The Riverhead boys cross country team will begin each race with a simple motto: stick together.
The Blue Waves’ goal is for their runners to partner up, staying within arm’s reach of one another. The strategy has several benefits.
For starters, sticking next to each other allows the runners to motivate and push each other. And in a race where points are tallied by the place each runner finishes, the closer they can stick together the better.
“The more gap, the more of a chance for another team to get in there,” said Riverhead coach Pat Burke.
The Blue Waves come into the season with just about all their key runners back from last year. Leading the pack are senior Anthony Galvan and junior Travis Wooten, who will run together as Riverhead’s first group.
“We want more people to join Anthony and Travis’ group, but they’re not there yet,” Burke said.
The Blue Waves’ success in dual meets will often come down to the finishes of their next group of runners. Sophomore Nicholas Cunha and junior Joe Gattuso will form the next group. Burke said he’s expecting big things from both runners this season.
“Joe has been training very hard over the summer,” Burke said. “And Nicholas, we’re expecting a lot out of him.”
Junior Matt Tuthill and sophomore Jeremy Bornstein both return for the Blue Waves and will be vying for one of the top-five finishes in meets to count toward the team score.
The Blue Waves have depth with senior Jonathan Gao, junior Matthew Cutrone and a newcomer, sophomore Owen O’Neill.
“We feel excited and confident about this year,” Burke said.
The Blue Waves got a strong commitment from the runners during the summer. Burke said they’ve been training since early July, culminating in two-a-day practices (non-mandatory) to give the runners as many chances to run as possible.
Burke said a big turnout of runners in the middle school program has provided a pipeline to the high school.
“We had a large turnout of ninth graders,” Burke said.
The Blue Waves opened the dual meet season with a win over Half Hollow Hills West led by a first-place finish from Galvan in 17 minutes 26 seconds.
“They’ve always been a major contender,” Burke said. “I was very happy about that. But it doesn’t mean we’re going to walk over anybody else.”