Winter Track: In a surprise, 4 SWR girls bring team 14th title

Shoreham-Wading River runner Katherine Lee 020617

Though based on times and distances, track and field isn’t an exact science. So, trying to predict team scoring can be a risky venture. Things don’t always pan out as projected.

The Shoreham-Wading River High School girls winter track team is grateful for that.

As Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki saw it, West Babylon was the team to beat in the Section XI small school championships on Sunday at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. Koretzki had penciled in West Babylon for 72 points and 54 points for his own team.

It didn’t quite turn out that way, though.

With all of its scoring coming from four girls, Shoreham ran up 69 points, good enough for first place in the team scoring and 10 more than runner-up Westhampton Beach. West Babylon was third with 54 points. It is Shoreham’s 14th indoor county championship (more than any other school, according to Koretzki) and first since 2007.

“We just got all the points that we possibly could have,” said senior Alexandra Hays, who finished first in the 1,500 meters with a season-best time of 4 minutes, 45.70 seconds.

Hays also ran on Shoreham’s triumphant 4×800 relay team along with senior Payton Capes-Davis, senior Amanda Dwyer and junior Katherine Lee. They won in 9:49.62. Bayport-Blue Point was second in 10:01.20.

Lee set a meet record in the 600 with her victory in 1:34.26. That broke a record that had stood for 31 years, a time of 1:35.6 that Newfield’s Valerie Bertrand clocked in 1986.

Lee held off a strong challenge by West Babylon senior Paige Keefer, who was second in 1:35.98. Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Madeleine Joinnides finished fifth in 1:42.58.

“I thought that my chance of winning was very slim,” Lee said. “Paige has been doing an exceptional job in the 600 this year. She’s really been running amazing times.”

In addition, Lee triumphed in the 3,000 in 10:31.45, with Hays a close second, just 11/100ths of a second behind Lee.

The 1,000 and 1,500 were big events for Shoreham. Keefer (2:59.49) took first in the 1,000, but Capes-Davis (3:01.89) and Dwyer (3:03.58) nabbed second and third. Capes-Davis said her time was a season-best by four seconds. Koretzki thought Shoreham would take seven points from the 1,500. The Wildcats earned 17, thanks to Hays’ victory, a third by Dwyer (4:50.71) and a sixth by Capes-Davis (5:05.66).

“I don’t think [the meet] could have gone any better,” said Lee, wearing three winner’s medals around her neck. “We all put our hearts into it and it just turned out really well.”

This Shoreham foursome doesn’t have a nickname, at least not yet. What do the coaches call them?

“We call them by their first names,” said assistant coach Roger Sullivan.

It has proven to be a winning group. “I’m definitely incredibly blessed to be on a team of these four women that I’m with,” said Capes-Davis.

Lee said: “I’ll definitely be able to look back and remember the three other girls who helped me get this championship because we really do a lot of great stuff together. We really work amazingly together.”

Next up for Shoreham will be the Millrose Games on Saturday at The Armory in New York City. Lee will run the mile. Because of that, by rule, she will not be eligible to run in the 4×800 relay as well. Her spot on the relay team with Capes-Davis, Dwyer and Hays will be taken by either freshman Nicole Garcia or sophomore Francesca Lily, said Koretzki.

In the large school championships, Riverhead freshman Christina Yakaboski was sixth in the 1,500 in 4:59.59.

Cunha second in 1,000. Riverhead senior Eric Cunha came in second in the 1,000 at the Section XI large school championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Saturday. His time was 2:34.02. Sachem North senior Christopher Tuthill took top honors in 2:31.60.

In the sectional small schools championships, Shoreham senior Patrick Flannery was sixth in the 600 in 1:28.61.

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Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s Katherine Lee, right, won the 600 meters in a meet record 1 minute, 34.26 seconds, edging West Babylon’s Paige Keefer, right. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)