Ah, to be young again.
It’s a great feeling for the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys track and field team.
Some of the Wildcats’ best runners this year are underclassmen.
Coach Brian Wrinkle, whose team went 4-2 last year, knows that young athletes have the ability to improve by leaps and bounds.
“It’s nice to have youth,” he said. “They have a higher ceiling, so it’s nice to see them grow.”
Talk about youth, one can talk about sprinters like sophomore Luke Grey and junior Anthony Guzzone. Or junior long jumper and triple jumper Dan Montenegro. Or long-distance runners like sophomores Joey Krause and Eric DiLisio and freshman Adam Zelin. Another top long-distance runner is senior Joey Chianese.
The Wildcats also have junior pole vaulter Ryan Leda, junior high jumper Ricky Casazza, senior throwers Matt Rose and James Logan, senior hurdler Sebastian Rodriguez and junior middle-distance runner Liam Clifford.
“There are a lot of young studs coming up,” said Wrinkle.
Shoreham, traditionally known for its prowess in long-distance events, is becoming a “speed-heavy team,” Wrinkle said. “We’re becoming better at the jumps and the sprinting events. It’s a cyclical thing.”
Despite having its work cut out in a league that includes Amityville and Miller Place, Wrinkle believes Shoreham can have another winning season. He said, “A winning record is what we look for.”
Last year Riverhead (3-3) had an unquestioned standout in Luke Coulter, who is now running for Stony Brook University. He was a state runner-up in the 800 meters. This year Eric Cunha is the clear heir apparent for that role.
Cunha, a senior coming off an indoor season in which he finished seventh in the 1,000 with a personal-record time of 2 minutes, 32.32 seconds, will handle the 1,600 and 3,200 this spring.
“He’s our stud of our team,” coach Steve Gevinski said, adding: “He’s so smart. He has a game plan going into the race ahead of time. He knows what he wants to do and that gives him confidence going on the track. He’s not scared. He’s not intimidated.”
Riverhead also has, among its 75 athletes, sophomore long-distance runner Ryan Carrick, senior sprinter Trey Miles-Ross, senior hurdler Alec Buczynski, sophomore jumper Kian Martelli and junior thrower Eric Behr.
The critical areas for Riverhead will be in the sprinting and throwing events.
“If the sprints and the throws can carry us through, we can have a successful year,” said Gevinski.
Gevinski is still learning more about his team. “It’s like peeling onions,” he said. “Every day I’m finding some real good stuff.”
Bishop McGann-Mercy coach Les Williams recalled his team was trailing strong Port Jefferson in a dual last year by five points heading into the final three events, the relays. The Monarchs (1-4) lost, but considering they had only 13 athletes that day, it was an impressive showing, nonetheless.
Small numbers make it difficult to win dual meets. Mercy still has a small team, but numbers are up to 22 athletes.
“They show up every day,” Williams said. “If they do that during the season, we’ll be fine. Our problem last year is we just didn’t have enough people.”
Amid those numbers is some quality. Williams believes sophomores Ryan Razzano and Michael Senica have the ability to make it to the state meet. Razzano is a sprinter who also does the long and triple jumps. “He’s got a lot of talent in him,” Williams said. “My job is to get it out of him.” Senica runs the 800, the 1,600 and the 3,200.
Mercy’s 4×100 relay team, which will include junior Merc Osinki and possibly Razzano, also has state potential, said Williams.
Mercy also has juniors Robert Halversen (400-meter intermediate hurdles, 4×400 relay, 4×800 relay), John Urrico (800, 100, 4×100) and Joe Algieri (shot put, discus) and sophomore sprinter Liam Egan, who also does the 110 high hurdles.
Williams said,. “If we could dominate the sprints, which I think we might, we’re going to be very good.”
Photo caption: Dan Montenegro handles long jumps and triple jumps for Shoreham-Wading River. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)