As Paul Koretzki embarks on his 40th year as the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls track and field coach, he can’t help but notice the similarities between that first team and the current one.
“It’s just like the first season, exactly,” he said. “We had some experienced distance runners and we had nothing else but young kids, and that’s exactly what we have now. It’s very, very similar.”
Koretzki wouldn’t mind if the results were the same. That 1979 team, with 25 athletes (only five of whom had run winter track the previous season), went 7-2. “We were kind of amazing,” said Koretzki.
The Wildcats would like a little amazing this year. They are coming off a 2-2-1 season in which they tied Sayville, 68-68, the first tie Koretzki’s teams have ever had.
As SWR has had to do this past cross-country and winter track seasons, it must once again deal with its post-Katherine Lee adjustment. Lee, regarded as one of the greatest high school track athletes Suffolk County has ever seen, is now running for Georgetown University.
“We don’t have Katherine,” Koretzki said. “That’s the biggest difference, and the young kids are going to have to big up.”
SWR does have three girls who fared well in last year’s Suffolk Division III Championships. Tori Ann Parrinello, a sophomore, was fourth in the 1,500-meter race walk in 8 minutes, 19.12 seconds. Senior long-distance runner Lexi Smith was fifth in the 1,500 meters in 4:58.13 and seventh in the 3,000 in 10:38.30. Junior Nicole Garcia took sixth in the 800 in 2:27.52.
Smith (3,000), Garcia (800) and sophomore Emma Longboat (shot put) were All-League performers.
SWR also has senior Francesca Lilly (triple jump, 800), senior Danielle Ohrtmann (middle distances, triple jump), senior sprinter Alicia Lopez, junior hurdler/middle-distance runner Margaret Panasci, sophomore thrower Meagan Klotz and junior pole vaulter Isadora Petretti.
“Our problem is we don’t have quarter-milers, and that’s what we’re going to try to build up,” said Koretzki.
What is Koretzki looking for this season?
“A winning season, 3 and 2,” he said. “That would be successful.”
Depth in track and field translates into points. With over 80 athletes on its team, that’s what Riverhead (1-5) is counting on.
Coach Maria Dounelis said, “The nice thing this season is we kind of got a lot of our events covered and we even have a bit of depth in some of them … and that’s going to make all the difference when we compete in these dual meets.”
A pair of hard-working juniors are leading the way in long-distance runner Christina Yakaboski and sprinter Miasha Pittman.
At the Section XI Championships, Yakaboski finished eighth in the 2,000-meter steeplechase in 7:40.03. She also ran for the 14th-placed 4×800 relay team in that meet.
In the Division I Championships, Yakaboski took third in the 3,000 in 10:33.25. She was also fourth in the steeplechase in 7:29.95 and her 4×800 relay team was fourth as well in 10:10.76. Kristina Deraveniere, Natalia Ruszkowski and Laryssa Olsen also ran for that relay team.
“She pushes them,” Dounelis said of Yakaboski. “She leads by example. She’s putting in the miles required to be that top distance runner.”
Pittman, who was All-League in the 100, is looking at a big season.
“She obviously is phenomenal for us and she’s a great leader,” Dounelis said. “She’s in great shape and she’s really focused. She’s really matured. This has been a big growth year for her.”
At the Section XI Championships, Riverhead’s Stephanie Berkeley was 12th, clearing 5 feet. She was third in the Division I meet at 4-10.
Linda Pomiranceva did some good things last year as a freshman. She was sixth in the steeplechase in 7:41.70 and seventh in the 3,000 in 10:56.82 at the divisional meet.
Three returning Riverhead pole vaulters finished tied for seventh in Division I: Jordan Schule, Morgan Fritscher and Jenna Smith. They all cleared 8-0.
Riverhead has plenty of others, too, like sprinters Ashli Bell, Enaria Suaza, Eve Pittman and Jada Pace Moore, long-distance runners Madison Stromski and Rebecca Bassemir, hurdlers Evan Albinski, Sarah Halsey and Anastasia Stapon, and walkers Shannon O’Brien and Lilly Kneidl, a senior transfer from Bishop McGann-Mercy.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Dounelis said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just see so many kids with such potential and it’s going to be exciting to see what they can do.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River senior Lexi Smith was an All-League runner in the 3,000 meters last year. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)