As fast as Samantha Nadel and Brianna Nerud have run, Wednesday was a chance for them to slow down and enjoy the moment.
The North Shore distance duo signed their letters of intent in front of a crowd of friends, family, teammates and administrators in the school library. Nadel will run for Georgetown; Nerud will compete for Syracuse.
"It feels so surreal right now," Nadel said. "To actually make it official, it's like reality is finally setting in."
Nadel and Nerud were key contributors to the Vikings' state championship cross-country season last fall. Nadel placed 10th at the Nike Cross Nationals in December, and Nerud took 17th.
Nadel, who has run the fastest indoor mile in the nation (4:46.11) this winter, said she tried to make her decision as simple as possible.
"I was starting to overthink it," said Nadel, who said she also considered Villanova and Syracuse. "So I just took a step back and thought about where I thought I would be the happiest."
She chose Georgetown because she saw similarities between the Hoyas' program and her career at North Shore. The Hoyas won their first Division I cross-country national championship last fall.
"Where they've come from is kind of like where we've come from," Nadel said. "Both programs have gotten really strong over the past few years."
Nadel said she is hoping for that growth to continue once she arrives on campus. "Looking at how much they've improved over the past few years is encouraging," she said.
Nerud said she chose Syracuse after looking at Duke, Providence and Georgetown. She said her deciding factor was how she thought she'd fit in with the rest of the team.
"I felt really comfortable with the coaches and the team," said Nerud, who holds the New York outdoor record in the 2,000-meter steeplechase (6:29.55). "It was a tough process, but in the end you sort of just know where you want to go."
Nerud also is looking forward to making an impact at a program that has won three consecutive NCAA Northeast Regional cross-country titles.
"I'm really excited for the challenge of competition," she said. "Being a freshman is like starting all over again."
North Shore coach Neal Levy said Nadel and Nerud both made the right call.
"Both of those schools fit their needs athletically and academically," he said. "It's not always about going to the best program. It's about finding the best overall fit, and each school fits them just right."
Hannon chooses Clemson. Elmont's Valencia Hannon will sign her letter of intent Thursday to run track at Clemson, according to coach Michael Graham. Hannon, one of the top sprinters on Long Island, ran a state-best 11.87 seconds in the 100 meters in last year's outdoor state championships. She also has a Long Island-best 7.11 in the 55-meter dash this winter.