The calendar says fall has arrived, but has it?
After the cross country season got off to a fast start the first week, Mother Nature had different plans for cross country this past week.
On September 19, the Shelter Island Indians were scheduled to race a dual meet against Port Jefferson. Although Port Jeff is a Class C school and we are a Class D school, we compete against them for the league championship title, and they are always competitive, especially their boys team.
Being a much larger school, they have a much larger pool of students to put together a large roster. Port Jeff also runs very competitive winter and spring track programs, which complements their cross country program.
The Island boys and girls teams have won the League VIII Champion title the past two seasons. During the 2015 season, when the Island varsity boys unseated Port Jeff as the champions, it was the first time in 18 years that the Royals had not been the champs.
For certain, Port Jeff is training very diligently, and they would like nothing better than to snatch that title back.
The big showdown was to take place at Port Jeff’s home course, Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, but it was not to be because Tropical Storm Jose had other plans. Race organizers, looking at a forecast of rain and high winds, canceled the day’s races for safety reasons. A reschedule date is still being negotiated.
On September 23, the varsity teams traveled to Sunken Meadow for the Suffolk Coaches Invitational, a large event where the athletes run against competitors from Class A through D. The day was hot, certainly not fall-like, in the mid to high 80s. High humidity didn’t make conditions any better for racing.
It was to be “one of those days,” starting with our bus arriving 30 minutes late for the two hour ride to Sunken Meadow. The first race we were scheduled for was one of two freshmen boys races on a 1.47 mile course.
Arriving late, we missed the race we were scheduled for, but we jumped in on the second freshmen race after an all-too-brief warmup. But our freshmen boys team had an excellent showing, earning a fourth place team finish among 13 teams spread across Class A through D schools.
Tyler Gulluscio and Domingo Gil took fifth and sixth place, respectively, with times of 8:19.08 and 8:20.09. Brandon Payano medaled by taking 17th place with a time of 8:39.63. Also scoring for the Indians were Jason Green and 8th grader Pacey Cronin clocking in at 9:51.32 and 10:06.18.
Rounding out the freshmen team were Matthew Strauss and Theo Olinkiewicz, welcome additions to the team this year, with improving times of 11:26.24 and 12:36.54, respectively.
Next up was the varsity girls race, which was on the storied — and hilly — 5K course. We were shy of the five athletes required to run as a team. Sophomore Emma Gallagher, trying to shake off a cold, was the first lady Indian to cross the finish line.
Senior Francesca Frasco had a mishap came when her shoe came untied and then lost it about halfway through the race. She finished the last mile with one shoe in Shelter Island’s number two position.
Luckily, a girl from another team finishing behind her picked up her shoe, and ran with it all the way to the finish line where Frasco was reunited with it. Senior Isabella Sherman came across in the Island’s number three position battling the heat the whole way.
The varsity boys race was slated to start at 12:35 p.m. There were 15 teams at the starting line, and one of those teams was Port Jeff. This would be our chance to size each other up. But we were foiled again, since three medical emergencies occurred at the park in rapid succession minutes before the boys race would start.
The boys stood around in the blazing sun at the starting line, adrenaline in their veins, waiting for word on why the race was 20 minutes late. The three ambulances on standby at the park had to load and go with three patients and the race organizers were forced to cancel the boys race as well as the remainder of the day’s races because there were no ambulances left.
To finish the day, we had a long trip home with our bus navigating the heavy North Fork agritourism traffic followed by the crowds of the Greenport Maritime Festival. We can only hope the coming week brings much better luck.
Next races for the Indians are Tuesday, September 26, a dual meet at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead, and Thursday, September 28, the Tom Knipfing Invitational at Firemen’s Field in Ridge.
On Tuesday, October 3, we’ll have our first of only two home meets at the Shelter Island Country Club, scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. Your support is much appreciated and we hope to see you there.