Three Southampton runners will represent their teams at the New York State Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Queensbury, New York, based on their efforts in last Friday’s Suffolk County meet at Sunken Meadow Park.
Sebastian Hunter-Cuyjet and Spencer Crough qualified for the Mariners boys team in Class C, while Hannah Connolly-Sporing will represent the girls, also in Class C.
The Southampton boys narrowly missed out on sending the entire team to states, finishing second behind Port Jefferson. The Royals won the meet with 35 points, while Southampton was second with 47. The winning team goes to states in each class, and the next five fastest individuals not from that winning team also earn spots at states, which is how the three Mariner runners qualified. Hunter-Cuyjet, a sophomore, was fourth overall in 18:29 on the 3.17-mile course at Sunken Meadow, while Crough, a freshman, was fifth overall in 18:51. Those were personal-best times for both runners. Connolly-Sporing, a junior, took third overall in the girls Class C race in 22:14, also a personal best. The Lady Mariners finished fourth with 77 points as a team.
Other Mariner runners performed well but did not make the state meet. For the boys team, Charlie Bedard was 11th overall in 19:26; Ryan McCabe was 13th in 19:49; and Ricardo Chinno was 18th in 20:14, all personal-best times.
Head coach Eddie Arnold said the boys team had an outside chance of beating Port Jefferson, and even had an early lead on the Royals, but couldn’t hold on.
“Port Jeff has been county champs for multiple years,” Arnold said. “I told the boys they have to visit this first before they can understand what it takes to be a champion.”
The boys should be strong again next year, graduating only two seniors—Timmy Squires and Johann Morales.
For the Lady Mariners, sophomore Lumei Abatangelo was 10th overall in 23:08 and missed out on a spot at states by just one place. Erika Gulija had a personal-best time of 24:47 and was 22nd overall. Arnold said he was proud of Connolly-Sporing, who overcame nerves before the race and settled in to achieve her goal of qualifying for states. Connolly-Sporing eases her nerves before every race by reading a book before the start, keeping the book with her at the starting line and tossing it aside when the official says “set” before shooting the gun to start the race.
Three members of the Pierson girls cross country team and one member of its boys team will make the trip to states as well, competing in the Class D race. For the Lady Whalers, sophomore Hannah Jungck (fifth overall in 23:57), junior Maya Buckner (sixth overall in 23:58) and senior Elena Skerys (eighth overall in 24:36) all qualified, while Arlena Burns (10th overall in 25:23) is an alternate. For the boys, Tiger Britt finished fifth overall in 19:57 and qualified for states as an individual.
The Lady Whalers finished second as a team to Stony Brook, which won the race with 26 points. Pierson had 38. Head coach Jim Kinnier said he expected his team to be a little closer to Stony Brook, but said the Lady Bears ran a great race by placing four runners in the top seven.
“Sometimes you have to take your hat off, shake the other team’s hand and congratulate them, which the Pierson girls did, right after the race,” he said. “I am very proud of the Pierson girls. They trained to compete to win, which is as much as anyone can control. When you lay it all on the line, as these Pierson girls did, you make yourself vulnerable for disappointment, which they are. But they look forward to next year.”
The Bonac boys and girls cross country teams had great individual efforts in the Class B race, but unfortunately were not able to send any runners to states. The boys team finished fourth out of eight teams with 102 points, edged by one point by Harborfields. Powerhouse Shoreham/Wading River (41 points) was first followed by Bayport/Blue Point (55).
Sophomore Erik Engstrom led East Hampton, finishing 10th in 17:46, which earned him All-County honors. Engstrom was the second kid out in terms of individual qualifiers for states, and every runner who finished ahead of him is a senior. His time was a personal-best. Senior Thomas Brierley had his best race of the year, finishing in 18:13, while seniors Jack Link (18:16) and Adam Cebulski (18:27) also had good times. Junior Sean Moucha had his best time of the year by a minute, finishing in 19:01.
The Lady Bonackers finished seventh in Class B, and were led by Dana Cebulski, who was 10th overall in 20:55, her best time of the year on the course. She was just two spots away from making it to states, but earned All-County honors. Merissah Gilbert (24:16) and Jackie Messemer (22:21) also had personal-best finishes on the day, as well as Devon Brown (24:00). East Hampton’s number two runner, Liana Paradiso, had stomach issues and could not finish the race. Cebulski, Paradiso and Messemer earned All-Division honors.
East Hampton should be strong next year, as Julia DeSousa is the only senior.
“This has been the best team I have coached in a long time,” head coach Diane O’Donnell said. “They are hard working, committed and truly loyal to each other and me. Everyone from our top five are returning next year, we are already making plans for a big season.”