ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead junior Maria Dillingham returns as one of the Blue Waves’ top runners this winter.
For the past two years, the Riverhead girls winter track team has posted the top 4 x 800 relay team in League IV. As the Blue Waves enter a new season, the defending champs aim to keep that title with another goal in mind.
“The girls have a goal of breaking the Riverhead record for the indoor season that was set a few years back,” said coach Justin Cobis.
The Blue Waves return their entire quartet of the relay, featuring senior Rachel Conti, junior Maria Dillingham and sophomores Meghan Van Bommel and Megan Carrick.
“All of them have been there and done that and now want to kind of get their times down and maybe go for that school record,” Cobis said.
All four runners will be key athletes in a number of running events for the Blue Waves, who return a strong core of middle and distance runners.
Conti, who was third in the 1,000 at the league championship last year, will focus on the 600 and 1,000 again, Cobis said. Carrick and Van Bommel could end up running a number of different events and Cobis said as the season goes on, they’ll determine which events to focus on.
Dillingham ran the 600 last year at the league championship and was fourth.
Van Bommel, Carrick and Conti all ran cross country during the fall season. Dillingham was a key player on the field hockey team.
“She loves team sports and for her, winter track is kind of a little something different,” Cobis said.
The Blue Waves do lose several key athletes in field events to basketball. But they do return their pole vaulter, senior Danielle Thomas, who has tied the school record in the event for outdoor and indoor. Thomas will set her sights on setting that record for herself this year.
“She’s always been someone who really pushes herself every year to get a little bit better,” Cobis said. “She’s one of the best female pole vaulters we’ve ever had.”
Cobis said the next goal for her to reach is clearing 9 feet 6 inches.
A newcomer to the team this year is junior Ashley Courts, who Cobis said has a chance to be a solid 300 runner.
Freshman Gabriella Marcucci had a strong cross country season and will likely anchor the 3,000 for Riverhead.
“It’s something she asked for, which is something you never hear,” Cobis said. “That’s the longest race you can run, 15 laps indoors. It’s going to be exciting to see someone who wants to run that.”
The Blue Waves also return senior Madison Blom, who missed last year while away on an exchange program. Blom was an outstanding shot-putter as a sophomore two years ago.
Cobis said he’s excited to have her back on the team.
“She’s coming back with a lot to prove,” Cobis said.
The majority of kids on the winter track team will carry over to the spring season, so Cobis said it’s a good springboard.
With construction ongoing at the high school, the Blue Waves will be limited to how much indoor running they can do in the event of poor weather. It’ll be an obstacle, but one the Blue Waves are ready to overcome.