Longtime Shoreham-Wading River track coach Bob Szymanski stood alongside three of his most successful runners Saturday morning. The trio — John Lee, Ryan Udvadia and Matt Gladysz — had just crossed the finish line of the annual SWR July 4 5K in Shoreham when Szymanski pointed out an interesting tidbit.
Standing together, the three friends represented the last five county champions in varsity cross country.
Lee, who runs at Marist College, won the Class B title in 2010 and 2011. Udvadia, who runs at High Point University, carried the torch next, winning in 2012 and 2013. Most recently this past season, Gladysz, who just graduated, won his first county crown.
It was no surprise the three runners all finished at the top of Saturday’s race. The trio warmed up by running the 1-mile race, all crossing together for first.
In the next race, the 5K, it was Udvadia who sped across the finish line first in approximately 16 minutes, 27 seconds. (Exact results were not immediately available).
“We come down here every year,” Udvadia said. “It’s a lot of fun to come down here for coach [Szymanski] and see everybody. It’s like a tradition for us.”
A victory came much easier than last year, when former Olympian Anthony Famiglietti smoked the field by finishing in 14:57.
There were no Olympians in the field this year, so the path was clear for some the Wildcats’ top runners to seize the moment. Lee finished a few seconds behind Udvadia for second and Gladysz crossed in fifth.
The first female finisher was 13-year-old Danelle Rose of Miller Place. Rose ran on the varsity track team at Miller Place this past season as a seventh grader.
Rose said she ran the 1-mile race last year on July 4.
“This is my first time doing the 5K on this course,” she said.
For Udvadia, who was one of the top runners in Shoreham history after graduating last year, the race amounted to more of an easy run.
“John and I ran together the whole race,” he said. “It’s always great to have someone to run with. He was my captain three or four years ago. It brings back some good memories.”
As a freshman at High Point this past season, Udvadia ran all three seasons — cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
He ran mostly the 1,500-meter race in the track season.
Adjusting to the demands of college life in the beginning presented a challenge, he said.
“The intensity,” he said. “The overall workload, school, running, managing your time. Once I was able to find that right balance, then everything went pretty smooth. It’s three seasons, every day grinding. It’s a full-time job.”
In cross country season, his team won the Big South Championship for the first time since 2004. In track, Udvadia ran a personal best time of 3:51.57 in the 1,500 at an April meet.
The annual 5K, which is in its 31st year, raises money for SWR scholarships.
Before the race started, Szymanski warmed up the crowd with a few jokes.
“We started this race in 1776,” he said at the starting line. He then quipped: “If anyone sets a world record, you get Roger [Sullivan’s] car!”
His car was safe.
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