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Girls Track and Field: SWR has championship quality

Quantity is great. It sure helps, but sometimes nothing beats quality.

Perhaps more than anything, that was the lesson to be taken from Shoreham-Wading River’s triumph in the Section XI girls track and field division championships. Five Shoreham athletes accounted for all but 10 of the team’s 105 points as the Wildcats claimed their seventh Suffolk County championship in the meet, which wrapped up Friday at Ward Melville High School.

Katherine Lee was a four-time winner for Division III champion Shoreham, which finished eight points ahead of runner-up Westhampton Beach. It was Lee, a junior, and seniors Payton Capes-Davis, Aly Hays, Maria Smith and Amanda Dwyer, who made up the winning formula for Shoreham, which dominated in events like the 3,000 meters, the 1,500 and the 800.

“That was definitely the goal, to take over our strong events,” said Capes-Davis.

The first day of the meet on May 23 was a big one for Shoreham, which held a 52-18 lead over second-place Westhampton. Following a two-day break because of a weather-related postponement, the Wildcats came back fresh on Friday.

“The first day was big,” Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki said. “The other teams had good quality, too, in the sprints, but they went against each other. They cancelled each other out.”

Meanwhile, Shoreham was soaking up the points in the events it concentrated in. Lee led a Shoreham sweep of the first four places in the 1,500 in 4 minutes, 28.62 seconds, winning the event for the second year in a row. She was followed by Hays (4:39.94), Smith (4:44.02) and Dwyer (4:52.61). Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Kait Butterfield was fifth in 5:11.39.

Lee, who entered the season having come off a hernia operation and an ankle injury, had won both the 3,000 (9:58.52) for a third straight year and 800 (2:11.33) on the first day of the meet. That 800 time is a school record, breaking a 1987 mark that of 2:12 that was held by Megan Holden, according to Koretzki.

Lee’s times in the 800 as well as the 1,500 and 3,000 are all Suffolk Division III records, according to suffolkxctf.com.

Capes-Davis said Lee is “back, better than ever. She’s in phenomenal shape. She kills workouts every day and she’s really a driving force on this team.”

Koretzki said Lee’s time in the 1,500 indicates that she is back to normal. “She’s an outstanding runner,” he said. “She gets a lot of feedback from her teammates. They push her a lot.”

Some of those teammates joined Lee in Shoreham’s triumph in the 4×800-meter relay. That foursome, which included Capes-Davis, Hays and Smith, was first in 9:27.64.

Capes-Davis, meanwhile, has a 2-0 career record in the 2,000-meter steeplechase. She grabbed first in 7:11.73. Her nearest competition came from Mount Sinai’s Noreen Guilfoyle (7:30.03).

“I went out a little too hard,” said Capes-Davis, who came close to the 7:10.39 that was turned in at the Port Jefferson Steeplefest in April. “I definitely wanted a [personal record] out of it. I was a little bit too ambitious, but everything’s a learning experience.”

Shoreham senior Haley Lindell took third in the pole vault with a height of 9-6. Her younger teammate, sophomore Julia DeGolyer, was sixth in the pentathlon with 2,113 points.

Riverhead freshman Christina Yakaboski grabbed fourth in the Division II 1,500 in 4:56.30.

West Babylon won the Division II team title with 104 points. Riverhead was 16th with 10.

In the Division III 400, Mercy junior Olivia Kneski was fifth in 1:00.28.

Shoreham knew it had its title sealed up with two events remaining, but there wasn’t a big celebration. Koretzki said after Shoreham’s 4×800 relay team ran its race, “They just went out and did their cooldown. Then they went home.”

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Photo caption: Katherine Lee was a four-time winner as Shoreham-Wading River secured the Section XI Division III team championship. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)