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

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

05/03/13 7:40pm
05/03/2013 7:40 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Kaitlin Ohrtman carried the baton for Shoreham-Wading River on the anchor leg of the 4x1600-meter relay that the Wildcats took first place in.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Rose Andrews carried the baton for Shoreham-Wading River on the opening leg of the 4×1600-meter relay that the Wildcats took first place in.

MARVIN GOLDBERG RELAYS

So, you think throwing the shot put is simple? Think again.

There is a lot more to throwing that large, metal ball than meets the eye. That is what Meghan Serdock quickly learned when she took up throwing events for Shoreham-Wading River’s girls track and field team last year. Imagine Serdock’s surprise when coach Paul Koretzki told her that there are no less than 62 body movements involved in throwing the shot put properly.

“The speed, the spin, where the foot’s got to go, is it turning, is it this, is it that?” Koretzki said. “The whole bit, 62 moves.”

Serdock said, “When he told me that, I was like, ‘Well, I got about three down, and 59 to go.’ ”

Don’t think there isn’t a purpose to each of those 62 moves, either. Some may be subtle, but they matter.

“They all really do make a big difference,” Serdock said. “You fix one thing, and it will go an extra foot.”

That may help explain Serdock’s rise as a thrower in the shot put as well as the discus.

Last year, Serdock’s best throws were 88 feet in the discus and about 26 feet in the shot put. This year the senior has reached 95 feet in the discus and 33 in the shot put, and she’s looking forward to a collegiate career competing for SUNY/Oneonta.

Serdock went undefeated in both events during the dual-meet season, which the Wildcats completed Wednesday with a 100-50 loss to rival Bayport-Blue Point. In finishing their League VII schedule with a 5-1 dual-meet record, the Wildcats hold a remarkable record of 264-14 (.950) since 1980 when the program began.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Meghan Serdock, who made big strides in the discus and shot put, will join SUNY/Oneonta's team next year.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Meghan Serdock, who made big strides in the discus and shot put, will join SUNY/Oneonta’s team next year.

Serdock reached the state qualifying meet last year, but said she didn’t do much. She’s a better thrower this season, though.

“I worked all winter with the shot put and hit 30 by the end of the winter season, and discus just seemed to work recently,” she said.

Regarding the discus, she said: “I wanted to hit a hundred, and I’m really close. Who knows? I’m almost there.”

Serdock helped host Shoreham-Wading River to third-place finishes in both the discus and shot put in the 35th annual Marvin Goldberg Relays on Friday with respective throws of 89-8 and 31-11 1/2. Not too shabby.

The Wildcats also had throws of 53-5 from Emma Stoll and 45-0 from Natalie Lapadota in the discus and distances of 20-4 from Katie Dunn and 15-6 1/4 from Lapadota in the shot put.

Serdock has a background as a sprinter, and Koretzki said the explosiveness she has from sprinting has helped her as a thrower. “I think the quick feet create the torque,” he said. “That’s very important.”

Serdock is a former soccer player, but she has taken a liking to track and field’s throwing events. She watches videos of Olympic throwers to see what throws are supposed to look like.

“I love it,” she said. “I do.”

So, of the 62 components to the shot put, how many more does Serdock have to master?

“Probably about 50 still,” she said. “I have a lot to go.”

For many Suffolk County track and field athletes, their season concludes with the dual-meet season while the higher-caliber athletes have big county and state meets to look forward to. The Marvin Goldberg Relays give athletes such as Shoreham-Wading River’s Tara Sanders, who ran in the 4×100 relay, one last chance to compete in high school.

“For a lot of the kids, this is really their last competition,” Koretzki said. “Some of them aren’t going to make the counties. They might go to the freshman/sophomore meet or this could be the end.”

It’s also a chance to win medals. Altogether, 484 medals were presented to athletes from the 10 teams that competed, said Koretzki.

Additionally, there are also some unusual events that are rarely, if at all, seen anywhere else, such as the 4×100 shuttle hurdles, the 2xpole vault and the 4×1600 relay.

“I really like this meet just because it’s fun,” Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Rose Andrews said. “There’s a relay for everything.”

Andrews was part of a young foursome that took first place in the 4×1600 relay. She ran the opening leg and was followed by eighth-grader Alexandra Hays, sophomore Maddy Kelly and freshman Kaitlin Ohrtman as they turned in a winning time of 23 minutes 40.7 seconds. Comsewogue was second in 24:35.5.

Two Shoreham-Wading River pole vaulters, Megan Safranek and Amanda Welischar, both cleared 9 feet to give the Wildcats a winning total of 18-0 in the pole vault relay.

bliepa@timesreview.com