10/08/14 8:03am
10/08/2014 8:03 AM
The Riverhead girls cross country team, pictured in a meet earlier in the season, improved to 3-1 with a win Tuesday. (Credit: Charles Christ)

The Riverhead girls cross country team, pictured in a meet earlier in the season, improved to 3-1 with a win Tuesday. (Credit: Charles Christ)

Heading into the season this year, Riverhead girls cross country coach Justin Cobis didn’t know how his team might match up in a league that featured plenty of new teams compared to last year. Now as the dual meet season winds down, Cobis has gotten the answer.

The Blue Waves are right there with every team in the league.  (more…)

11/02/13 7:44pm
11/02/2013 7:44 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River eighth-grader Katherine Lee, shown during the division championship, finished second in Class B Saturday in 20:07.37 at Sunken Meadow State Park.


Before the official announcement, the word was conveyed to the Mattituck girls cross-country team that it had indeed won a second straight Suffolk County Class C championship on Saturday. The Tuckers immediately hugged each other with tears of joy streaming down their faces.

Three Tuckers finished among the top eight places and six were among the first 18 in the Section XI Championships at Sunken Meadow State Park. They gave Mattituck 39 points, 6 less than the runner-up, Center Moriches (in cross country, less points are better), and all of them will compete in the state meet that will be held Saturday at Queensbury High School.

Mattituck freshman Melanie Pfennig was the second Class C runner to complete Sunken Meadow State Park’s reconfigured 3.1-mile course in 21 minutes 2.99 seconds. Center Moriches junior Ryleigh Donegan won the race in 20:52.14.

Shortly after, the rest of the Mattituck runners, not a single senior among them, crossed the finish line: Mia Vasile-Cozzo (seventh in 22:54.39), Audrey Hoeg (eighth in 22:55.33), Kaylee Bergen (11th in 23:18.96), Tiana Baker (15th in 24:17.89) and Sascha Rosin (18th in 24:31.67).

Bishop McGann-Mercy sophomore Meg Tuthill qualified for the state meet for the second year in a row by virtue of her fifth-place finish in 22:38.30.

Shoreham-Wading River eighth-grader Katharine Lee, with only several 3.1-mile races under her belt, surprised even herself by coming in second in the Class B race. Lee’s time was 20:07.37, which was second only to the 19:37.41 put up by Miller Place senior Tiana Guevara.

Two other Shoreham-Wading River runners, Kaitlyn Ohrtmann (20:32.52) and Alexandra Hays (20:46.21), finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Ohrtmann qualified for the state meet; Hayes missed qualifying by one place.

The Wildcats (79 points) finished second in the team scoring to runaway champion Miller Place (34).

In the Class D race, Southold senior Katie Connolly took third place to earn a ticket upstate. She posted a time of 23:26.17.


09/13/13 9:00pm
09/13/2013 9:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Kaitlin Ohrtman returns to lead the Wildcats this season.


Like jittery runners at the starting line, straining forward and waiting for the gun to go to go off, releasing a flood of humanity onto the course, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats are anxious for the 2013 girls cross-country season to begin. And why shouldn’t they be? The Wildcats could do some nice things this season.

Last year Shoreham was the League VI runner-up with a 5-1 record, finishing 13th in Suffolk County. And that was with a young team. The Wildcats are still relatively young, but even more importantly, coach Paul Koretzki said, “I think we’re going to be pretty good.”

For starters, Shoreham has an all-county runner in sophomore Kaitlin Ohrtman, who ran a not-too-shabby time of 20 minutes 46 seconds on Sunken Meadow State Park’s 3.1-mile course.

“She looks very good,” Koretzki said. “She has a beautiful stride, she really does.”

In addition, Shoreham can count on freshman Alexandra Hays, junior Maddie Kelly and junior Rose Andrews, all of whom made the all-league second team. Hays finished the season as the team’s No. 2 runner; Kelly was No. 4 and Andrews was No. 5.

Katherine Lee, an eighth-grader, is expected to make an impact in her first season with the team. “She has a nice credential and is going to fit in real well with this team,” said Koretzki, who has seen Lee run a mile in 5:07.

Koretzki considers Shoreham to be among the top 10 teams in the county. As for the league title, that may be asking for too much this year.

“Miller Place, I think, is too strong,” Koretzki said. “Maybe we’re one and a half sprained ankles away.”

This is a year of change for Riverhead (2-3 last season). Not only do the Blue Waves have a new coach, Justin Cobis, but they will be running in a different league, making the jump from League IV to League III.

While Patrick Burke, who previously coached both Riverhead’s boys and girls teams, will continue as the boys coach, Cobis takes over the girls team for his first varsity cross country head coaching job. His team will face a challenge, too, in League III.

“We’re running with some big dogs like Bay Shore and Connetquot,” Cobis said. “It’s going to be a good experience for the girls. They’re going to be running with some of the best teams in the county.”

If nothing else, Cobis believes the tougher competition should help with his runners’ times.

Rachel Conti, a senior, was one of Riverhead’s better runners last year. Her best time at Sunken Meadow State Park was about 22:36.

Cobis is anticipating notable improvement in Conti and sophomores Megan Carrick and Meghan Van Bommel, who are all entering only their second cross-country season.

The team also has varsity veterans in Maurinn Sullivan, Nina Schlosberg, Heather O’Connor and Isabella Marcucci. They are all juniors except for Schlosberg, a senior.

New to the team are freshman Gabriella Marcucci, eighth-grader Grace Dillingham and junior Madison Woolley.

Carrick, Conti, Dillingham and Van Bommel attended the Lakonda Running Camp in Port Jervis, N.Y. this summer, running the hilly landscape every day. “For them to get a full week, running twice a day, running 50-plus miles a week, all on hills, it’s an opportunity that they wouldn’t have out here,” said Cobis.

In addition, some of the Blue Waves trained over the summer at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead, where the team will run in three league meets as well as an invitational this season.

Cobis said he is excited about his team’s potential. He said, “I think we’re going to be right in the middle of League III in Suffolk County, and that’s not a bad place to be.”


11/04/11 6:08pm
11/04/2011 6:08 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold sophomore Colette Steele came in second place in the Class D race, leading the First Settlers to the sectional championship.

Colette Steele was undoubtedly happy enough to have qualified for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association girls cross country championships for the second year in a row. But then the Southold sophomore sounded thrilled upon hearing the news that she will have plenty of company upstate.

Backed by Steele’s individual runner-up performance, Southold won the Class D team title in the Section XI Championships on Friday at Sunken Meadow State Park. Southold finished with 33 points, four less than second-place Stony Brook.

As a sectional champion, Southold will send its entire team to the state meet, which will be held at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School on Nov. 12.

“Oh, awesome,” Steele said. “It’s going to be so much more fun.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Kaylee Bergen, a Mattituck freshman in her first cross country season, is headed to the state meet.

Steele completed the 3.1-mile course in 21 minutes 46.00 seconds. It was her best time at Sunken Meadow, but it left her second to Stony Brook sophomore Margot Rashba, who won in 21:14.00. Still, Steele said running against Rashba helped her.

“Whenever I’m running with Margot, she always pushes me real hard,” Steele said. “I felt good during the race. I was going faster than usual because of Margot, and I ran well.”

The First Settlers also had Shelby Pickerell take fifth in 23:57.50, Katie Connolly finish sixth in 24:24.80, Shannon Guyer come in ninth in 25:22.00 and Megan Moran nab the 11th spot in 27:06.60.

It all helped.

“It came down to every single runner out there,” Southold coach Karl Himmelman said. “It wasn’t a tiebreaker, but it was close. I was telling Megan Moran, my [No. 5] runner, I said, ‘You’re going to make the difference today,’ and she did. That was really the key. I tell the kids all the time, it’s not about who comes in first. Yes, that’s important, but it’s about everybody on the team. The fourth- and fifth-place runners are just as important as one and two.”

Himmelman, the second-year coach whose Southold boys team also won a sectional crown, called it “a very exciting day.”

Mattituck, which was second to Center Moriches in the Class C team scoring, will send two runners to the state meet, freshman Kaylee Bergen and eighth-grader Audrey Hoeg. Both runners are in their first cross country season. Bergen was beaten out by Center Moriches freshman Ryleigh Donegan in a sprint to the finish line and lost by 1.5 seconds. Donegan’s winning time was 20:35.50. Bergen was clocked at 20:37.00. Hoeg took fifth in 22:03.80.

“I knew it was going to be close,” Bergen said. “I really wanted to get first. Sometimes you try really hard, but someone is just a little bit better than you. You just have to accept it.”

Despite feeling a cramp in her midsection near the end of the race, Bergen managed to slice 37 seconds off her previous best time at Sunken Meadow.

“Kaylee really pushed [Donegan] to run well, and she pushed Kaylee,” said Mattituck coach Jean Mahoney.

An eighth-grader, Kaitlyn Ohrtman, was the first Shoreham-Wading River finisher in the Class B race. She came in 11th place in 20:51.90. Her teammate Audrey Kelly was 19th in 21:20.90.

“I felt good,” said Ohrtman, who is in her first high school season after having won all of her races at the middle school level last year.

Ohrtman made the all-county team with her run, putting her among the top 35 runners in the county.

Shoreham-Wading River coach Paul Koretzki said, “She’s going to be a star.”


09/21/11 11:10am
09/21/2011 11:10 AM

Pat Burke couldn’t say what type of a high school girls cross-country team he has. “I don’t know yet,” the Riverhead Blue Waves coach said. “It’s a question mark.”

What Burke does know is that he has a top returning runner in Rachel Harrison-Smith, the team’s senior captain. He knows he has a quality runner in senior Gabriele Escallier, a transfer who was Southampton’s No. 2 runner. And, based on what he has seen in practice, he suspects that freshman Maurinne Sullivan will be a scorer for the Blue Waves.

It’s a young squad. The other team members are senior Rebecca Gray, sophomores Nina Schlosberg, Melissa Villafranco and Brittany Wright, and freshmen Najsha Cuello, Rebecca Edwards, Elise Littlefield and Isabella Marcucci. Gray is recovering from an ankle injury.

“The team has a great dedication,” Harrison-Smith said. “The girls, they just want to do the best they can and stick with everyone. A lot of them are freshmen, and they’re pushing it.”

The coaching staff has been encouraged by the attitude and work ethic of the runners.

“They’ve just been really positive,” Christy Salerno, the team’s assistant coach, said. “They cheer each other on. We all run together, and I think it’s going to be a great season.”


09/15/11 7:29pm
09/15/2011 7:29 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Rachel Harrison-Smith was the first Riverhead finisher in the Peconic Invitational, coming in 23rd place in 24 minutes 55.45 seconds.

To many high school cross-country runners and coaches, the first race of the season is an eye-opener, giving them an idea of what to expect for the season. For Audrey Kelly, though, every race is a fact-finding mission.

“I like to think of every race as a scientific experiment, so I like to try to figure out what’s working and what’s not,” said the Shoreham-Wading River senior.

So, how did Thursday’s experiment turn out?

“I think pretty favorably,” Kelly said. “I think I’m pretty happy with how it worked out.”

Really, there is no reason why she shouldn’t be. Kelly found her way along the 3.1-mile course at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays to finish fifth in the fourth annual Peconic Invitational. She completed the race in 22 minutes 37.05 seconds.

How did she feel about her time?

“It’s not what I was hoping for, but I’m happy that I finished,” she said. “I would like to improve it. I think I can get it down.”

Kelly had some good company among the cluster at the head of the pack. East Hampton senior Ashley West turned in a winning time of 21:22.21. Ryleigh Donegan (21:30.91), Jordan Sanders (22:03.75) and Georgie Nicholes (22:25.18), all of Center Moriches, were the next three finishers.

And then there was Kelly and a Center Moriches runner, Molly Schaefer, who was sixth in 22:45.54. Laura Lee of Shoreham-Wading River came in seventh in 22:48.28.

“My kick at the end was kind of a surprise,” Lee said. “I didn’t know I had that much left, and I caught at least five girls … so I was happy about that.”

Another Shoreham-Wading River girl, Claire Shanklin, was 11th in 23:21.93, one place in front of Mattituck’s Kaylee Bergen (23:22.69).

Rachel Harrison-Smith was the top Riverhead runner, coming in 23rd in 24:55.45.

Center Moriches won the team scoring with 36 points, and Shoreham-Wading River was second with 69. Mattituck placed fifth among the 10 teams with 151 points.

Shoreham-Wading River has a young team. Kelly and Genevieve Kuczewski are the only seniors among the team’s top 10 runners. (Kuczewski posted a time of 25:12.38 and was 29th.)

“I thought they did well,” Shoreham-Wading River Coach Paul Koretzki said of the Wildcats. “They did a lot of miles in the summer.”

And it showed.

Koretzki was pleasantly surprised by the showings made by Shanklin and her twin sister, Laura, who was 18th in 24:31.99.

The Wildcats run their home meets at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park. What was their take on Red Creek Park?

“Nothing compared to our home course, but it’s still a challenge,” Lee said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. The hills at the end were kind of a surprise.”

Bergen of Mattituck was the second freshman to complete the race, her first in the sport.

“I thought I did good,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting all the hills, but I fought through them and I was proud of myself.”

Another Mattituck runner, eighth-grader Audrey Hoeg, also made her debut in the sport. By clocking a time of 24:07.21, she shaved a minute and a half off her last practice time.

“On the bus ride here I was really excited and I tried not to get nervous, but of course, as soon as I stepped on the starting line, my stomach twists,” Hoeg said. “But once you start, you can’t really turn back. You have to finish. You just keep going. You work through the pain and you just finish, and it feels great at the end.”