That’s the keyword this year for the Riverhead High School boys cross-country team. Commitment can be found in the runners and the coaches.
“The commitment is far greater,” Coach Pat Burke said. “The kids were at summer practices. The leaders, my three top runners, Anthony [Galvan], Travis Wooten and Kevin Williams, these guys are pushing kids now when they walk in practice. When practice is over, they take the initiative to make sure that everyone does another lap.”
And the runners aren’t alone. Burke and his assistant coach, Christy Salerno, can be found running with their athletes during training sessions, encouraging them along the way.
“Coach and I both run,” Burke said. “Whatever we ask the kids to do, we do. So, we did Sunken Meadow [State Park]. We ran with them, and I always tell them, ‘If I beat you, you have a problem.’ ”
The initiative shown by the Blue Waves is a nice starting point.
Galvan, the team’s top runner, is a junior who serves as a captain along with Williams, a senior. Wooten, a sophomore, is back from last year’s squad along with senior Sebastian Jakubiuk and sophomore Matthew Tuthill. All five were scorers last season.
“For me, Anthony Galvan is a special kid and a special runner,” Burke said. “He’s been with me for the introduction to cross-country to him, and he … exemplifies what a leader should do.”
Added to the mix are senior Ed Kruszon and juniors Jonathan Gao and Raymond Lai. The squad has a lot of freshmen (including Jeremy Bornstein, Fabiola Castillo and Nicholas Cunha) and sophomores (including Matthew Cutrone and Joseph Gattuso).
To prepare for the season, the Blue Waves have held practices at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays and Indian Island County Park in Riverhead.
Burke said Riverhead’s goal is to produce some all-league and all-county runners, qualify as a team for the Suffolk County meet, and post a winning team record. But he knows it will not be easy.
“Cross-country is a tough sport,” he said. “I’ve coached different sports, I’ve participated in different sports. It’s you against yourself. It’s the hardest sport you can do. When you run, your objective is to beat the time you had before, not the guy next to you.”