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.”