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Boys Track and Field: Cunha, battling allergies, weather, takes third

Eric Cunha’s reaction to waking up Monday morning with his allergies bothering him and then hearing about rain in the forecast for later in the day could be summed up in one word: ugh!

The Riverhead High School senior hoped the inclement weather would lead to a postponement of the Section XI Division Championships, but it wasn’t to be. Like it or not, Cunha had a race to run, and he wasn’t exactly thrilled.

In addition to the coughing and sneezing he dealt with as a result of his allergies, Cunha had also run a five-kilometer race Sunday in 16 minutes, 40 seconds. Upon his arrival at Comsewogue High School Monday for the first day of the division meet he, along with all the other competitors, was greeted by rain, wind and temperatures in the low 60s.

It all added up to a third-place finish by Cunha in the Division II 800-meter run. His time was 2:01.32.

“The time was very slow,” Cunha said following a postrace chat with assistant coach Sal Loverde. “I should probably blame that on the weather. I could blame that on the race I had yesterday. I just didn’t have the greatest attitude going into this with all the sinus issues that I’ve been having.”

Cunha, seeded second, had taken the lead about 300 meters into the race, but was overtaken and passed about 400 meters later. Deer Park senior Nick Fenton (1:58.43) and Hauppauge junior Nick Crociata (1:59.15) finished ahead of him — not that Cunha could see them as he dashed down the final stretch.

“I couldn’t see coming down that straightaway,” he said. “It was just rain in your face. And then you have water hitting you in the face from spikes. It’s not fun.”

Cunha’s personal-best time in the 800 is 1:57.4. “I was quite a bit off that,” he said. “What are you going to do?”

Cunha’s meet isn’t over, though. He will be back Wednesday to run in the 1,600. His best time in the 1,600 is 4:20.

“Hopefully I break that on Wednesday,” he said. “That would be really nice. I’m going to go for it. I really want that 4:16 time, one for nationals, two to get the state qualifying time and three to get the school record. So, that’s the big goal, another four seconds off my time. I think I can do it.”

Following Monday’s race, Cunha sounded happy to call it a day.

“I wish I had came into it with a little bit of a more positive attitude, but it is what it is,” he said. “It’s only a race. I’m coming back on Wednesday.”

Riverhead sophomore Kian Martelli took second in the triple jump at 42 feet, 1/2 inch. Copiague sophomore Edgar Tineo was first at 42-8 1/2.

In the Division III discus, Shoreham-Wading River junior Matt Rose’s throw of 123-10 brought him fifth place.

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Photo caption: Riverhead senior Eric Cunha, left, led the 800-meter race for about 400 meters before finishing third. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)