12/17/14 5:00pm
12/17/2014 5:00 PM
Riverhead's Ashley Courts will compete in the jumping events this year. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Riverhead’s Ashley Courts will compete in the jumping events this year. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

For the past few years, the Riverhead track coaches have tried to nudge Ra’Shae Smith to come out for the winter track team. Last spring, competing during the outdoor track season, Smith showed promise in the shot put.

The Blue Waves had one of the top shot putters in the county last year in Madison Blom. And Smith got the chance to be the understudy to Blom.

Now as a senior, Smith agreed to join the winter track team and commit to the sport, which is good news for Riverhead.

“She’s just beginning to learn the technique and the basic skills that are involved in the sport,” said Riverhead coach Justin Cobis. “When she starts getting confident and getting everything in coordination, that’s going to be fun to watch.”

In the Blue Waves’ first crossover meet, Smith threw 33 feet 1 1/4 inch to finish in third place. To open the season throwing in the 33-foot range already puts her in the top 10 in the county, Cobis said.

And Smith has hardly reached her ceiling.

“If you saw her throw that hit 33 feet, it looked ugly,” Cobis said. “Once she gets her lower body in sync with her upper body, I would see her as one of the tops in the county.”

The Blue Waves carry over nearly the entire cross country roster into the winter track season, which should put them in good position to have strong middle distance and distance runners.

Seventh-grader Megan Kielbasa, who had a terrific cross country season, has the potential to be a big contributor right away. She ran the 3,000 in the team’s first two crossover meets. She improved her time by nine seconds from one meet to the next, finishing in 11 minutes 23.07 seconds in the most recent meet Saturday at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood.

“She’s learning as she goes,” Cobis said. “When your introduction to winter track is 15 laps, that’s a trial by fire.”

After completing her 15th lap in the first 3,000, Kielbasa kept on running, unaware she had finished the race.

“She’s like a little Energizer Bunny,” Cobis said.

Senior Rachel Clement and junior Megan Carrick will provide leadership and expertise in a number of events for Riverhead. Clement is a versatile athlete who can contribute in an array of field events and on the track. Carrick is a distance runner. Junior Meghan Van Bommel is another veteran to the track who will run some of the shorter events this year. She’ll likely run mostly the 300, 600 and 4 x 400 relay.

The X-factor for Riverhead is Ashley Courts, Cobis said.

“She’s an extremely gifted athlete,” Cobis said.

Courts has the potential to long jump beyond 17 feet and could be among the tops in the county. Cobis said Courts just hasn’t had a breakout meet yet to gain the confidence she needs.

“If we can get her consistent in her craft, she can really surprise everybody,” Cobis said.

 

The strength of the Shoreham-Wading River winter track team is undoubtedly on the track with some of the middle distance and distance runners. The Wildcats carry over six of the top seven runners from the county champion cross country team.

The weakness lies in the field events.

“We’re going to try to build that up,” said Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki. “But I don’t know where that’s going to go.”

The Wildcats have depth on the track, though, including with sprinters. Two soccer players who were speedsters during the fall on the county championship soccer team will run track this winter in Alex Kuhnle and Megan Kelly, who was fifth at the league championships last year in the 55-meter dash.

“We have a lot of soccer players and they’re in shape, really good,” Koretzki said.

Emily Sopko is one of those soccer players who can run shorter races like the 300.

The top runner from cross country, state champion Katherine Lee, a freshman, will transition to track now. When asked which events Lee will run, Koretzki said “I have no idea.”

As a great distance runner in cross country, the 3,000 might seem an ideal fit. But the Wildcats already have two strong 3,000 runners in junior Kaitlyn Ohrtman and sophomore Alexandra Hays. Two years ago, they went one-two in the 3,000 at the league championships.

Lee may likely slide down to the 1,500. She’ll start off running some shorter races like the 600 and 1,000.

Hays is a welcome addition to the team this year after she played basketball last year. As an eighth-grader she ran winter track on varsity, but the way the schedule worked on the middle school team, she still was able to play basketball. Now that she’s in high school, the seasons conflict.

“That’s a big addition because it gives me more flexibility,” Koretzki said.

Senior Courtney Ricca is a strong hurdler and sophomore Payton Capes-Davis is a gymnast who can do a number of events, including the pole vault. Koretzki said she has the potential to be a triple jumper. Eighth-graders Francesca Lilly and Lexie Smith provide more depth for Shoreham in the distance events.

 

The McGann-Mercy winter track team lost a few key contributors from last year’s squad, but should be in good position for a strong season this year. Junior Meg Tuthill, who won a medal last year as part of the medley relay team at the state championships, returns as one of the top distance runners for the Monarchs.

Tuthill can run anywhere from the 600 to 3,000. Last year she finished fourth at the state qualifier meet in the 1,000 to earn a trip to the state meet.

This year, her goal is to get back to states, but this time, in an individual event.

“It’s something she has her eyes on,” said Mercy coach Collin Zeffer.

The Monarchs return sophomore Maddie Joinnides, who was sixth in the 300 at last year’s league championships. Sophomore Kaitlyn Butterfield was a fifth-place finisher in the 1,000 a year ago and she has versatility to run a number of different events on the track. Sophomore Devyn O’Brien is another strong runner.

The Monarchs are mostly a young team again this year. The one senior on the team is Adafih Blackburn, who’s a sprinter.

joew@timesreview.com

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…)

12/11/13 5:00pm
12/11/2013 5:00 PM

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.

joew@timesreview.com

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.

PREVIEW

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.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

02/23/13 3:58am
02/23/2013 3:58 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Laura Lee ran the 600 meters in 1 minute 40.32 seconds to finish fifth.

Laura Lee had an inkling that this was going to be a good day for her. And why not? With a fast track and a high level of competition, the conditions were ripe for a personal record, or pr in runners’ shorthand.

“I definitely knew it was a possibility,” she said.

Possibility became reality for Lee when the Shoreham-Wading River senior ran the 600 meters faster than she ever had before, in 1 minute 40.32 seconds. That left her in fifth place in the Long Island Elite Track Invitational at St. Anthony’s High School on Friday. She followed Bishop Kellenberg’s Jazmine Fray (1:36.52), Island Trees’ Alexa Dolgos (1:38.33), Bay Shore’s Jacqueline Anderson (1:39.98) and Sacred Heart’s Rosalie Caracciolo (1:40.23).

So, it was a plaque and a pr for Lee, who may have run in her final indoor high school event. She said she was unsure if she would compete in a national meet.

“Today went really smoothly, and the girls pushed the pace,” Lee said. “It’s an honor to run in the Long Island championships. It’s my senior season so I’m really glad to get a pr. I was really happy.”

Looking ahead to the future, Lee said she is excited about going to Williams College (Mass.), where she will run track and field, and possibly cross country as well.

In other events:

Riverhead pole vaulter Danielle Thomas went over the bar at 8 feet 6 inches, bringing her ninth place. The junior cleared 9-0 for the first time a week earlier.

“There are a lot of seniors who are graduating, so hopefully that opens up some room for her next year to really propel her upstate,” said Riverhead coach Justin Cobis.

Riverhead sophomore Maria Dillingham took 13th place in two events. In addition to running the 600 in 1:46.90, she also competed in the frosh/soph 300-meter dash, posting a time of 46.59.

Dillingham said it was an honor to compete in the prestigious meet.

“I wanted to get here all season,” she said. “I’m happy to be here.”

Cobis said of Dillingham: “She’s a very good competitor. She’s as tough as nails. She had a little bit of an off night tonight but, you know, she’s had a great progression through the entire season and she’s going to take that into the spring season and really propel forward.”

Shoreham-Wading River freshman Kaitlyn Ohrtman came in fourth in the frosh/soph 1,500. Her time was 5:02.79.

bliepa@timesreview.com

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead's Maria Dillingham, right, and Miller Place's Kiera Lopez running side by side in the 600 meters.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead’s Maria Dillingham, right, and Miller Place’s Kiera Lopez running side by side in the 600 meters.

10/11/12 6:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Woman’s Club member Barbara Brady dressed in period attire representing the decade from 1912 to 1922.

On the 100th anniversary of its founding — the exact day, in fact — the Riverhead Woman’s Club celebrated with a luncheon Thursday afternoon as members and guests gathered in the Sea Star Ballroom of the Hyatt Place Inn in downtown Riverhead.

One hundred years earlier, on Oct. 11, 1912, 19 women gathered in Mrs. Otis Pike’s home just down the street on Ostrander Avenue to organize their club.

It is one of the oldest service clubs in Riverhead and its stated purpose was “to work together along varied lines for the good of the community.”

Legislator Ed Romaine presented the members a proclamation and said, “Let’s look back at the impact this organization has had on the community: establishing the Riverhead Free Library, college scholarships and funding the first school nurse.”

The club has supported other charitable organizations over the years including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Suffolk County Historical Society and Hallockville among others. Members helped the soldiers at Camp Upton during World War II and put in 100,000 hours of volunteer time during the war.

/ 11

Riverhead High School graduate Justin Cobis, a 2002 scholarship recipient, attended St. John’s College to get his undergraduate and graduate degrees in social studies and education. He spoke at the luncheon and said “my teachers at Riverhead High School inspired me to get interested in education. I enjoyed being in school and took the next step to be an educator.”

In the summer of ‘06 he lined up a teaching job in Queens, but after perusing the Riverhead News-Review, he saw a help wanted notice for a social studies teacher at RHS and he jumped at the chance to teach in his hometown. He has been a ninth grade social studies teacher for six years and also coaches track and field. He said that it is challenging “to spend 10 months trying to teach 10,000 years of history.” This year the school has added a history of Long Island with two months dedicated to Riverhead history.

Mr. Cobis is married to RHS guidance counselor Anatasia Cobis and they have a 5 month-old son, Jackson. He told the 250 members and guests, “It has come full circle for me. The most important thing you have done is to invest in young people.”

As lunch was served, club historian Shirley Simon recited a condensed history of the club’s milestones and past presidents dressed in each decade-appropriate attire walked around the ballroom for a “Decades on Parade.”

photo@timesreview.com