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Cross Country: SWR’s Zelin runs back to states

It was essentially a late start to the high school cross-country season for Adam Zelin, but the Shoreham-Wading River junior caught up in time to run his way into the state meet for a second straight year.

Zelin said, as a result of overwork during this past spring’s track and field season, he suffered an injury to his right shin. The injury prohibited him from training hard in the summer as he underwent physical therapy and even limited him to “moderate” workouts this fall. He said it was only three weeks ago when he felt close to his regular self, running a time of 16 minutes and 44 seconds at the Brown Invitational. It was the fastest time he had ever run on a five-kilometer course.

At the Section XI Championships on Friday, Zelin turned in the fastest time he had ever run on the demanding 5K Sunken Meadow State Park course: 17:49.19. That was good enough for seventh place in the Class B race and a return to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships that will be raced Saturday at Sunken Meadow.

“He ran a smart race,” SWR coach Bob Szymanski said, adding, “He peaked at the right time.”

Miller Place junior Thomas Cirrito was first in 16:59.56. Zelin was among eight runners who had finished in under 18:00.

Westhampton Beach won the team championship handily with 41 points, 60 points better than second-place East Hampton.

“I had a lot of adrenaline going,” Zelin said. “I would say it was one of the most intense races of my life because everyone was so close.”

SWR senior Joey Krause was 17th in 18:26.84 and another Wildcat, freshman Anthony Zajac, was 67th in 21:06.96.

Krause said he shot into third early in the race in order to avoid congestion crossing a bridge. He fell to 10th after Snake Hill before starting to gain on some runners.

And then came famed Cardiac Hill.

“Cardiac’s all mental,” Zelin said. “You just got to power through that.”

That he did.

“He knew what he had to do and he made it,” said Szymanski.

Last year Zelin was 78th in the state meet in 18:33.4, but that was on a muddy course at Wayne Central School in Ontario Center. This time the state’s best runners will be coming to Sunken Meadow.

“It’s my home course, so hopefully I can do good,” Zelin said.

How does he like running at Sunken Meadow?

“It could be fun sometimes,” he said, “and not so much fun when you hit Cardiac.”

In Class A, Riverhead seniors Ryan Carrick (17:53.67) and Ryan Keane (19:00.04) were 25th and 79th, respectively. Also running for the Blue Waves were sophomore Benjamin Catanzaro (82nd in 19:04.46), sophomore Matthew Yakaboski (129th in 20:01.50), senior Michael Cunningham (144th in 20:37.63), senior Eoin McElhinney (155th in 21:27.56) and sophomore Michael Burns (158th in 22:04.40).

Riverhead’s Christina Yakaboski, pictured at a meet in October. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Yakaboski misses qualifying

Riverhead’s Christina Yakaboski was on the verge of qualifying for her first state meet. So close — and so disappointing.

A mere 1.86 seconds stood between Yakaboski and a place in the state meet. The junior was seventh in Class A in 19:57.47, finishing right behind Commack senior Kaitlyn DeYulio (19:55.61). Bay Shore junior Roshni Singh won in 18:54.54.

With a half-mile left, Yakaboski was fifth with a 20-30-meter lead over the sixth runner, said Riverhead coach Justin Cobis. Yakaboski was eventually passed by West Babylon’s Josephine Critchley and DeYulio.

“If she had gotten sixth, she would have made it,” Cobis said of Yakaboski. “She literally was in perfect position until the last 10th of a mile. She gave everything she had and that’s OK.”

Riverhead sophomore Linda Pomiranceva (26th in 21:03.22) ran a personal-best time on the course to earn All-County status along with Yakaboski and junior Megan Kielbasa (41st in 21:44.27). The other Riverhead runners were junior Kristina Deraveniere (59th in 22:30.96), junior Natalia Ruszkowski (70th in 22:48.44), junior Emma Conroy (86th in 23:19.41) and sophomore Shannon O’Brien (99th in 24:03.59).

Sachem East won the team title with 88 points. Riverhead was sixth for a second straight year with 191.

Speaking of Yakaboski, Cobis said: “She was right there. She did everything right. She obviously was very disappointed. As her coach, I was very disappointed for her, but that was where my disappointment ended.”

SWR junior Nicole Garcia came in seventh in 20:26.06 and SWR senior Alexandra Smith was eighth in 20:45.14 in Class B, yet neither qualified for the state meet. Also finishing for the Wildcats were eighth-grader Caitlyn Ohrtman (28th in 23:22.16), senior Danielle Ohrtman (30th in 23:24.64), junior Isadora Petretti (32nd in 23:44.05), sophomore India McKay (33rd in 23:58.07) and freshman Emily Cook (46th in 24:53.16).

As a team SWR (72 points) took third place behind Kings Park (45) and Sayville (51).

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Photo caption: Despite a shin injury that slowed his start to the season, Shoreham-Wading River junior Adam Zelin has run his way back into the state meet for a second straight year. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)