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11/14/15 7:05pm
11/14/2015 7:05 PM

Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Katherine Lee failed to retain her state title, taking third place in the girls Class B race on Saturday. (Credit: Robert O'Rourke, file)

Katherine Lee fell short in her attempt to win a second straight state championship on Saturday, but the Shoreham-Wading River High School sophomore came close, finishing third in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association girls cross-country championships. READ

11/02/13 8:30pm
11/02/2013 8:30 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia, shown here during the division championship, finished first in Class B to help the Wildcats to the county crown Saturday.


Ryan Udvadia wasn’t going to let some cramps cramp his style in his final competitive high school meet on his favorite cross-country course, Sunken Meadow State Park. The Shoreham-Wading River senior withstood some cramping and still won the Class B race in the Section XI Championships rather handily on Saturday.

Udvadia clocked a winning time of 16 minutes 26.84 seconds on the reconfigured 3.1-mile course. It was still 30 seconds faster than the second-place runner, Islip senior Mike Watts.

Udvadia’s performance, with an average mile time of 5:17.7, led the way for Shoreham-Wading River’s third straight county championship and ninth in 11 years. It has been a remarkable run for the League VI champion Wildcats, who have won 11 straight league titles, suffering only one loss over the course of those 11 years. They have also won nine of the last 11 division crowns under the guidance of coach Bob Szymanski.

Shoreham-Wading River grabbed the top ranking Saturday with 41 points. Its toughest competition came from Bayport-Blue Point (55 points).

Keith Steinbrecher (17:31.69) and Matt Gladysz (17:33.16) gave the Wildcats a boost by taking seventh and eighth. More help came from Connor McAlary (12th in 17:54.44), Jack Kelly (13th in 18:00.68), Michael Godfrey (21st in 18:25.87) and Ryan Groskopf (36th in 19:10.16).

As a county champion, Shoreham-Wading River is entitled to send seven runners to the state meet, which will be held Saturday at Queensbury High School.

Southold junior Jonathan Rempe was the Class D champion in 18:27.84. He qualified for the state meet along with teammates Owen Klipstein (fourth in 19:14.57), Jeremy Rempe (sixth in 20:11.15) and Gus Rymer (ninth in 20:35.75). Two other First Settlers, Michael Cosmadelis (21:13.35) and Christopher Buono (22:46.46), were 11th and 17th.

In Class B, Mattituck freshman Matt Heffernan came in sixth in 18:56.47. He was one place ahead of teammate Lucas Webb (19:00.92). The other Tuckers who competed were Adam Hicks (12th in 19:47.70), Dan Harkin (22nd in 20:33.12), Charles Zaloom (23rd in 20:34.23), Tim Schmidt (28th in 21:00.96) and Jack Dufton (32nd in 21:12.30).

Matt Abazis was the first of Bishop McGann-Mercy’s four runners, coming in 10th in 19:17.62. The others were Sean Tuthill (35th in 21:45.57), Dan Dern (40th in 22:54.96) and Elijah Louis (41st in 23:13.70).

Riverhead went into the Class A race hamstrung by the absence of its No. 1 runner, Travis Wooten, and its No. 3 runner, Nick Cunha, who both had SAT exams on Saturday. The Section XI Championships were originally scheduled for Friday, but postponed a day out of concern for inclement weather.

Without two of its top three runners, Riverhead finished 22nd among 23 teams. Joe Gattuso was the first Riverheader to cross the finish line. He was 95th in 19:38.71. Also competing for the Blue Waves were Eric Cunha (100th in 19:48.99), Owen O’Neill (103rd in 19:53.08), Luke Coulter (112th in 20:11.43) and Connor Behr (147th in 21:33.55).

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10/15/13 5:31pm
10/15/2013 5:31 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | With team captain Joe Gattuso raised on the shoulders of teammates, the Blue Waves posed for photographs after completing a 5-0 dual-meet season on Tuesday. Riverhead is a league champion for the first time in 15 years.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | With team captain Joe Gattuso raised on the shoulders of teammates, the Blue Waves posed for photographs after completing a 5-0 dual-meet season on Tuesday. Riverhead is a league champion for the first time in 15 years.


The Riverhead High School boys cross-country team had not won a league championship in 15 years. Judging by the happy looks on the faces of the Blue Waves, it was well worth the wait.

Having secured its first league title since 1998 with a vital victory over East Islip a week earlier, Riverhead was the favorite, on paper at least, to beat Half Hollow Hills West on Tuesday and put the finishing touches on a perfect dual-meet season. Then again, as Riverhead senior Travis Wooten said, “You never know until the finish.”

Spectators had a good idea of what direction the race was headed when a blue Riverhead uniform made the final turn out of the woods at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead before hitting the final straightaway to the finish line.

And then came another blue uniform. And then another. And another. And another.

The first five finishers — and six of the top seven — were Riverheaders. By bolting to a 15-47 victory, the Blue Waves completed their dual-meet season with a sparkling 5-0 record in Suffolk County League IV. It was the first time this season that Riverhead swept the top five places in a race.

“I couldn’t have asked for something better,” Wooten said. “This is amazing.”

Two seniors running in the final dual meet of their high school careers, Wooten and captain Joe Gattuso, led the way for Riverhead. Wooten was the first to complete the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes 53 seconds. The next four runners crossed the finish line within 18 seconds of Wooten. Gattuso (17:58) was followed by junior Nick Cunha (18:02), sophomore Connor Behr (18:06) and sophomore Luke Coulter (18:11). Riverhead freshman Eric Cunha, Nick’s brother, was seventh in 18:58.

Half Hollow Hills West finished the league season with a 1-4 record.

“Fifteen years. Oh my God,” said Gattuso, who wasn’t even old enough to go to school 15 years ago. “That’s a long time, 15 years.”

Perhaps the long wait made the achievement even more special.

“It hasn’t happened in a while … and it’s just a great feeling,” said Nick Cunha.

Hills West was added to the list of defeated Riverhead opponents that includes Hauppauge (21-34), West Babylon (19-44), Deer Park (19-54) and East Islip (21-36). The triumph over East Islip, though, at Sunken Meadow State Park was the critical one. Both teams entered that contest with 3-0 records. Recalling that race, Wooten said, “We added up the numbers, and the odds weren’t in our favor.”

That victory clinched at least a share of the title for Riverhead and set the path for the 5-0 season.

“I asked them to do extraordinary things [against] East Islip,” Riverhead coach Patrick Burke told reporters. “We had athletes run 40, 50 seconds faster [against] East Islip. Those are remarkable times. In this race, [it was] more of do what you do, stay in your comfort zone, and if there was a Hills West guy in front of you, pass him.”

Burke said the key to his team’s success has been depth, which in the cross-country world is gold. “I can’t say we have this outstanding team that runs sub-17s at Sunken Meadow, but we have a very good quality team for our division, our league,” he said. “I didn’t want to be overly confident, but I felt good and I felt if we were going to do it, this was the year, and everything was in place.”

After the race, the Blue Waves posed for photos, with Gattuso raised on a couple of shoulders. They had good cause to be happy. All the off-season training and weekend practices had paid off.

“As corny as it sounds, we have heart, you know?” Wooten said. “We haven’t had it for a long time. None of the guys here have ever experienced a league championship before.” He added: “We got it for Coach Burke. It means a lot to him. It means a lot to the team. It means a lot to the school.”

So, the Blue Waves will get a banner to hang in their gym. More immediately, mention during the school’s morning announcements was expected.

Nick Cunha said, “I think we’re going to get our names announced on the loudspeaker.”

Fifteen years later, it’s a deserving honor.

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