Pat Burke couldn’t say what type of a high school girls cross-country team he has. “I don’t know yet,” the Riverhead Blue Waves coach said. “It’s a question mark.”
What Burke does know is that he has a top returning runner in Rachel Harrison-Smith, the team’s senior captain. He knows he has a quality runner in senior Gabriele Escallier, a transfer who was Southampton’s No. 2 runner. And, based on what he has seen in practice, he suspects that freshman Maurinne Sullivan will be a scorer for the Blue Waves.
It’s a young squad. The other team members are senior Rebecca Gray, sophomores Nina Schlosberg, Melissa Villafranco and Brittany Wright, and freshmen Najsha Cuello, Rebecca Edwards, Elise Littlefield and Isabella Marcucci. Gray is recovering from an ankle injury.
“The team has a great dedication,” Harrison-Smith said. “The girls, they just want to do the best they can and stick with everyone. A lot of them are freshmen, and they’re pushing it.”
The coaching staff has been encouraged by the attitude and work ethic of the runners.
“They’ve just been really positive,” Christy Salerno, the team’s assistant coach, said. “They cheer each other on. We all run together, and I think it’s going to be a great season.”