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Shelter Island runners come home

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO CREDIT Cal Lewis competing Monday against Stony Brook on Shelter Island School’s new cross country course at Goat Hill.
Kal Lewis competing Monday against Stony Brook on Shelter Island School’s new cross country course at Goat Hill.

For the first time in many years, Shelter Island School’s cross country team has a home it can call its own.

The team initiated the course at Goat Hill in fine fashion with both the boys and girls teams putting up comfortable wins over Stony Brook Monday afternoon.

Equally important was that the course on the Shelter Island Country Club (SICC) site was opened with fine displays of sportsmanship with students encouraging one another during the race.

And not only did the Island runners encourage their own, but the last girl to cross the finish line for Stony Brook was well behind the others when Island runner Joshua Green charged up the course to run the last half mile with her.

“I was so proud of him,” Coach Bryan Gallagher said. He along with Toby Green and Bryan Knipfing coach the cross country team.

“The coaches inspire the kids and the kids encourage one another,” Councilwoman Chris Lewis said.

She joined parents and other fans for the first run on the new course.

Shelter Island had 10 boys and eight girls running races Monday, although the full teams have 12 boys and nine girls. The team ran an invitational meet in Hampton Bays the week before, but Monday’s was the first league meet for the season with Director of Physical Education Todd Gulluscio predicting the entire team would be competing for top honors at the end of the regular season.

Several team members competed in state competition last year and girls cross country teams had brought home championships between 1999 and 2007.

Legendary runner and former coach Clifff Clark recalled his own cross country running in the 1960s when home meets were held at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club. Last year, the Island team had to go to Riverhead for its home meets until the Shelter Island Country Club offered its site to the team this year.

It saves the district money and the team time since they no longer have to be transported to Riverhead for home meets and enables more parents and students to attend the races without having to travel so far.

“Riverhead’s not home for us,” Mr. Gulluscio said, expressing his gratefulness to Ron Lucas and the rest of the Board of Directors of the SICC for making the space available to the team.

What’s special about running at Goat Hill is that the 2.5-mile course loops around making the runners visible to fans at several points during the race. That’s not the case, Mr. Gulluscio said, on most courses, where runners can be viewed only at the start and end of races.

And equally special is that there’s no place like home.