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).


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.


09/13/13 7:00pm
09/13/2013 7:00 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia was honored as the top runner in the county.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia was honored as the top runner in the county last fall.


Bob Szymanski, the Shoreham-Wading River boys cross country coach, was talking to a reporter about his team’s star runner, Ryan Udvadia, when he suddenly interrupted himself. “You know how to spell Udvadia, right?” he asked the scribe.

It didn’t sound as if Szymanski was joking, but he could have been. Udvadia’s exploits in cross country as well as track and field have made headlines.

In cross country last fall, Udvadia was voted the Runner of the Year in Suffolk County by coaches. The all-state runner finished among the top 10 in the state meet. He was one of only two boys to break 16 minutes at Sunken Meadow State Park last year, clocking 15:57 on the 3.1-mile course. He won a county championship, all seven invitationals he competed in as well as all six of Shoreham’s dual meets, all victories by the League VI champion Wildcats, by the way.

“Ryan is one of the top two to three runners in all of Long Island,” Szymanski said of his senior captain. “Ryan is in great shape right now. He was running six days a week in the whole month of August, and he’s ready to go right now. Now the only problem is he has to stay perfect again and we’ll be O.K.”

Well, the truth is the Wildcats are more than O.K. They have claimed 10 straight league titles, nine county crowns in the past two years, including the last two Class B championships, and show no signs of slowing down. They haven’t lost a dual meet in three years. And, as talented as Udvadia is, they have other strong runners, too.

Pete Steinbrecher, Jack Kelly, Matt Leunig, Connor McAlary, and Roman Brown — all returning seniors — should produce points. Ryan Groskopf, a junior, and Michael Godfrey, a sophomore, are competing for the No. 6 and No. 7 spots along with Brown. Szymanski said he was not sure where junior Matt Gladysz will fit into the picture.

Also among the team’s 21 runners are some good looking freshmen: Anthony Peraza, Chris Sheenan, Sebastian Rodriguez and Anthony Lynch.

So, things are looking up for the Wildcats.

Said Szymanski, “The important thing is we have to keep the team healthy and the coach sane, which isn’t easy to do.”

The top seven runners for Riverhead wear a distinction. Literally.

While their teammates wear practice jerseys that read, “Blue Waves,” the top seven have jerseys that read, “Cross Country.” As coach Patrick Burke sees it, it’s motivation, something for runners to strive for. “The guys that have those jerseys, they feel a certain amount of honor and respect,” he said.

Having graduated Anthony Galvan, who now runs for SUNY/Cortland, Riverhead still has Travis Wooten, a senior all-league runner in his fifth year on the team. He leads the pack along with senior Joe Gattuso and junior Nicholas Kunha.

“We’re expecting great things from Travis,” Burke said. “Travis has been a top-five runner as a freshman and he was our second-best runner last year right behind Anthony Galvan. We’re hoping that this is the year for him.”

Also wearing the coveted practice jerseys earmarked for the team’s top runners are junior Jeremy Bornstein, junior Owen O’Neill, freshman Eric Kunha (Nicholas’ brother) and sophomore Connor Behr.

“I’m looking forward to seeing those people, the top runners, reach their potential,” said Burke.

With 11 freshmen and 10 sophomores on a team of over 30 runners, the future looks bright for Riverhead. “We have some depth and we have the younger guys coming up that are going to challenge the top seven,” said Burke.

Burke said a good number of his runners have been training over the summer in preparation for the season. Cross country is a sport without shortcuts. There is only one way to succeed, and that is through putting the miles in.

“It’s grueling,” Burke said. “To be a good runner, you have to put the mileage in.”


11/14/12 8:50pm
11/14/2012 8:50 PM


The Southold School District today remembered freshman Ronan Guyer, 14, who died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack during a practice for the state cross country championships, as a “kind, caring and compassionate person who was well liked by students and staff.”

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Superintendent David Gamberg said Ronan was “devoted to his studies and excelled academically.”

Mr. Gamberg noted that in addition to being an athlete, Ronan was active in the Boy Scouts, was a member of the Southold Yacht Club, sailed on the Mattituck and Southold sailing teams and was enrolled in the North Fork NJROTC program.

Ronan Guyer had been in a coma and on a ventilator in a Buffalo hospital since Friday. He was injured after slipping on a patch of mud and hitting his chest on the ground, his family said. The impact was believed to have caused cardiac arrest.

He had no known heart condition, his family said.

In addition to his parents Lori and Stephen Guyer, Ronan is survived by his sister, Shannon, and brother, Colin. A full obituary and arrangements will appear when available.


11/04/11 6:46pm
11/04/2011 6:46 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior John Lee (594) ran with the leaders after the start of the Class B race before winning his second straight sectional title.

To those who question whether cross country really is a team sport, we bring you the 2011 Section XI Championships.

It was the team aspect of cross country that came to the forefront when the No. 6 runners for both the Shoreham-Wading River and the Southold boys teams made the difference in bringing their sides sectional championships on Friday at Sunken Meadow State Park. Drama mixed with competition in the form of a tiebreaker process that cast the spotlight on the No. 6 runners.

Shoreham senior John Lee, running in the Class B race, won his second straight sectional title by covering the 3.1-mile distance in 16 minutes 37.20 seconds. Southold freshman Jon Rempe was the Class D champion, clocking a time of 19:17.50.

But it was the No. 6 runners for both teams, Jack Kelly of Shoreham and Matthew Reilly of Southold, who proved pivotal.

Shoreham had finished tied on points with Harborfields, but earned the title because Kelly (19th in 18:05.00) fared better than Harborfields’ No. 6 runner, Connor Pulvidente, who was 20th in 18:09.70.

The tiebreaking procedure also favored Southold, which posted 28 points, as did The Stony Brook School. Reilly’s 12th place in 21:55.00 was critical, though. It topped the 17th place turned in by Stony Brook’s No. 6 runner, Darryl Baker (22:25.50).

Southold coach Karl Himmelman knew the chase for the Class D team title was close, but it wasn’t until he saw the official tally that he learned his team had prevailed in the tiebreaker.

“That’s incredible,” he said. “I was stressing to the kids for the past few weeks that even though cross country seems like an individual effort, it’s very much a team effort. Today was a perfect example of that. Every single runner on this team made a difference. Every stride made the difference to be county champs.”

Every runner counts.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jon Rempe, a freshman, took first place in the Class D race for Section XI champion Southold.

Shoreham coach Bob Szymanski knows that as well as anyone. Anticipating a tight Class B race, he said he had given his runners nine pep talks in the week preceding the meet. “I couldn’t talk any more,” he said.

Then the Wildcats let their legs do the talking for them, collecting their eighth sectional title in nine years.

Lee led the way, defending his sectional crown on a day that was deemed by some as ideal for running.

“I felt this before,” said Lee, who won five invitational meets and every dual meet he competed in this season. “It’s a good feeling.”

Lee follows in the footsteps of Bobby Andrews, who was the last Shoreham boy to win back-to-back sectional titles in 2007 and 2008.

Sunken Meadow’s famed Cardiac Hill doesn’t seem to bother Lee. He came in third as a sophomore in the sectional meet here before winning the meet last year and going on to finish 15th on another hilly course in the 2010 state meet.

“I’m a hill guy,” he said.

The closest competition Lee faced was from Adam LaFemina of Bayport-Blue Point, who was second in 16:51.90.

The strong showing by Shoreham also featured a third-place finish by Tyler Keys (16:53.30) and an eighth-place showing by Ryan Udvadia (17:17.50). Then, places Nos. 17 through 19 were filled by Shoreham’s Dan Purschke (18:02.30), Evan Purdy (18:04.80) and Kelly.

“These guys run with a lot of heart,” Szymanski said. “This is a team sport. I said the only way we can win this is if everybody does their job.”

Kelly didn’t know he had made the difference in the team scoring until a reporter told him afterward. He said he could not have imagined he would have played such prominent a role in the race’s outcome.

“It wasn’t just me,” said the sophomore, who was humble about his contribution. “It was the whole team. We all ran really strong, and I’m really happy.”

The happiness in the Southold camp was also evident.

“It’s been a great day,” Southold coach Karl Himmelman said. “I think this team deserves this win, well, they’ve earned this win. They really have. It starts back in July as we start to run over the summer, and it all comes down to this. They made the most of it.”

With the exception of a single Pierson runner, all of the top 12 Class D finishers were wearing Southold or Stony Brook uniforms.

“My hat’s off to the Stony Brook coach because they had a great race,” Himmelman said. “They were stride for stride with our boys all the way, and it really in many cases came down to that last couple of hundred meters.”

Four Southold runners were among the top eight, including Griffin Quist (third in 20:05.50), Frank Cone (fifth in 20:27.90) and Ryan Hanrahan (eighth in 21:25.10). Ian Toy of Southold was 11th in 21:44.80.

But it was young Rempe who reached the finish line first. “I didn’t do as good as I thought I would,” he said. “… Coming up Cardiac was really tough.”

Himmelman said Rempe has the potential to be an outstanding runner. “The results speak for themselves,” the coach said. “He has got a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to having three more years of him.”

As sectional champions, both Shoreham and Southold will compete as teams in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships on Nov. 12 at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School.

Two Mattituck runners, senior Corey Zlatniski and junior Casey Grathwohl, will be making the trip upstate because of their performances in the Class C race. Zlatniski finished fourth behind three Port Jefferson runners in 17:42.70, the best time he has ever posted on the course. Grathwohl was three places behind him at 18:16.60.

This is Zlatniski’s second year of qualifying for the state meet, but it didn’t seem to detract from his excitement. “Stoked,” he said. “There’s no other way to explain it. I trained so hard this whole year just to get this.”

Riverhead junior Anthony Galvan had a lot to feel good about as well. Although he didn’t qualify for the state meet, Galvan earned all-county status with a personal-record time of 17:29.60 that brought him 26th place in the Class A race.

It was hard to say who was more excited over the achievement, Galvan or his coach, Patrick Burke.

“You can’t teach heart and soul,” Burke said. “That’s what this runner has.”

Galvan, who didn’t qualify for the sectional meet last year, said being an all-county runner means a lot to him. “It’s something I always wanted,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true.”


09/21/11 11:05am
09/21/2011 11:05 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Anthony Galvan enters the 2011 season as Riverhead's top runner.


That’s the keyword this year for the Riverhead High School boys cross-country team. Commitment can be found in the runners and the coaches.

“The commitment is far greater,” Coach Pat Burke said. “The kids were at summer practices. The leaders, my three top runners, Anthony [Galvan], Travis Wooten and Kevin Williams, these guys are pushing kids now when they walk in practice. When practice is over, they take the initiative to make sure that everyone does another lap.”

And the runners aren’t alone. Burke and his assistant coach, Christy Salerno, can be found running with their athletes during training sessions, encouraging them along the way.

“Coach and I both run,” Burke said. “Whatever we ask the kids to do, we do. So, we did Sunken Meadow [State Park]. We ran with them, and I always tell them, ‘If I beat you, you have a problem.’ ”

The initiative shown by the Blue Waves is a nice starting point.

Galvan, the team’s top runner, is a junior who serves as a captain along with Williams, a senior. Wooten, a sophomore, is back from last year’s squad along with senior Sebastian Jakubiuk and sophomore Matthew Tuthill. All five were scorers last season.

“For me, Anthony Galvan is a special kid and a special runner,” Burke said. “He’s been with me for the introduction to cross-country to him, and he … exemplifies what a leader should do.”

Added to the mix are senior Ed Kruszon and juniors Jonathan Gao and Raymond Lai. The squad has a lot of freshmen (including Jeremy Bornstein, Fabiola Castillo and Nicholas Cunha) and sophomores (including Matthew Cutrone and Joseph Gattuso).

To prepare for the season, the Blue Waves have held practices at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays and Indian Island County Park in Riverhead.

Burke said Riverhead’s goal is to produce some all-league and all-county runners, qualify as a team for the Suffolk County meet, and post a winning team record. But he knows it will not be easy.

“Cross-country is a tough sport,” he said. “I’ve coached different sports, I’ve participated in different sports. It’s you against yourself. It’s the hardest sport you can do. When you run, your objective is to beat the time you had before, not the guy next to you.”


09/15/11 7:08pm
09/15/2011 7:08 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Runners hit the course shortly after the start of the Peconic Invitational at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays.

With his high school boys cross-country team largely unfamiliar with the 3.1-mile course at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays, Shoreham-Wading River Coach Bob Szymanski was more than a little concerned. He was fearful that one of his top runners might make a wrong turn in the woods somewhere along the line during the fourth annual Peconic Invitational, so he warned Evan Purdy to be careful about staying on the course. Purdy tried to ease his coach’s mind, telling him that he had walked the course before.

Then Purdy went out and proved that he knew the fastest route to the finish line.

The Shoreham-Wading River junior finished in first place as the Wildcats took five of the top eight places and won the season-opening invitational under an overcast sky on Thursday. Purdy’s time was 18 minutes 9.90 seconds. His average mile time on the hilly 3.1-mile course was 5:50.8.

“I felt great,” he said following his first win in an invitational meet since he was a freshman. “It’s a good start to the season.”

Following Purdy was teammate Jack Kelly, a sophomore who was second in 18:21.47. Dylan McAllister of Westhampton Beach was third in 18:28.46.

Purdy and Kelly worked as a team and had a sound strategy. They allowed a pair of Westhampton Beach runners to take the lead and set the pace before making their move. “Then, with about a half-mile left we started to pick it up and burned them,” said Purdy.

The Wildcats easily won the team competition with 23 points. The Westhampton Beach Hurricanes were second with 61, and the Riverhead Blue Waves were third with 81. The Mattituck Tuckers finished seventh among the eight teams with 166 points.

What made Shoreham’s team title so impressive was that it came without the team’s top two runners. Szymanski sat John Lee, who was the Suffolk County Class A champion last year, and Tyler Keys. He preferred to rest them both for the Jim Smith Invitational on Saturday at Sunken Meadow State Park.

But Purdy, a three-sport athlete who also swims and plays lacrosse, and Kelly, a converted baseball player, rose to the occasion.

“I was impressed,” Szymanski said. “I knew Evan had a chance to win it.”

Purdy, who had never run this course before, said it is now his favorite. “I like that the hills break it up a lot so it’s not just a straight-out sprint,” he said.

Anthony Galvan, a Riverhead junior, clocked a time of 18:34.40 to bring him fourth place. “For the first race of the season, I’m pretty happy,” he said.

Was his performance a sign that he will have a good season?

“I hope so,” answered Galvan.

Three of the next four finishers wore Shoreham colors — Dan Purschke (18:36.18), Keith Steinbrecher (18:49.59) and Ryan Udvadia (18:49.86). Among that mix was John McMahon of Center Moriches, who was sixth in 18:43.85.

Shoreham’s top two finishers both said they wanted to win for their coach.

“He’s an excellent coach,” Kelly said of Szymanski. “We love him.”

Two other young Shoreham runners who didn’t do badly, either, were sophomores Sean Condron (17th in 19:47.00) and Matt Leunig (18th in 19:57.12).

“It turned out to be a good day for us,” said Szymanski.

Kevin Williams of Riverhead was 10th in 18:53.32, and another Riverheader, Travis Wooten, was 15th in 19:29.35.

The top runner for Mattituck was Corey Zlatniski, who was 12th in 19:07.68, which is two minutes faster than his opening time last season. Casey Grathwohl was the next Mattituck runner to cross the finish line in 20:16.80, bringing him 22nd place.

Starting a new season on an unfamiliar course can be something of a mystery. “It’s almost like walking in blind because you don’t know what you’ll see next, and you don’t know how fast kids have gotten over the summer,” said Zlatniski.

How did he like running at Red Creek Park?

“It’s hard,” Zlatniski said. “It’s really hard. There’s like three consecutive hills that don’t look like much, but they really strain you. It’s a good thing because it’s starting to prepare me for Cardiac [Hill at Sunken Meadow State Park], and when the state race comes up, I’ll be ready.”