The Peconic Invitational has become one of the more popular cross country events in Suffolk County, so much so that Hampton Bays girls cross country coach Dave Oakley, who puts it together, was a little worried whether the course at Red Creek Park could handle the foot traffic.
But the course handled everything that was thrown at it during the sixth edition of the race, held last Thursday, September 12. There were four separate races, two 1.5-mile freshman races for boys and girls, and two 5K varsity races, also for boys and girls.
There were 16 boys teams and 19 girls teams in attendance, with 175 runners in the boys varsity race and 158 runners in the girls varsity race.
“That’s the most we’ve ever had,” Oakley said. “Everything went well, and we were actually able to move everything up with the threat of rain.
“I was happy the course handled it,” he added. “There were a lot of people. It’s really become popular.”
East Meadow’s Michael Grady ran the fastest time of the day in the boys varsity 5K race, crossing the finish line in 17:14. Ward Melville’s Charles Theiss finished second overall in 17:48 while East Hampton’s Erik Engstrom placed third in 17:54.
Other high placements from local area teams in the boys varsity race include East Hampton’s Jack Link, who took seventh in 18:16, and Nick Berglin of Hampton Bays, who finished ninth in 18:23. East Hampton’s Adam Cebulski placed 11th overall in 18:36 and Graham Brown of Westhampton Beach finished 18th in 19:04.
Elise Ramirez of Sachem North won the girls varsity 5K in 20:45, with East Hampton’s Dana Cebulski coming in just behind her at 21:16. Eastport South Manor’s Alex DeCicco placed third overall in 21:35.
ESM’s Ashley Schafer placed eighth overall in 22:29. Jaclyn Messemer of East Hampton took 14th overall in 22:59. Grace Gilbakian finished 16th overall in 23:25 while Southampton’s Erika Guljia finished right behind her in 23:33.
Riverhead’s Eric Cunha won the boys freshman race in 8:35, with Timothy Fuler of East Meadow coming in second in 8:43. Jack Ryan of Westhampton Beach placed third overall in 8:51.
ESM’s Taylor McClay won the girls freshman race in 9:26. East Hampton’s Liana Paradiso placed second in 9:57 while Sachem North’s Gabriella Mott finished third in 9:59.
ESM had a very good showing in the freshman race with four finishers in the top 10. Joining McClay was Nicole Navan at fifth place in 10:39, Toni Baker at eighth place in 10:54 and Ashlyn Dalton at 10th place in 11:06.
Both the Westhampton Beach and Eastport South Manor boys cross country teams started their dual meet seasons on September 10 at Sunken Meadow Park in Kings Park in good fashion. The Hurricanes defeated Mount Sinai 20-38 while ESM cruised past Kings Park 25-32.
The Hurricanes took five of the top six scoring slots in their victory. Graham Brown paced the team with a second-place finish of 17:05. Alex Patricolo finished third in 18:04, Jimmy Jordan took fourth in 18:06, David Nowak placed fifth in 18:37 and Roger Llivasaca rounded out the scoring at sixth place in 18:38.
ESM is only returning one scorer (Tom Meehan) from last year’s team, which had the best season in program history. The Sharks went 8-0 to notch their first undefeated season, won the League V title and were Division III champions.
Meehan won last week’s race in 16:20 while Ryan Corbett, in his first varsity race, placed second in 17:31. Brandon Turbush placed fourth for the Sharks in 17:53.