Erik Engstrom has solidified his spot in East Hampton cross country history.
The junior won the individual Division III championship on the 5K (3.1-mile) course at Sunken Meadow State Park on October 21, with a school-record time of 16:52, becoming the first Bonac male runner to achieve that feat since Artie Fisher did it in 1987. Engstrom was fourth overall among all Suffolk County runners, behind Commack’s Josh Hadity (16:32), Port Jefferson’s James Burke (16:44) and Northport’s Mike Brannigan (16:49), all of whom are seniors.
Engstrom’s performance was the highlight for East Hampton in the championship race, which is open to the top two teams from each of the eight leagues in Suffolk County. The Bonackers (5-1) finished the regular season in second place in League VI behind Bayport (6-0). East Hampton finished second among the Division III teams in the championship race, getting past League V champion Harborfields, but coming in behind Bayport.
Also scoring for East Hampton were junior Thomas Paradiso (14th in 18:08), sophomore Josh Dempsey (16th in 18:14), freshman Geo Espinoza (21st in 18:38) and junior Jackson Rafferty (24th in 18:48). Engstrom and Paradiso earned All-Division III honors.
The Bonackers will compete at the state qualifier on Halloween, also at Sunken Meadow. The winning team from each class, and the top five finishers not from that winning team, will advance to states.
At the Tom Knipfing Memorial Run at Firemen’s Field in Ridge last Thursday, October 23, East Hampton won the freshman small schools 1.7-mile race, with Emilio Espinoza (9:12), Robert Weiss (9:43) and Xavier McCormack (10:36) sweeping the top three spots.
Freshman Liana Paradiso was the standout runner for the Lady Bonackers at the Division III Championships at Sunken Meadow, earning the right to compete at the state qualifier by finishing in 21:15. The Lady Bonackers narrowly missed qualifying as a team, so Paradiso will be the lone representative for her squad at the state qualifier meet.
At the Tom Knipfing Memorial Run at Firemen’s Field on October 23, Paradiso took first overall in the freshman girls 1.7-mile race by finishing in 11:05, leading her team to the victory in that event.
The Southampton boys cross country team has its sights set on winning what head coach Eddie Arnold says would be the first county title in program history at the upcoming state qualifier meet. The squad had a solid showing at the Division IV Championships at Sunken Meadow State Park on October 21, which was a tune-up for the all-important meet on Halloween.
Because the Mariners were League VII champions this year, they could have competed in the championship race at the division meet, which is open to the top two teams from each league in Suffolk County. But Arnold chose to put his team in the team qualifier race instead, saying that the level of competition in that race is more in line with what his team will be facing at the state qualifier on Halloween. Southampton’s main competitor for the county title, Port Jefferson, competed in the championship race because its top runner, James Burke, is one of the best in the county.
While none of the Mariners can approach Burke’s average time, Arnold believes his team has enough depth to snatch the title away from the Royals. Running as a pack has been the key to success for the Mariners this year, and Arnold said if his number five, six and seven runners—Mike Minogue, Charlie Bedard and Richardo Chino, in no particular order—can “displace” Port Jefferson’s number four and five runners, his team has a good chance to win.
Southampton’s depth was on display last week as they won the team qualifier race and finished 16th overall among all teams in the county. Spencer Crough was the fastest Southampton runner, finishing the 5K race in 18:08, while Kyle Vella (18:22), Minogue (19:02) and Chino (19:59) all had personal best times.
The Mariners also won the small schools 5K race at the Tom Knipfing Memorial at Firemen’s Field in Ridge on October 23. Vella was sixth overall in 19:08, while Minogue, Crough and Sebastian Hunter-Cuyjet finished eighth through tenth, respectively, all in 19:10. Two weeks ago at the Brown Invitational in Rhode Island, the Mariners finished third overall in the varsity 5K race. Crough (16:31), Ryan McCabe (17:17), Vella (17:03), Minogue (18:39) and Ted Jennings (19:35) all had personal-best times.
For the Lady Mariners, a trio of runners has a chance to qualify for states as individuals, and had strong showings at the division meet. Lumei Abantangelo, Michele Abantangelo and Hannah Connolly-Sporing could make the trip upstate if they finished in the top five among runners in their class who are not from the winning team at the state qualifier meet. At divisions, Lumei Abatangelo (22:23), Annie Connolly-Sporing (25:45) and Iwana Rokosz (26:43) all had personal best times.
The Lady Whalers, who compete in Class D, performed well at the Division IV Championships, and will try to qualify as a team or, at least, send several individuals to the upcoming state qualifier meet. Hannah Jungck led Pierson with a time of 21:28, while Caroline Jungck (21:59) and Phoebe Miller (23:31) also had strong performances for Pierson.