The Shelter Island School varsity boys and girls cross country teams spent a lot of time on the road last week to close out their seasons.
On November 9, the Suffolk County Cross Country Coaches Association honored the top athletes in the county at its annual Awards Ceremony Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook. Many members of the boys and girls teams as well as their parents attended and dressed up for the occasion. The girls team — juniors Caitlin Binder, Francesca Frasco, Lindsey Gallagher, Isabella Sherman, sophomores Lily Garrison, Justine Karen, freshmen Emma Gallagher, Lauren Gurney, Abigail Kotula and 7th grader Emma Martinez Majdisova — were honored for earning the girls League and County Class D Championship titles.
The Shelter Island boys team —senior Will Garrison, juniors Joshua Green, Jack Lang, sophomores Roi Carbajal, Michael Payano, freshmen Jonas Kinsey, Kal Lewis, Walter Richards, 8th graders Domingo Gil, Jr., Tyler Gulluscio, Brandon Payano and 7th grader Pacey Cronin — were honored for earning the boys League and County Class D Championship titles.
The accolades kept coming as members of both teams received individual honors at the awards dinner. For the girls, individual honors went to Lindsey Gallagher for capturing her third girls Class D individual championship title, as well as All-Division and All-League honors.
Garrison earned All-Division and All-League honors. Also earning All-League honors were Frasco, Emma Gallagher and Karen.
Lewis was recognized for capturing his second boys Class D individual championship title as well as All-County, All-Division, and All-League honors. For the boys, Green was named All-County, All-Division and All-League. Garrison earned All-Division, All-League and All-Academic honors for meeting the criteria of being in the top 10 percent of his senior class and breaking 18:30 in the Sunken Meadow 5K. Gil, Kinsey and Michael Payano were also honored for earning All-League. The Shelter Island coaches were recognized once again as boys and girls Class D Coaches of the Year.
This was the second year in the school’s history that both the boys and girls teams had made the State Championships the same year. The long-standing winning tradition of girls cross country on Shelter Island started in 1994 when the Pierson-Shelter Island team won the County Championship (“Counties”) and went to “States.” Since then, a Shelter Island girls cross country team has won Counties and went to States eight additional times from 2000-2006 and 2015. The 2016 girls team makes the tenth appearance the team has been at States.
The boys team won Counties in 1985 and 1989 and went to States as part of a combined Southold/Greenport/Shelter Island team. In 1999, a combined Pierson/Shelter Island team won Counties and went to States. Last year, the 2015 boys team made the school’s first appearance at States as a solely Shelter Island team and 2016 makes our second.
On Friday, November 11, both teams boarded the Section XI charter buses in Medford that took all the athletes from Suffolk County’s Class A, B, C and D to the State Championships at Chenango Valley State Park just outside Binghamton. Representing Class D was the Shelter Island boys and girls teams as well as the top five individuals who qualified with the best times at the County Championships.
For the boys, it included two athletes from Southold, two from Stony Brook and one from Pierson. For the girls, it included three athletes from Pierson and two from Stony Brook. We had received a report that the Chenango course was a super flat golf course. On the trip up to Binghamton, we stopped at Chenango Valley State Park to jog and become familiar with the course and how it was marked before we raced it on Saturday. The teams were a little dismayed because the course did have its share of hills, but it certainly was no Sunken Meadow.
November 12, race day, we woke to temperatures in the 30s. But with clear, sunny skies and open fairways to run on, it warmed up quickly. The girls raced first in the Class D race Scoring for the Indians: Lindsey Gallagher ran 20:30.6, Garrison 22:44.3, Emma Gallagher 23:25.8, Martinez Majdisova 23:33.9 and Binder 24:00.6. The remaining girls, Gurney and Frasco, ran 26:13.4 and 26:25.4, respectively. As a team, the girls placed 9th.
This year was a challenging season for the girls team working through injuries. With some of our strong runners sitting out races for injury recovery purposes, the rest of the team did a tremendous job of stepping up and performing. Although it was a tough year, we became stronger because of it.
The boys raced next. Scoring for the Indians: Lewis placed fourth running 16:21.8, Green 17:27.2, Garrison 18:08.7, Kinsey 18:23.2, and Lang 19:19.1. The remaining boys, Payano and Gulluscio, ran 19:25.5 and 19:57.6, respectively. As a team, the boys placed fifth, two places better than last year, and the highest any Indian team has placed in school history. Lewis medaled for his top 20 performance, the only freshman on the stage.
His performance makes him only the second Indian, behind Janelle Kraus, to ever break the top 10 at the State Championships. In the mid 1990s, Kraus earned ninth place as a sophomore, third place as a junior and took first place as a senior at the State Championships.
It’s been a great end to another great season. Many of our athletes will look forward to next season, except one, senior Will Garrison, who will be moving on to college. For the boys team, Will served as captain and has been a key component of the success of the team the past two years, scoring in every race he’s run for the Indians. His positive attitude, boundless energy, sense of humor and dedication to the task at hand are strengths he brought to the team. We’ll miss him next year for sure.
In closing, winter track starts this week and runs through February. Coach Bryan Knipfing will start up the school’s Running Club again in early December for any student interested in running. Keep an eye and ear out for notices and/or announcements at school since registration will be required. Regardless of ability, all are welcome to come out, run and have some fun.