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Cross country teams win league titles for 2nd year

CHRISTINE GALLAGHER PHOTOS Lindsey Gallagher cresting the hill during the varsity girls cross country race against Pierson for the League Championship on Tuesday, October 18 at Goat Hill.

Lindsey Gallagher cresting the hill during the varsity girls cross country race against Pierson for the League Championship on Tuesday, October 18 at Goat Hill.

Under a dark and nearly full moon sky, the Shelter Island varsity boys and girls cross country teams boarded the first ferry for Greenport on Saturday, October 15. We then joined the Southold varsity cross country teams and shared a bus for this season’s longest road trip to date. Our destination, Warwick, Rhode Island for the Brown University Cross Country Northeast High School Championships.

Long anticipated, this was the largest invitational we have ever participated in with over 2,000 athletes from  more than 200 teams throughout New England and the New York City metropolitan area. A very well organized event, it took 12 races in the form of both boys and girls freshman, junior varisty, varsity and championship races to get all the athletes through the course.

It was a beautiful New England fall day for a race with the reds, oranges and yellows of northern hardwoods just starting to turn.

The 5K race course started in a large open field with a very long starting line to accompany well over 200 runners. After a good third of a mile, the course turned into the woods onto a 6- to 8-foot-wide path, traveling a mile long bluff along Greenwich Cove, looping back through white pine forest and then returning the same way out to the finish line in the large open field where we started.

The first races we participated in were the junior varsity races. In the girls JV race, junior Isabella Sherman (27:02.22) and freshman Abigail Kotula (30:04.13) ran their fastest 5Ks of the season with Sherman taking 90 seconds off her personal record (“PR”) and Kotula taking over four minutes off her PR. In the boys JV race, 8th grader Brandon Payano (20:04.68 – PR), freshman Walter Richards (20:40.48 – PR) and 7th grader Pacey Cronin (20:42.33) turned in very solid performances on the fast and flat course besting their PR’s by 30 seconds for Payano, two minutes for Richards and four minutes for Cronin.

Next up was the girls varsity small schools race with 170 athletes. Scoring for the Indians were junior Lindsey Gallagher (19:01.13) earning sixth place, freshman Emma Gallagher (21:12.44), sophomore Lily Garrison (21:13.73), junior Caitlin Binder (22:57.32) and junior Francesca Frasco (23:51.95). Rounding out the team were 7th grader Emma Martinez Majdisova (24:54.95) and freshman Lauren Gurney (26:47.89). The girls team took 15th place out of 24 teams as all of the girls ran new personal records (“PRs”) during the race.

The last race of the day for the Indians was the boys varsity small schools race with 182 athletes. Scoring for the Indians were freshman Kal Lewis (15:54.83) in fifth place, junior Joshua Green (16:24.54) in 11th, senior Will Garrison (17:27.22), freshman Jonas Kinsey (18:11.29) and junior Jack Lang (18:36.29), all running PRs. Tyler Gulluscio (19:25.54), an 8th grader, and sophomore Michael Payano (19:37.12) ran great times as well breaking the 20 minute mark. The boys team took 11th place out of 26 teams.

Post-race conversation was very lively. All of our athletes got a true “big race” experience. Imagine 170-180 athletes trying to race along a narrow path through the woods – there’s just not enough room! Running shoulder to shoulder, jostling, trying not to get “boxed in” or, worse yet, getting pushed off of the course into the trees are the challenges the racers face. A few of our athletes enthusiastically commented that this was as “cross country” as it gets, as they had to hurdle wooden railings to avoid getting pushed off the course or run through thorns to pass other runners ­— and they loved it.

On Tuesday, October 18, prior to their league meet, the varsity teams hosted a Cross Country Half-Mile Fun Run for elementary school kids at the Shelter Island Country Club. Makayla Cronin, Nathan Cronin, Johnny Gurney, Cynthia Hatchett, Michelle Martinez, Sebastian Martinez and Elena Schack all took part, supported by cheering fans, and took home a medal and t-shirt.

Following the Kids Fun Run, the Shelter Island teams successfully defended their League Championship boys and girls team titles in front of an electric home crowd.

The girls raced first against Pierson on our 2.5 mile course. Scoring for the lady Indians were Lindsey Gallagher (16:38) taking first place, Lily Garrison (18:15 – PR) in second, Binder (19:46) in fifth, Martinez Majdisova (21:03 – PR) in seventh and Gurney (21:40 – PR) in eighth, who took two minutes off her old PR. Frasco (21:51), Sherman (23:31) and Kotula (29:59 – PR) complemented the team’s performance. The girls team won by a score of 23-35 to clinch the league title for the second year in a row.

The boys raced next against Port Jefferson. Scoring for the Indians were Lewis (13:52 – PR) in first, Green (14:20) in second, Will Garrison (14:54 – PR) in fifth, Kinsey (15:19 – PR) in sixth and 8th grader Domingo Gil Jr. (15:41 – PR) in eighth. The remainder of the team ran as follows: Lang (16:20), Michael Payano (16:51), Gulluscio (17:14 – PR), Richards (18:08 – PR), Cronin (18:49 – PR), sophomore Roi Carbajal (19:06 – PR) and Brandon Payano (20:57). The boys team won by a score of 22-33 also clinching their second league.

With three weeks left in the season, only the championship races are left on the calendar. We will be running the Division Championships next Tuesday, October 25, followed by the County Championships on Friday, November 4, both at Sunken Meadow State Park.