GIRLS WINTER TRACK PREVIEW: Depth, health are SWR’s primary concerns

Roger Sullivan, the coach of the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats, said the key for his girls winter track team to make a run at the league title this winter is depth. “We’ve got to be able to score in the third- and fourth-place positions,” he said. “We also have to stay healthy.”

The Wildcats are led by junior Shannon McDonnell (600 meters, long jump, triple jump), sophomore Laura Lee (1,000), and seniors Danielle Opatovsky (1,500), Samantha Maier (shot put), Shannon Gallagher (shot put) and MacKenzie Pendergast (hurdles). Two newcomers, eighth-grader Rose Andrews and junior Audrey Kelly, will run in the 3,000.

While the Wildcats are strong in the middle-distance races, Sullivan said they are still working on who will compete in the high jump.

Although the Riverhead Blue Waves lost the talented Katie Skinner to graduation, Coach Becky Winkel said 67 girls tried out for the team this season.

Riverhead will be led by junior Juliana Marcucci (1,500 and 3,000), seniors Tyesha Harrell (55, 300 and triple jump), Sarah Governale (1,500 and 3,000) and Wynisha Hatcher (300, 600, triple jump). Not to be forgotten, either, are juniors Fatima Brown (300 and 600), Rebecca Kerr-Smith (shot put), and sophomore Christy Brewer (600, long jump and 4×400 relay). A trio of freshmen — Rachel Conti, Carolyn Carrera and Sydney Kito — will all vie for spots in the 300 and 600.

Winkel said Marcucci “is so dedicated, she is constantly trying to take it to another level.”

With 60 athletes still on the team, including a plethora of freshmen and sophomores, Winkel said “depth” is clearly one of her team’s strengths. But with Skinner gone, Winkel said she is looking for “someone to step into the leadership role.”

When Winkel was asked how good her team could be, she said without hesitation: “We could be great. We just have to work hard and persevere in this cold weather and stay together. It all depends on how much they want it.”

The Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs have 26 athletes on the roster, and that turnout exceeded the expectations of the team’s first-year coach, Gregg Cantwell.

The Monarchs will be led this season by seniors Kayleigh Macchirole (sprints and shot put) and Olivia Schumann (300 and high jump), juniors Emily Venesira (1,500 and 3,000), Tori Tremble (300 and relays), and Lauren Valle (1,500 and 3,000), along with sophomore Cassidy Lessard (sprints) and eighth-grader Delaney Macchirole (sprints and long jump).

Cantwell said Schumann’s biggest asset is her stride. “Olivia has very good form,” Cantwell said. “She has a long, natural stride.”

Cantwell praised Kayleigh Macchirole’s work ethic. “Kayleigh is a hard worker,” he said. “She will work on anything that can help the team.”

So far, Cantwell has focused on the running events. Now he and the team will turn their attention to the field events.

“First we get in shape, then we work on the technical events,” Cantwell said. “If everyone comes together and we can get rid of some of the injuries, we could be very good.”

But to get to that point, Cantwell said, “We need to get on the same page and consistently do our work day after day after day.”