the Hornets. Set-backs can be powerful motivation.
The Fayetteville-Manlius boys also made the trek to Portland, Oregon. They finished 12th in their race this year, after they were runners-up in 2010.
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