The Shoreham-Wading River High School girls track and field team had quite a fruitful season in 2014. So, what else is new?
Success has become just as much a part of the sport for the Wildcats as batons, hurdles and spikes. In 1980, when Paul Koretzki took over as the team’s coach, Shoreham went 7-2 in dual meets. With the exception of 2001, when they lost twice, it was the only year since then that they have lost more than once in a season.
It’s quite a record. Koretzki’s teams have gone a staggering 254-13 (.951) in his 36 years in charge. During that time they have won 25 league championships and 25 division titles.
Last season the Wildcats went 6-1. Bayport-Blue Point was responsible for the lone blemish on their record.
So, how do the Wildcats follow that up?
By getting better. As Koretzki sees it, his team is in a stronger position with his top three athletes. Katherine Lee has evolved into one of Suffolk County’s best 1,500-meter runners, Alexandra Hays, a quality runner in the 3,000, is also working on the 2,000-meter steeplechase, and long-distance runner Kaitlyn Ohrtman is back to her usual self after having a breathing condition corrected.
Lee, a freshman, finished fourth in the 1,500 in last year’s Section XI Individual Championships in 4 minutes 50.19 seconds. She made all-county, as did Hays, a sophomore who took second in that meet in the 3,000 in 10:23.92, the fastest time she has ever run.
The Wildcats have more, too, like sprinters Megan Kelly and Alex Kuhnle. Additional help should also be provided by Payton Capes-Davis (long jump, high jump, pole vault), Amanda Dwyer (400-meter intermediate hurdles, 400, 800), Courtney Ricca (100-meter high hurdles), Katie Dunn (discus, shot put) and Gabriella Massa (1,500 race walk).
The big question?
“Can I develop field events?” said Koretzki, who has the former Shoreham boys coach, Bob Szymanski, and Roger Sullivan assisting him.
As good as the Wildcats look, securing a 26th league title will not be easy.
“Bayport’s extremely strong,” Koretzki said. “I think we’re going to have trouble with Bayport and Glenn. … They have a lot of things that we have holes in, and we have a lot of things that they have holes in.”
Bishop McGann-Mercy (5-1 last year) lost its opening dual meet in 2014 to Southampton and never lost again. Coach Collin Zeffer expects his Monarchs to once again compete for a league crown.
It doesn’t hurt the Monarchs that they have Meg Tuthill on their side. The all-league junior will run anything from the 400 to the 3,000.
In the Section XI Individual Championships, Tuthill took second place in the 800 in a personal-best time of 2:15.71 and fifth in the 1,500 in 4:53.70. She ran both events in the state meet at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, finishing 24th in the 800 in 2:19.77 and 22nd in the 1,500 in 4:56.07.
The Monarchs also have a bunch of sprinters such as Delaney Macchirole, Adafih Blackburn and Julianna Cintron-Leonardo. Kate Butterfield and Devyn O’Brien can run middle- and long-distance events.
Others who could make an impact are Maddie Joinnides on the 4×800-meter relay team, hurdler Dayna Young, who can also run the 400 and the 800, and Olivia Kneski, a lacrosse player turned sprinter in her first year of running track.
Zeffer said he has about 29 athletes on the roster, about one-third more than last year.
“We have the numbers so we’ll be able to put girls in a lot of different events,” he said. He added: “So far so good. They’ve been coming out every day, willing to work hard.”
Riverhead heads into the season as something of a mystery team. Only five seniors are among the 50 girls on the roster. Twenty-five of them are freshmen and one is an eighth-grader.
It’s coach Maria Dounelis’ job to figure out who best fits where.
“It’s going to be interesting, to tell you the truth,” she said. “There’s definitely some talent there.”
Even among a couple of the athletes who have been on the team before there are some question marks.
Rachel Clement, a senior pentathlete, suffered her third concussion while snowboarding recently. Dounelis said Clement practiced a couple of days before feeling lingering affects, so her status is up in the air.
Last year Clement finished sixth in the pentathlon at the Section XI Individual Championships with 2,466 points. That tied a school record originally set by Klurissa Williams in 2004.
And then there is Dezarae Brown, a junior who was last on the team as a freshman. “She was phenomenal,” recalled Dounelis.
Brown injured her knee this past basketball season and is awaiting a magnetic resonance imaging test.
The Blue Waves can count on senior Ra’Shae Smith in the shot put and the discus. Smith came in 11th place in the shot put with a throw of 31 feet 4 inches at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational this past winter. Dounelis said Smith had a “phenomenal” winter season. “She’s definitely going to be a big factor.”
Ashley Courts, a senior sprinter and jumper, and Bella Marcucci, a senior 1,500-meter race walker, are also in the plans.
Keily Molina, a junior, is the team’s top pole vaulter. Maurinne Sullivan will compete in the race walk and Megan Carrick will run the 1,500 and the 3,000.
“Honestly, the rest of the kids are young,” Dounelis said. “Really, for us, this is a rebuilding year. We don’t know. Anything is possible.”