Shoreham-Wading River High School’s boys cross-country team has two returning state meet runners, but after that the Wildcats have question marks. That could have coach Bob Szymanski feeling a bit uneasy heading into the new season.
First, start with the known quantities — senior Joe Krause and junior Adam Zelin. They both braved the cold, muddy conditions in the state championships last year on the 3.1-mile course at Wayne Central School in Ontario Center. Krause, who had missed qualifying for the state meet the previous year by one place, was 29th among Class B runners in 17 minutes, 34.6 seconds. Adam Zelin was 78th in 18:33.4.
In the state qualifying meet at Sunken Meadow State Park’s 3.1-mile course, Krause was third in the class in 17:44.64. Earlier, in the Suffolk County Division Championships on the same course, Krause finished second in Division III in 17:26.69, the best time he has ever run at that course.
Zelin was fifth at the state qualifier in 17:58.44 and fourth at the division meet in 18:01.97.
Szymanski said Krause and Zelin “look pretty good right now. They’ve been running hard for me. They’re veterans. They know what to do.”
SWR (5-1) lost to East Hampton in the final dual meet last year and had to settle for second place in League VI. It won’t be easy for the Wildcats to duplicate that run.
“I think we’re going to be weaker than last year because I’m relying on a lot of freshmen to come through,” said Szymanski, who lost three scorers from last year. “When you go from losing the seniors to having freshmen, it’s hard to fill in.”
Health issues arose for the team’s Nos. 3 and 4 runners. Sophomore Jacob Jablonski tore an ACL and is out for the season. Eric DiLisio, a senior co-captain with Krause, broke his ankle four weeks ago and was recently given the OK to run again.
Anthony Zajac, the No. 1 eighth-grader on the junior high school team last year, could pick up some of the slack. Others who will be looked to for help are senior Andrew Liguori, junior Camden Sisler and four freshmen — Connor Blunnie, Thomas Constantine, Ryan Farron and Liam Flatley.
This year, for the first time since Nov. 8, 2008, the state meet will be run at hilly Sunken Meadow. That’s where Riverhead senior Ryan Carrick would like to finish his high school cross-country career.
Carrick has the ideal physique for a cross-country runner — tall (6-3) and lean with a long stride.
Carrick recently came in second place in the Jamesport Sound to Bay 10K race in 37:28.80, and looks ready for a strong run at the new season.
“I’m expecting good things from him this year,” coach Matt Yakaboski said. “He’s been strong. He definitely separates himself during the end of longer runs. He can go longer than anybody at pace.”
Carrick failed to qualify for the state meet last year, coming in 28th in Class A in 18:04.16 on an unseasonably warm afternoon at the Section XI Championships. Earlier, on that same Sunken Meadow course, he was third in Division II in the Division Championships in a dramatically faster time: 17:35.31.
Riverhead (3-3) has a decent base in Carrick and fellow seniors Ryan Keane and Michael Cunningham.
“I’m excited for the Ryans, to see what they can do, and to make their individual moves as seniors and see where they can stand,” said Yakaboski.
Where the Blue Waves are slim, though, is their depth. The loss of three of last year’s top seven runners will be felt. Senior Eoin McElhinney and the team’s only junior, Alex Martinez, may emerge into the squad’s top seven.
“My sophomores need to make a push,” said Yakaboski.
That group of 10th-graders includes Ben Catanzarro, Matthew Yakaboski (the coach’s son who missed the end of last season with shin splints), Gabe Burns, William Green and Kaden Lynch.
“I’m nervous about my depth, but if I can find another guy who can score in the top seven, we’ll do really well,” Yakaboski said. “I don’t know what to expect. I like the effort that I get all the time in practice. I like the camaraderie of the team and the boys enjoy it. What more can you ask for?”
Photo caption: Joe Krause, a senior who ran in the state meet last year, leads Shoreham-Wading River into the new season. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)