Given its history, the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls track and field team has always been a difficult opponent.
With a new $290,000 track at the school, the Wildcats could be tough to beat at home this season.
“Now that we’ve got a track, we’ll be better,” coach Paul Koretzki said. “It’s going to save us on injuries. The [old] track was very hard and very old. The new track is very comfortable.”
The Wildcats, who tested their new track against Wyandanch Thursday with a 94-39 victory, might have a young team (they have only four seniors) but it’s a talented one as well.
“We’ve got some really good athletes who are young,” Koretzki said.
Shoreham returns three All-Suffolk County cross-country runners: sophomore Kaitlyn Ohrtman, eighth-grader Katherine Lee and freshman Alexandra Hayes.
Junior Courtney Clasen, a standout performer in soccer and basketball, is a three-year All-League selection in the triple jump and sprinting events.
A pair of returning All-League juniors are also expected to make their mark in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters — captain Rose Andrews and Maddy Kelly.
Sophomore Gabriella Massa is considered an “outstanding” pole vaulter by Koretzki and will high jump as well.
Kelly Dillon is slated to handle the triple and high jumps while another senior, Madison Hubner, will throw the shot put.
Shoreham’s biggest foe in recent years has been Bayport-Blue Point.
“Bayport has made some inroads into that,” Koretzki said.
But the Wildcats certainly are no slouches themselves with their storied history.
One only has to go into the school’s gymnasium to get a short course, as the Wildcats have earned 26 winter championships, 25 spring titles and 20 cross-country crowns. The spring team has a staggering 248-12 record over the last 32 years.
“It’s been good. We’ve had a long [line] of sisters,” said Koretzki, explaining how Shoreham track has become a family tradition.
But the Wildcats don’t boast about their accomplishments. “We don’t play up the record at all,” Koretzki said.
Instead, the athletes make their own statements in dual, league, county and state meets.
Bishop McGann-Mercy might not deploy the most veteran team around, but there seems to be plenty of young talent to make things interesting this spring.
“We have a pretty young team,” coach Collin Zeffer said. “Not many juniors or seniors. We’re going to try to develop freshmen.”
The Monarchs’ best runner is an underclassman, sophomore Meg Tuthill, who was a member of the Section XI distance-medley relay team that took first place in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association girls winter track championships on March 1. Tuthill ran the first 1,000 meters in the intersectional relay in about 3 minutes 6 seconds.
Tuthill is expected to run the 800, the 1,500 and the 3,000.
“She has an incredible work ethic,” said Zeffer, who has run similar distances. “We’re on the same page. She knows a lot and brings it to practice. As a sophomore, I expect her to be there the next two years.”
McGann-Mercy will start its season at Southampton on Friday in a meet that Zeffer called “a big one.”
A pair of seniors will have prominent roles in the sprinting and middle-distance events. Danisha Carter can handle the 100, 200 and 400 while Delina Auciello will be able to run either the 800, 1,500 or 3,000.
The 400 and 800 will be handled by freshman Maddie Joinnides and sophomore Dayna Young.
Sophomore Julianna Cintron will probably race in the 100 and possibly the 400, Zeffer said, while junior Delaney Macchirole will do the 100, 200 and 400.
“I think the girls are definitely ready,” he said.
Zeffer expects the Monarchs to do well. “Definitely a winning record is one of our goals,” he said. “We’re definitely looking to take home the league championship.”