On September 12, the Shelter Island High School boys and girls cross country teams ran their first official dual meet of the season against the Pierson High School teams.
The Whalers’ home course is a flat mile loop through Sag Harbor’s Mashashimuet Park that the runners must complete three times. Although the course is less than intimidating, the weather conditions were not ideal, with temperatures in the 70s and brutal humidity that posed problems for a few runners.
The majority of the Mashashimuet loop runs through the woods by way of a narrow sand hiking trail away from the watchful eyes of coaches and supporters. The time alone that provides both a relief and stress for the athletes.
The natural instinct when running distance without distraction is to fall into a comfortable rhythm. Nevertheless, as Coaches Bryan Gallagher or Toby Green say, racing is not remotely about comfort. A runner shouldn’t set a pace with the miles to come in mind, but visualize the immediate steps to come.
The boys and girls technically compete in separate races, but the Sag Harbor races began within two minutes of each other, which meant racers overlapped.
The scoring of a cross country match is similar to golf in that the lowest score wins. Point accumulation is dependent on the places earned by individual runners. If an Island runner comes in first place, the team is awarded one point. If another Islander comes second, the team gets two points. And so it goes on.
At the match against Pierson, both Island teams won, making their current league records 1-0. The girls team walked away with a 22-35 win and the boys won 15 to 47.
The Shelter Island boys took first through sixth places with Kal Lewis leading the charge at a time of 16:14. Following Lewis was Joshua Green, with a close second of 16:25. Jonas Kinsey came in third at 18:39. Jack Lang, Michael Payano, and Tyler Gulluscio all finished in rapid succession, clocking in at 19:04, 19:11 and 19:19 respectively. The next Islander in the top 10 was Brandon Payano, who ran a 20:56 race. Jason Green finished just outside of the top 10 at 21:57.
This is Green’s first season officially running for the Island alongside his brother. His hard work and dedication are obvious and his teammates couldn’t be prouder.
Roilando Carabajal completed his race at 22:55. Alberto Morales and Pacey Cronin tied at a strong 23:05. Matthew Strauss and Theodore Olinkiewicz were the final members of the boys team to cross the finish line, with 30:53 and 34:11 respectively.
Both boys are new to running, but have worked hard to earn respectable times.
For four of the boys, Mashashimuet Park was their first cross country meet. Freshman Jason Green, Theodore Olinkiewicz, Matthew Strauss and sophomore Alberto Morales are all newcomers to the team. Another newbie, freshman Nicholas Mamisashvili, remains sidelined nursing a broken ankle.
At the top of the girls race were the Gallagher sisters. Older sister Lindsey took first place at 19:05, and Emma followed with a 21:41. The first Pierson runner to finish took third place.
The Island’s Justine Karen, who is asthmatic, fell after the first mile due to light-headedness, and was unable to get up and complete the race.
Francesca Frasco had occupied 6th place at time of her teammate’s fall, but finished in fourth with a 24:40 time. Emma Martinez Madisjova was the next Islander to cross the finish line, taking seventh place with a time of 28:59. In short order behind Martinez was Lauren Gurney at 8th with 29:42. The final runner for the Island, although not overall, was Isabella Sherman, who fought hard for her 30:03 time.
On September 15, the teams travelled to Rochester to run a meet scheduled for the following day on the 5K course at Wayne Central High School that will hold the state championships in November.
Getting up to Rochester and back required a great deal of time on the road — nearly 950 miles round trip — but the time allowed for plenty of team bonding. Team members ate meals together and participated in a leisurely trail run through a Rochester park the night before the meet.
Like the Pierson meet, Rochester took place on a brutally humid day. The boys team was broken up into varsity and junior varsity for this meet. Four athletes ran in the Class C/ DJV men’s race, while seven ran in the Class D varsity race. Brandon Payano came in 11th out of 169 total runners in JV, and received a medal with 20:08:52 on the clock.
The three other boys competing in the JV meet were Alberto Morales, 22:07.83, Jason Green, 23:14.54, and Pacey Cronin, 31:36.15.
Domingo “Junior” Gil was the first Islander to finish the varsity race, with 178 contestants, at 19:30:62. Behind Gil, Tyler Gulluscio ran alongside teammates Lewis and Green, who both encouraged Gulluscio throughout the race.
With their support, Gulluscio concluded his race with a time of 20:34:43. Similarly, Lewis and Green finished almost simultaneously at 20:35:43, and 20:35:65. Jonas Kinsey, 21:22:87, Michael Payano, 22:37:21, and Jack Lang, 22:52:82 followed in succession.
Five members of the girls team ran the Class D Varsity race, in a field of 131 runners.
Even down two of their seven, the remaining athletes dominated their race. Both Gallagher girls finished in the top 25 and were awarded medals. Lindsey Gallagher took 3rd place overall at 19:51.64, while Emma Gallagher finished 20th, running a 22:21.7 5K. Following Emma Gallagher were Frasco, 26:34.88, and Sherman, 30:18.38.
Emma Martinez-Madisjova “struggled but persevered,” in the words of Coach Gallagher. She was injured throughout last season, and on occasion still fights persisting problems with one of her knees. However, despite the brutal conditions of the race, she managed to finish.
“Her determination is a testament to her mental toughness,” Coach Gallagher said