09/10/14 5:00pm
09/10/2014 5:00 PM
The Shoreham-Wading RIver girls cross country team, led by the trio of (from left) Kaitlyn Ohrtman, Alexandra Hays and Katherine Lee, will battle Miller Place and Bayport-Blue Point for the league and county titles. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

The Shoreham-Wading RIver girls cross country team, led by the trio of (from left) Kaitlyn Ohrtman, Alexandra Hays and Katherine Lee, will battle Miller Place and Bayport-Blue Point for the league and county titles. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

It’s been six seasons since the last time Shoreham-Wading River won a county championship in girls cross country. For most teams, such a drought would hardly seem abnormal. But for Shoreham, a program that has contended for titles year after year, six years can seem like a long time.

There are no guarantees that streak will snap this year. But with a team that returns nearly its entire roster from a year ago, the Wildcats appear poised to make a run at the Class B title.  (more…)

11/09/13 6:37pm
11/09/2013 6:37 PM

NEW YORK STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia ran a season-best 15 minutes, 19.3 seconds to finish second in the Class B New York State Championship race Saturday morning at Queensbury High School.

Udvadia helped lead the Wildcats to a fifth-place finish as a team. Udvadia, who was first among the team scorers, finished three seconds behind T.J. Hornberger of Lake Shore.

Shoreham’s top five all runners all posted sub-17 times. Junior Matt Gladysz finished second for Shoreham and 17th in team scoring in 16:21.4, followed by seniors Connor McAlary (16:30.7), Keith Steinbrecher (16:42.9) and Jack Kelly (16:45.8).

Shoreham eighth-grader Katherine Lee finished 13th overall in the girls Class B race in 18:32.7. Her teammate, sophomore Kaitlyn Ohrtman, was 29th overall in 18:53.7. They were the only girls for Shoreham to qualify for the state meet.

View the complete results here.

11/07/13 5:00pm
11/07/2013 5:00 PM

RIVERHEAD COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead boys cross country coach Patrick Burke was named the Section XI Coach of the Year after guiding the Blue Waves to their first league title since 1998.

After helping guide the Riverhead boys cross country team to its first league title in 15 years, coach Patrick Burke was honored as the Section XI cross country Coach of the Year. The Blue Waves won 15-47 in their final dual meet against Half Hollow Hills West Oct. 15 to finish 5-0 in League IV.

It was their first league title since 1998.

The Blue Waves went on to compete in the Section XI Division Championship and finished fifth in Division II. In the Section XI State Qualifier Nov. 1 at Sunken Meadow State Park, senior Joseph Gattusso ran the top time for Riverhead in 19 minutes, 38.71 seconds.

“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,” Burke said after the Blue Waves beat Hills West.

11/01/13 11:06am
11/01/2013 11:06 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia will lead the Wildcats in the state qualifier race tomorrow after it was postponed a day.

The cross country Section XI State Qualifier has been pushed back a day due to inclement weather in the area. The meet at Sunken Meadow State Park will start at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The race times are as follows:

Boys Class A: 2 p.m.
Girls Class A: 2:30 p.m.
Boys Class B: 3 p.m.
Girls Class B: 3:25 p.m.
Boys Class C/D: 3:55 p.m.
Girls Class C/D: 4:2o p.m.

The Shoreham-Wading River boys are the defending Class B champions. The League IV champion Riverhead boys will run in the Class A race. The Shoreham girls will run in the Class B race and the McGann-Mercy girls will run in the Class C/D race. Four Mercy boys will run in the C/D race as well.

Last year, Hurricane Sandy forced the state qualifier to race to be canceled entirely. The state qualifiers were determined based on the division championship race.

The state championship is Nov. 9 at Queensbury High School.

10/23/13 12:00pm
10/23/2013 12:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats were the Division III champions and second overall in the county at Tuesday’s division race. Coach Bob Szymanski joined players (from left) Ryan Udvadia, Jack Kelly, Connor McAlary, Matt Gladysz, Keith Steinbrecher, Ryan Groskopf and Michael Godfrey afterward.

SECTION XI DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS

Runners often refer to the final stretch of a race as “the kick.” In Suffolk County, few — if any — runners have a better “kick” than Shoreham-Wading River’s Ryan Udvadia.

Whether in a cross country race or track & field, Udvadia is known for his ability to close out races with perfect efficiency. As Tuesday afternoon’s Section XI Division Championship race unfolded at Sunken Meadow State Park in what was going to be the toughest race for Udvadia so far this season, he knew it would come down the “kick.”

The race, which featured the top runners from across the county, ultimately came down to Udvadia and Northport’s Mike Branigan.

Udvadia was aiming to keep his perfect record intact this season, but on this day, Branigan’s “kick” outdid Udvadia, who settled for second place in 16 minutes 16.65 seconds. Branigan finished four seconds ahead of him at 16:12.61.

“Today I had a kick, but it wasn’t as strong as it normally would be,” Udvadia said. “Branigan just had a stronger kick.”

It wasn’t all bad for Udvadia, who still finished first among Division III runners. And the Wildcats won the Division III team title, edging out East Hampton, 41-94.

The championship race features the top two teams from each league plus four at-large teams. From that race, an overall winner is determined, as well as winners for four divisions, which are based on school enrollments. The Wildcats finished second overall behind Northport to top their third place finish from a year ago.

Udvadia said he tried to take the lead from Branigan going up the infamous cardiac hill.

“I wasn’t getting as big of a lead, so I decided to just hold back and let it come down to a kick,” he said.

Udvadia’s time was his fastest at Sunken Meadow this year, but well off his previous bests. That’s due in large part to the different configuration of the 3.1-mile course, which some coaches believed was slightly longer, extending some times by as much as 40 seconds.

Last fall’s hurricane wreaked havoc on much of the course, which had to be altered this season until a new bridge could be completed in one spot. Coaches were hopeful that the old course could be ready for the state qualifier race Nov. 1.

It was the second straight year the division race came down to Udvadia and Branigan. Last year Branigan edged Udvadia by less than a second as both runners clocked in under 16 minutes.

“It is disappointing when you lose your first meet,” Udvadia said. “But I just got to look forward to next week.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Travis Wooten ran the top time for the Blue Waves.

Connor McAlray (17:26.67), Matt Gladysz (17:30.55) Keith Steinbrecher (17:46.54) and Jack Kelly (17:56.45) rounded out the top five for Shoreham, which clinched its 11th straight league title last week in a dual meet win.

“These guys never do bad,” Udvadia said. “They always have a good day.”

The Wildcats finished first as a team in the Varsity 1 race at the Brown Invitational Saturday in Rhode Island behind Udvadia’s first-place time of 15:34.6. That was his best time this year. Steinbrecher, Gladysz and McAlary finished ninth-11th.

The Riverhead boys, fresh off their first league title in 15 years, ran in the championship race Tuesday and finished fifth as a team in Division II.

“I think we kind of gave everything we had to get that title,” said Riverhead coach Patrick Burke.

Senior Travis Wooten, who posted Riverhead’s top time Tuesday in 18:37.44, said it was a challenge as a team to rise up to another level in this race after achieving the goal they so adamantly sought.

“It’s a mental thing,” he said. “We had a goal in mind to be league champions. We achieved that goal and now we also have to say we want to do more than that. It’s hard to do that when we told ourselves all season, ‘let’s win dual meets, let’s win the league.’ ”

The next finishers behind Wooten for Riverhead were: Nick Cunha (18:46.84), Joseph Gattusso (19:22.89) Luke Coulter (19:35.62) and Eric Cunha (19:42.41).

The Blue Waves began the race lined up all the way toward the left of the starting line, which added another challenge. The  Riverhead runners needed to run at an angle first to cut down toward the main course. The teams are lined up based on seedings.

“We knew we had to go out a little quick,” Wooten said. “The problem is if you got out fast for too long than you’re stuck with that lactic acid buildup for the rest of the race and it makes the race miserable.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River eighth grader Katherine Lee was seventh overall in the championship race Tuesday.

In the girls’ championship race, Shoreham-Wading River eighth-grader Katherine Lee finished seventh overall in 20:21.48. She helped lead the short-handed Wildcats to a fifth-place finish in Division III.

The Wildcats were without three regular runners due to sickness and injury. Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki said he didn’t want to push the kids in this race in hopes of having them fresh for the state qualifier.

Lee finished first at the Brown Invitational Saturday in the Varsity 1 race in 18:37.2.

“She’s very good,” Koretzki said.

Alexandra Hays finished second for Shoreham in 21:15.47.

The Riverhead girls ran in the team qualifier race Tuesday. Freshman Gabriella Marcucci posted the top time for the Blue Waves in 23:00.03.

“She’s come from like our fifth strongest runner to now probably our strongest runner for the future,” said Riverhead coach Justin Cobis.

Sophomores Meghan Van Bommel (23:44.54) and Megan Carrick (23:48.12) were next for the Blue Waves. Eighth-grader Grace Dillingham ran 24:18.55.

McGann-Mercy sophomore Meg Tuthill ran the fastest time for the Monarchs in the team qualifier race in 22:25.71. She was 17th overall in the race. For the boys, senior Matt Abazis ran 19:54.61 for the Monarchs’ top finish.

joew@timesreview.com

09/25/13 5:09pm
09/25/2013 5:09 PM

BRITNEY NAPPE COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead senior Rachel Conti finished first for the Blue Waves Tuesday in a dual meet against Walt Whitman.

The Riverhead girls cross country team picked up its first league win Tuesday afternoon by defeating Walt Whitman, 24-33. Riverhead senior Rachel Conti ran the 5K course at Indian Island in 22 minutes, 23 seconds to finish second in the race and first for the Blue Waves.

She was followed by sophomores Meghan Van Bommel (22:36) and Megan Carrick (22:41) who were third and fourth in the race.

The next three scorers for Riverhead were freshman Gabrielle Marcucci (23:34), eighth-grader Grace Dillingham (24:55) and junior Maurinne Sullivan (24:29).

The Blue Waves improved to 1-1 in League III. The girls will compete in the Suffolk Coaches Invitational Saturday at Sunken Meadow State Park.

12/11/12 2:08pm
12/11/2012 2:08 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Cliff Clark, No. 301,competing at the highest level in the 1972 Olympic Trials 5000 Meters with Steve Prefontaine, No. 229, Tracy Smith, No. 398, and Gerry Lindgren in the striped shirt.

When I think about cross country or 10K races or anything to do with sports on Shelter Island, my mind always turns toward Clifford Clark.

Back in the ‘60s, when running wasn’t popular, you could always see a young Cliff jogging around the island. I remembered him as a basketball and baseball player in high school and when college came for him, he became a runner.

Back then if you noticed someone walking or running along the street you would always stop and ask if they needed a ride, but today, you know better. Back in the late 60’s I got the bug when I read a book that I think did more for walking and running than any other. Written by Dr. Kenneth Cooper (an M.D. and U.S. Air Force colonel) and published 1968, it and was simply titled “Aerobics.” Dr. Cooper made running sound both fun and simple. His “Bedrock Principle # 1” declares that almost everyone should engage in regular, but moderate aerobic exercise. Cooper wrote: “The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence demonstrates conclusively that abandoning a sedentary lifestyle and following a MODERATE exercise routine will greatly reduce your risk of dying from all causes — and enhances your chance of living a longer, more active life.”

That was enough for me.

So this week, when I met with Cliff Clark, I couldn’t help notice throughout the entire conversation the values that make Cliff who he is. Namely, that it’s important to give back to the sport. Cliff is all about passing on his knowledge to anyone who wants to better themselves. Although a championship runner himself, like everyone, he had his idols. One was Dr. Clark, his college coach from Harding College, and the other, his father. Unfortunately, Dr. Clark, died at an early age, but not before passing on his message to Cliff about helping others. After the doctor’s passing, it was Cliff who took on the role of student coach at Harding College. His other idol, his father, he felt was a master teacher always ready to share his expertise with anyone.

When I mentioned to Cliff my knowledge of Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s work and how he inspired me to run and later walk for over 20 years, Cliff informed me that he knew him. They were both in the Air Force and the doctor actually confided in Clark and asked for his help and thoughts while writing his famous book.

During our conversation, I couldn’t help noticing how uncomfortable Cliff was that he was getting credit without giving credit. But let’s get real; back in 1967 when no one was thinking of running, he started a kids’ running group and a two-mile race. Interestingly, the winner of that first run was Justin Gibbons of Southampton, and 13 years later the first 10K winner was also the same Justin Gibbons. He coached the school team for 18 years starting in 1976 and produced star runners like Janelle Kraus, Alexis Hamblet and Toby Green.

Together with John Strode, and Jack Fath and Cliff put together the first 10K run with all three believing the purpose was to give back to the sport. Even though Cliff is currently out of the limelight of the 10K, the success of this race has put Shelter Island on the map for the last 30 years. For the past seven years this race has been in the capable hands of Mary Ellen Adipietro as director. Although many islanders work the race, Cliff said I must give credit to a few people who are always there to make things better, such as James Eklund, Chuck Kraus and Jackie Tuttle.

Over the last few years things were starting to slow down a bit for Shelter Island runners. New school superintendent Dr. Michael Hynes, a man that believes strongly in lifetime sports and a running program, decided to become proactive. So this past August, Toby Green started and is coaching the Shelter Island running club. At the present time they have 15 kids that are involved three days a week after school on Saturdays.

Stay involved and don’t let this fail because in the long run, this program will build both character and a healthy body in all of us.

12/10/12 4:34pm
12/10/2012 4:34 PM

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

Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia was honored as Suffolk County’s top runner at the cross country awards dinner following a tumultuous end of the season for everyone involved in the sport.

Udvadia became the third Shoreham runner to win the award, joining Dion Telting and Bobby Andrews in the exclusive club.

Udvadia ran 15 minutes, 57.1 seconds at the Division Championship in late October in one of the best races at Sunken Meadow State Park in years. Mike Branigan of Northport narrowly edged him for the victory.

Based on his body of work over the season, which included six invitational victories, Udvadia was selected over Branigan as the top runner.

At the state championship Udvadia was ninth overall in 16:08.8 among Class B runners.

He was one of four players to earn all-county honors along with Joe Whelan, Matt Gladysz and Dan Purschke.

The Wildcats won their 10th straight league title during the season and the county crown for the eighth time in the last 10 years. The two years they didn’t win they were second.

The end of the cross country season was thrown into disarray by Hurricane Sandy. The state qualifier meet had to be cancelled and the results from the divisions were used to determine which runners advanced.

Then, at the state championship, Southold freshman Ronan Guyer slipped and hit his chest on the ground during a practice run. He went into cardiac arrest and then into a coma at a Buffalo hospital. He later died from his injuries at the age of 14.

Shoreham coach Bob Szymanski looked over the Southold runners at the state meet while coach Karl Himmelmann stayed at the hospital.

joew@timesreview.com