Bill Aris: 'That Was Our Greatest And Most Heroic Performance In Program History'

Perfect seasons are nothing new to the Fayetteville-Manlius girls cross country program. 

But Hornets head coach Bill Aris said matter-of-factly on Saturday at Nike Cross Nationals that his girls program's win was the "greatest and most heroic performance in all of program history." 

There are some very key reasons for that. 

In the Hornets 11th win in 12 seasons, their total team score on Saturday -- 89 -- was just the 10th lowest and it nudged Naperville North (IL) by just five points. Numerically speaking, it wasn't the fastest the team had ever run. 

But numerous ailments found the Hornets in the days before NXN, forcing decisions out of runners. 

One of FM's lead runners, Sophie Ryan, picked up food poisoning on Thursday and was in the hospital as of up until 1 a.m. on Saturday morning taking an IV.

But Ryan wasn't missing this race. 

"She came here white as a ghost and insisted running," Aris said. "I really didn't think she was going to, but I let her and it was with the understanding that I wasn't expecting much." 

Another one of FM's runners, Rebecca Walters, became sick on Wednesday and even showed it on the course on Saturday after 600 meters. 

"Rebecca threw up and continued racing," Aris said. "This sounds rather disgusting, but that's the way it was." 

And the reality was that even though FM was down in some ways, the Hornets still continued to hold on. A win is a win, as they say, even if it was by five points. 

"The girls who were healthy came together unified, gave it all they had and they knew it would be tough and they knew each one of them mattered even more today because some of our killers were off," Aris said. 

And this could have been one of the better performances in FM history, too -- outside of 2014, when both programs swept national titles. 

The Hornets boys program, ranked No. 8 in the Flo50 national rankings, finished second overall with 159 points -- Loudoun Valley (VA) High's boys won with the lowest total in NXN history with 89. 

"I was ecstatic with the boys getting second-place and surmounting so many boys teams that we were behind in the rankings," Aris said. "It made me feel especially proud for them."