To any cross country athlete, Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park is the most well-known and toughest course Long Island has to offer.
“Toughest” comes in the form of the aptly named “Hernia Hill,” aka Snake Hill and its more formidable overlord, “Cardiac Hill.”
Hernia is a quarter mile 80-foot climb. Cardiac is a half-mile 150-foot climb topped with a super steep incline to reach the summit. It strikes fear in some, but to have any success at the “Meadow,” runners have one choice — overcome Hernia, then conquer Cardiac.
The Meadow has been a major part of Long Island cross country history for nearly 60 years. It has been used for high school regular season cross country meets since 1967, providing courses that vary from a mile to 5,000 meters.
On Saturday, September 24, the Shelter Island varsity boys and girls cross country teams traveled to the Meadow for the Suffolk Coaches Cross Country Invitational, an event with 100 teams participating. Shelter Island, the smallest school present, participated in four races against both small and large schools. Our grade 7 through 9 athletes ran the 1.47 mile freshman course and our grade 10 through 12 athletes ran the 5,000 meter course.
It would be a historical day for our younger athletes. In an absolutely amazing performance, Kal Lewis took first place in a race of 102 athletes in the boys 1.47 mile freshman race including Hernia Hill with a new personal record (PR) of 7:15.03.
Running alone, with the second place finisher over 48 seconds behind him, Lewis made history by breaking the all-time Sunken Meadow freshman course record by over 4 seconds. Incredible!
The remaining boys turned in strong performances all running new PRs with freshman Jonas Kinsey (8:07.62) placing fourth, complemented by 8th grader Tyler Gulluscio (8:46.97), 8th grader Domingo Gil Jr. (8:56.04), 8th grader Brandon Payano (9:15.31), and 7th grader Pacey Cronin (10:16.30). The freshman team landed an impressive third place out of 22 teams.
Freshman Emma Gallagher turned in an impressive second place in the freshman race of 74 athletes, with a new PR of 9:06.72. The remaining girls all scored new PRs as well — 7th grader Emma Martinez Majdisova (11:15.18), freshman Lauren Gurney (11:58.54) and freshman Abigail Kotula (13:04.23). The freshman girls did not place as a team because they were one short of the required five runners for a team score.
The varsity girls then ran the Meadow’s storied 5K course, which includes both Hernia and Cardiac Hill. Junior Lindsey Gallagher (21:01.19) came in 14th place in a race of 142 girls. The race was rounded out by sophomore Lily Garrison (24:02.43 – PR), junior Caitlin Binder (24:47.48), junior Francesca Frasco (25:47.38) and junior Isabella Sherman (29:39.78 – PR). The varsity girls team placed 13th out of 20 teams.
The varsity boys finished the team’s day running the 5K course. Junior Joshua Green (17:23.58 – PR) took fifth place in a race of 185 athletes, running the team’s best 5K Meadow time in the past three seasons. The remaining Islanders turned in great performances all running PRs as well — senior Will Garrison (18:48.54), sophomore Michael Payano (20:21.61), junior Jack Lang (20:34.59) and sophomore Roi Carbajal (25:17.20). The varsity boys team placed 15th out of 24 teams.
On Tuesday, September 27, Shelter Island hosted a crossover meet attended by the boys and girls teams of the Ross School at the Shelter Island Country Club. Crossovers are like scrimmages and don’t count toward league records. The boys defeated Ross 15-50. Team scoring was led by Green (14:10 – PR) in first, Lewis (14:12) in second, Will Garrison (15:17) in third, Kinsey (15:26 – PR) in fourth and Michael Payano (16:25 – PR) in fifth. The remaining Islanders ran as follows: Lang (16:53), Gulluscio (17:35), Gil (18:31 – PR), Brandon Payano (19:06), Richards (19:42), Carbajal (20:05 – PR) and Cronin (20:13 – PR).
The girls defeated Ross 15-50. Team scoring was led by Lindsey Gallagher (16:06 – PR) in first, Emma Gallagher (17:54) in second, Justine Karen (18:27 – PR) in third, Lily Garrison (19:06 – PR) in fourth, and Frasco (20:51) in fifth. The remaining girls finished as follows: Martinez Majdisova (21:20 – PR), Binder (21:34), Sherman (23:22 – PR), Gurney (23:41) and Kotula, on her coach’s advice, used the meet as an easy training day.