Girls Cross Country: SWR freshman to lead Wildcats; Riverhead team doubles in size

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River freshman Kaitlyn Ohrtman will be the Wildcats’ top runner this season.

At this time last year, in her first season running varsity cross country, Shoreham-Wading River’s Kaitlyn Ohrtman would clock in on the plus side of 21 minutes. As the season progressed, the eighth-grader continued dropping her time, emerging as one of the Wildcats’ top runners.

Now as a freshman, Ohrtman comes into the season as the Wildcats’ No. 1 runner. She’s already gotten off to a strong start, finishing 10th overall Saturday at the Suffern Invitational at Bear Mountain State Park. She ran the three-mile course in 19:51.45 as the Wildcats finished sixth as a team.

Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki said the Wildcats are still young this year but have a lot of strong runners. The Wildcats lost their first dual meet to Miller Place, but the Panthers will likely be in contention for the county title.

“We got a shot at the rest of the people,” Koretzki said. “Our goal is to make the county championship race and see what happens there.”

Sophomore Rose Andrews returns for the Wildcats. She finished 34th overall at the Suffern Invitational in 21:04.45.

Senior Laura Lee is one of the few upperclassmen among the Wildcats’ top runners. Sophomore Maddy Kelly and eighth-grader Ali Hays will both be key runners this year for Shoreham. Hays was Shoreham’s fifth runner across the finish line Saturday.

The team will also rely on seniors Claire and Laura Shanklin and Anya Uzo.

The Wildcats will run this weekend in the Bob Pratt Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park.

Riverhead girls assistant coach Christy Salerno couldn’t believe the number of girls who came out for the cross country team this season.

“The team doubled in size,” the second-year coach said.

The Blue Waves benefitted from several track runners deciding to run cross country this season. Salerno said the track coaches suggested to many of the girls that they run year round and use cross country as preparation for the winter and spring seasons.

The Blue Waves had a young team last year and just about all the girls are back this season. Salerno, who takes the lead with the girls team while head coach Pat Burke focuses on the boys, said the commitment from the runners over the summer was outstanding.

Junior Rachel Conti and freshman Megan Van Bommel are two of the track runners who will be running cross country. The two ran together on the 4 x 800 relay team last winter that won the League III title.

Sophomore Maurinne Sullivan returns for the Blue Waves after a strong season last year. She was one of three runners to compete in the team qualifier race at the division championship last year.

Freshman Megan Carrick should be another key runner.

The Blue Waves lost their first League IV dual meet to Bellport, 22-37. Salerno said the team’s goal is to win a few dual meets and for each girl to continue hitting her personal best times.

“I’ve never seen such team spirit,” Salerno said. “The girls are always cheering each other on.”

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