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.

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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.

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11/07/12 8:00pm
11/07/2012 8:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Dan Purschke leads the Wildcats into the state championship this weekend.

As runners from across Suffolk County ran the 3.1-mile course at Sunken Meadow State Park Oct. 23, little did they know that a trip to the state championship was on the line.

Following Hurricane Sandy, the Section XI State Qualifier Nov. 2 at Sunken Meadow had to be postponed to Wednesday. Poor weather forced that to be canceled as a nor’easter ripped through the area.

So the qualifier had to be canceled as time ran out to hold the race before the state championship this weekend at Elma Meadows Park.

The only option left was to take the results from the division championship Oct. 23 to determine which teams would win the county titles.

That was good news for Shoreham-Wading River, the Division IV champs who are now headed to the state meet as Class B champions.

Led by junior Ryan Udvadia, who ran a superb time of 15 minutes 57.10 seconds, the Wildcats edged Bayport for the division title. The Phantoms were the team the Wildcats would have needed to beat again to win the county title in Class B.

The Wildcats will send their top seven runners to states, including senior Dan Purschke, sophomore Matt Gladysz, senior Joe Whelan, junior Keith Steinbrecher, senior Evan Purdy and junior Connor McAlary.

It’s the second straight year the Wildcats won the county title. Last year it took a tiebreaker to beat Harborfields.

McGann-Mercy will send one runner to the state meet. Junior Matt Abazis, who ran 18:28.4, also qualified for the state meet. The top five runners in each classification qualify in addition to the winning team, which sends seven runners. Mercy is a Class C school in cross country.

The Mattituck girls won the Class C county title for the first time since 2006 and the Tuckers will send seven runners to the state meet. For sophomore Kaylee Bergen and freshman Audrey Hoeg, it’ll be the second straight year running at states.

Bergen posted the top time for Mattituck at the division championship in 20:11.9, which was 15th fastest among all runners in the county. She was first in Division IV.

Junior Tara Gatz, eighth-grader Melanie Pfenning, freshman Mia Vasile-Cozzo, senior Sara Paparatto and Hallie Kujawski make up the rest of the Tuckers’ state-bound lineup.

The Southold boys also won the county crown in Class D. Sophomore Jonathan Rempe anchored Southold’s team at the division meet when he ran 18:38.10. He’ll be joined at the state meet by sophomore Gus Rymer, eighth-grader Owen Klipstein, sophomore Christopher Buono, junior Ian Toy, freshman Ronan Guyer and senior John Tomici.

Mercy will send two girls to the championship in Class C: Delina Auciello and Meg Tuthill. Auciello ran 20:32 at the division championship and Tuthill ran 21:05.5.

Southold, which won Class D last year, will send three girls to states: juniors Katie Connolly, Shannon Guyer and Justine Kundmueller.

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11/03/12 10:09am
11/03/2012 10:09 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead field hockey team, including Danielle Napoli, will get a chance to play its playoff game Wednesday.

The high school sports season will resume Wednesday after more than a week off following Hurricane Sandy.

Here are the games scheduled for local teams:


Saturday, Nov. 10

The Riverhead Blue Waves, seeded No. 2 in Division II, will host No. 7 Walt Whitman at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field at 2 p.m. Shoreham-Wading River, seeded No. 3 in Division IV, will host The Stony Brook School also at 2 p.m. And No. 5 McGann-Mercy in Division IV will play a 2 p.m. game at No. 4 Hampton Bays.

The football playoffs were all pushed back one week, so the county championships will be held over Thanksgiving weekend. The Long Island championships will now be pushed back into December.

Field Hockey

Wednesday, Nov. 7

The Riverhead girls, seeded 10th in Class A, will travel to No. 7 Centereach for a 2 p.m. game. The winner plays the next day at No. 2 East Islip. There’s one day off after the quarterfinals and then the semis and finals are on consecutive days.

No. 4 Shoreham-Wading River in Class B will host No. 5 Harborfields at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The winner plays at No. 1 Miller Place Friday.

Boys Soccer

Thursday, Nov. 8

Shoreham-Wading River, seeded 6th in Class B, will travel to No. 3 Eastport-South Manor at 2 p.m. The winner plays the next day against No. 2 East Hampton or No. 7 Miller Place.

Cross Country

Update (12:40 p.m.): The Section XI state qualifier meet is back at Sunken Meadow now  at 1 p.m. Wednesday as the park has been reopened. It had been changed to Sachem East High School, as this post originally stated earlier.

The top 10 teams in each class compete. If the meet gets canceled because of bad weather that may come in Wednesday, there will be no makeup. Results from the division championship will advance teams into the state meet.

Other sections around New York are in a similar situation.

11/01/12 12:26pm
11/01/2012 12:26 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead football team will not be starting the playoffs Saturday as playoff games across Suffolk County were postponed.

All high school sports in Suffolk County have been postponed through Saturday  — including football playoffs that were scheduled to begin Friday night, Section XI announced Thursday morning.

Exact dates for games are still to be determined and more information will be available Friday.

Many schools across the county are closed through the end of the week, making it nearly impossible to coordinate scheduling of any games. The first playoff games were originally to begin last Monday with field hockey. Riverhead was scheduled to play at Centereach as Hurricane Sandy pounded the east coast.

The cross country county championship originally scheduled for Friday may have to be moved to a different location. Sunken Meadow State Park may not be accessible due to many down trees, according to an e-mail sent by Tony Toro, the cross country girls coordinator. Section XI will determine the date and location.

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10/24/12 7:00am
10/24/2012 7:00 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTOS | Mercy junior Delina Auciello (left) and freshman Meg Tuthill finished third and fifth in the team qualifier race Tuesday at Sunken Meadow.

Delina Auciello and many of her track teammates at McGann-Mercy were already working out and training in late August. They figured they were preparing for the winter track season, which was still more than three months away.

Only a few weeks before the start of the school year did they learn that Mercy had brought back a cross country program.

“We were running over the summer,” Auciello said. “Our coach gave us schedules from track. But we found out the last few weeks and everyone was like, Yeah!”

The newest team on the block has been turning heads all year, especially Auciello, a junior running her first season of cross country. At the Section XI Division Championship Tuesday, Auciello ran an impressive time of 20 minutes 32 seconds over the five-kilometer course at Sunken Meadow State Park.

The Monarchs ran in the team qualifier race (the top two teams in each league ran in the championship race) and Auciello finished third out of 179 runners. Her time would have been good enough for third place in Division IV of the championship race.

It was her best time by more than 25 seconds.

“My coach really wanted me to win, but I’m fine with third place,” Auciello said. “I’m so happy about what I did. By the end of the season I want to at least get down to 19’s.”

Auciello began the season running in the mid-21’s.

“I PR’d at every race, which is all I could ask for,” she said.

Her teammate, freshman Meg Tuthill, wasn’t far behind. She finished fifth in the team qualifier race in 21:05.5.

An outstanding distance runner during the track season last year, Tuthill also got her first taste of cross country this fall.

“I was really excited,” Tuthill said about the chance to run cross country. “I just knew it would make me a better runner for track.”

Her times have improved by about two minutes from the beginning of the season, she said. One of the biggest challenges she faced was learning how to run downhill.

“I’m afraid I’m going to fall so I slow myself down,” she said.

Running uphill, however, was less of an issue. “I think I like running uphill,” she said, a statement rarely before uttered in human history.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Mercy senior Patrick Derenze ran a personal best time Tuesday of 19:45.2.

Junior Jen Perugi ran 24:22.6 and senior Courtney Walsh ran 25:58.4.

On the boys side junior Matt Abazis posted the top time for Mercy in 18:28.4. He finished 34th overall in the team qualifier race.

Abazis said he started cross country to help train for track. But he found cross country might be his calling.

“After doing the season I think this became my more prominent sport,” he said.

All the runners said a big part of the success this season was the closeness between everyone. Neither the boys or girls had many runners, but they trained together and formed a close bond.

“I don’t know what it is about cross country, but I feel like the team was a lost closer than the track season,” Abazis said.

Auciello said: “We’re so small, but we’re so close.”

Abazis noted how while the small team has brought them together, the lack of depth has also been their biggest weakness.

“It’s a weird tradeoff,” he said.

Mercy senior Patrick Derenze ran the second-fastest time for the boys with a personal best of 19:45.2. Like many other runners, he joined cross country as a means to train for track.

“I want to run in college, so I was trying to build for my track performance later in the year,” he said.

Mercy coach Tricia Nunez said a goal this season was to teach the kids to run their own race.

“Now it’s toward the end of the season and I think they have a good feel for the course,” she said. “It’s like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it.”

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10/23/12 6:31pm
10/23/2012 6:31 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia (454) at the front of the pack for the start of Tuesday’s championship race at Sunken Meadow State Park.

Shoreham-Wading River coach Bob Szymanski has seen just about everything during his long tenure as the boys cross country coach.

But two sub-16 minute times at Sunken Meadow State Park?

Well, that’s about a once-a-decade kind of achievement.

Shoreham junior Ryan Udvadia ran personal record time of 15 minutes 57.1 seconds Tuesday afternoon at the Section XI Division Championship. It was a superb time that landed him the top spot in Division IV by more than a minute.

Amazingly, however, it still wasn’t the best time of the day.

Northport sophomore Mike Branigan narrowly edged Udvadia for the best time by running 15:56.3. Udvadia held a slight lead on Branigan as they raced down the final straightaway before Branigan found an extra kick with about 20 meters to go.

“I got near the finish and I started to kick,” Udvadia said. “I thought I had him.”

While Udvadia was disappointed in finishing second overall, Szymanski was thrilled to see him run such a fast time, even if it meant second place.

“This is one of the great races at Sunken Meadow,” Szymanski said.

In almost any other year, Udvadia would have been a winner by a wide margin. Only three runners have ran under 16 minutes at a division meet at Sunken Meadow since 1998 before Tuesday.

In 2004 two runners both ran under 16 minutes at the division championship when Kevin Tschirhart of Northport clocked in at 15:46.6 and Ryan Sheridan of Walt Whitman followed in 15:47.0.

The championship race at Sunken Meadow features the top two teams from each league. As the runners come across, the results are divided into four divisions. So the Wildcats ended up winning Division IV for the fifth time in the last six years.

It came down to Shoreham and Bayport-Blue Point. The Phantoms had the second and third runners behind Udvadia. But the Wildcats grabbed fourth and fifth behind senior Dan Purschke (17:22.4) and sophomore Matt Gladysz (17:28.9). Senior Joe Whelan (17:39.8) and junior Keith Steinbrecher (17:55.7) rounded out the top five for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats tallied 28 points to Bayport’s 37.

Shoreham narrowly edged Bayport in the first dual meet of the season, which propelled the Wildcats to an undefeated League VII title. Bayport will again be the team that stands in the way of the Wildcats winning the Class B county title, which would allow the entire team to head to the state championship.

Szymanski said the way Shoreham beat Bayport Tuesday, “it could psyche them out,” come the county championship. Although in that race, it’ll be a different makeup.

“You won’t see all these bodies in front,” Szymanski said, noting that it’ll basically be the two teams racing against each other in what will be the Class B-C-D championship.

Szymanski said Udvadia is a great hill runner, which makes Sunken Meadow an ideal course for him with its infamous ‘cardiac’ hill.

“He’s probably the best hill runner here,” Szymanski said. “If you saw the race, you don’t see him most of the time. He’s fourth, fifth. So when he came out someone said, ‘Look, it’s Udvadia!’ And I said I told you, he’ll be there, no worse than third.”

Branigan is a standout 1,600-meter runner in track, giving him better leg speed than Udvadia.

Szymanski said the only mistake Udvadia made was giving Branigan too much room going into the cardiac hill.

“You made up 25 meters and he beat you by a second,” Szymanski told him. “If you’re 10 yards closer, you win that race.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Anthony Galvan ran 17:13.7 to finish sixth in Division II Tuesday.

Riverhead senior Anthony Galvan ran a personal best time of 17:13.7 to finish in sixth place in Division II. He’ll get a chance to compete next week at the state qualifier.

Coming into the race Galvan hoped to break 17 minutes. But he was still happy to shave two seconds off his previous best.

“My last PR before this was 17:29 and then I dropped it to 17:15 a week ago,” he said. “I knew if I wanted to get into guaranteed states I’d have to do it again by 15 [seconds]. But at least I PR’d and I’m into all-league, all-county.”

Riverhead coach Patrick Burke said Galvan has been improving his time every race since his sophomore season.

“I’m really proud of him,” Burke said. “As a coach he’s everything you ever wanted. I just feel for him that he didn’t meet his goal in his mind. If you PR every single race, you can’t do more than that.”

Galvan has been a two-time captain for the Blue Waves, who went 3-2 in League IV dual meets putting them in a three-way tie for second place.

In a competitive championship race that features the top runners in the county, it can create a crowded race. Galvan said he prefers it that way.

“You always have someone to stick next to you,” he said. “Someone’s always trying to pass you. You just latch on to someone and you’ll be fine.”

Galvan started the race near several Walt Whitman runners, who he met during the summer at a camp.

“I tried to stick with them, but I know they’re a lot better than me,” he said. “So I’m like, if I lose them, I lose them. But at least I have them in sight.”

Riverhead junior Joseph Gattuso ran the next fastest time for the Blue Waves in 19:02.9. He was 21st overall in Division II.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River freshman Kaitlyn Ohrtman ran 20:32.5 in the championship race Tuesday.

The Shoreham-Wading River girls competed in the team championship race and freshman Kaitlyn Ohrtman posted the top time in 20:32.5 for 10th in Division III.

Four of Shoreham’s top five runners were in 10th grade or younger. Eighth-grader Ali Hays ran 21:32.3 and sophomore Maddy Kelly ran 21:59.0, which was the first time she cracked 22 minutes, Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki said.

The Wildcats had a strong league season, going 4-1 and losing only to Miller Place, the Division III champion.

Looking ahead to the state qualifier, Ohrtman will have the best chance to qualify for the state meet. The top five in each class go the states in addition to the winning team.

“She’s probably sitting fifth, sixth now in the B’s,” Koretzki said.

The Riverhead girls ran in the team qualifier race. Junior Rachel Conti posted the top time in 22:36. She was 28th overall in a race of 179 runners.

“She’s a top athlete in track and this is her first year [running cross country],” Burke said. “I told her it’s a mental game. They don’t understand that cross country is a completely different animal.”

The Blue Waves have a young team, which could be primed for big things next year, Burke said.

“We’re going to be focused next year on putting the girls team on the map,” he said. “I’ve said that before, but I really feel we finally have a commitment.”

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