Shoreham Wading-River coach Bob Szymanski has some high hopes for his high school boys cross-country team this Suffolk County League VI season.
“They’re very competitive,” he said. “I don’t have superstars, but I have a team. We’re a team’s team. … If everyone runs hard together, we’ll be hard to beat.”
Szymanski saw how competitive the Wildcats were at the Jim Smith Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park on Saturday.
Joey Krause had the most impressive Shoreham performance at the event, finishing sixth among 151 sophomores in the five-kilometer course in 19 minutes, 3.07 seconds. Classmate Eric DiLisio took 19th in 20:17.59.
In the freshman division, Adam Zelin finished in 18th place over 1 1/2 miles in 8:29.57.
Seniors Joey Chianese and Anthony Peraza will co-captain the Wildcats. Junior Joey Godfrey, the younger brother of three-time All-State selection Michael Godfrey, also is on the team.
Other runners in the mix include seniors Sebastian Rodriguez and Patrick Flannery, juniors Ray LaPorte, Brendan Madden, Harry Mikros and Ryan Doolan, sophomores Christopher Vedder and Andrea Liquori and freshman Camden Sisler.
The Wildcats (4-2 last year), who finished third in the county, have a long history of success. Shoreham boasts an impressive streak of having runners run at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships for 21 consecutive years.
Szymanski expects to compete against Bayport-Blue Point and Miller Place in the league. County champion East Hampton might not be as strong as it has been in the past, losing many key seniors to graduation.
“Our team definitely will be .500 or better,” Szymanski said.
First-year coach Matt Yakaboski inherits a Riverhead team that finished 1-4 in League III last fall. However, he was encouraged by the team’s performances at the Jim Smith Invitational.
Senior Erick Cunha finished sixth in the seniors division, running five kilometers in 19:19.26. With Luke Coulter having graduated, Cunha is expected to be the Blue Waves’ key runner.
“I expect to see great things from him in the season,” said Yakaboski, who replaced Will Razzano as coach.
Cunha many times finished a close second to Coulter last year. He recently was clocked in the mile at 4:17. “He’s hoping to bring that down,” Yakaboski said.
Several others stood out at the competition. Senior Christian Baron finished 24th out of 72 athletes in 19:19.26. Juniors Anton Majewski took 11th (19:25.21) and Cole Deveraux 20th (20:30.05) among 81 competitors in their class. In the sophomore group, Ryan Carrick finished seventh (19:05.69) and Ryan Keane 13th (20:04.87) among 151 runners.
“I think they performed very well in each age group,” Yakaboski said.
Sophomore Michael Cunningham also is expected to play a key role.
Teams will be competing in their leagues via a new format this season. Instead of a traditional dual meet, schools will go against three teams or even four teams. For example, in the Blue Waves’ first meet of the season at Sunken Meadow Tuesday, they not only met up with West Islip, but faced Half Hollow Hills East as well.
“This week will tell a lot about the new format,” Yakaboski said. “You can do very well in that meet or you can be behind the eight ball.”
Bishop McGann-Mercy coach Les Williams could not be reached for comment.
Photo caption: The Riverhead boys cross country team competes at a meet last week. (Credit: David Gatz, courtesy)