By Christopher Hunt
KINGS PARK – Bronxville coach Jim Mitchell didn’t panic when his star runner, Henrietta Miers, needed to sit this one out. Miers had strep throat needed the week off and Mitchell chose to look on the bright side.
“I told the girls, we could not ask for a better opportunity to debut next year’s team,” he said.
He couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. With their best and most experienced runner in street clothes, the Broncos crushed field in the Small Schools race at the St. Anthony’s Invitational at Sunken Meadow Park with 31 points, 50 points ahead of the second place team. Freshman Meredith Rizzo finished second in 15:57.63 with Amelia Phillips, another freshman, finishing fifth in 16:37.42 follwed by eighth-grader Argentina Chrappa sixth in 16:43.61. Bronxville fielded three eighth-graders in its top seven.
“If we can get through this year, for the next three years we’re going to be unbelievable,” Mitchell said.
With Miers on the sideline, senior Katherine Marrone and junior Serena Saari where left to lead the team but Rizzo said not having their lead runner forced the entire team to be more aware of themselves during the race.
“Sometimes it’s easy for us to sit back be say, well, she got it,” Rizzo said. “But when you don’t have her it’s on you and we have to go out there and see what we can do.”
Cold Spring Harbor senior Erica Cirino ran away with the individual title unchallenged in 15:27.15 and looked more like a weekend runner happy with a morning workout than someone who just won an invitational.
“I’m never serious,” Cirino said. “I just want to go out and have as much fun as possible. The weather was nice and I just really love to run.”
The best news for Cirino before the race was that it was a 2.5-mile race when her team expected to race the 5K-course they did last year. “We were all happy about that,” she said.
Roslyn’s Emily Lipari won the Varsity A-1 race in 14:55.17, the senior’s personal best for 2.5 miles. She won by nearly a full minute but admitted that she mostly wanted to stay under control during the race.
“I felt really relaxed,” she said. “Today I was aiming for 15:30. I don’t like racing really hard early in the season. I was really happy with 14:55. I just kind of wanted to see how my body felt.”
It’s a much different approach for the Foot Locker finalist than Cornwall’s Aisling Cuffe, another national finalist, who is having one of the best seasons in the country so far after running the second-fastest time ever at Bowdoin Park at the Bowdoin Classic last weekend.
“I knew that Aisling was going to be really good this year,” Lipari said. “She’s running great.”
St. John the Baptist won the Varsity A-1 race led by senior Krystal Foster, who finished second behind Lipari in 15:5.62 followed by teammate Anne Carey in third in 15:57.62.
“Were definitely expecting to continue doing well,” Foster said. “Everyone is doing well. We all kind of have running partners in the race and that really helps encourage and motivate us.”
Riverhead senior Katie Skinner (pictured on home page) was just off Lipari’s time in the Varsity A-2 race, winning in 14:56.30. Northport won the team title, lead for the second year by an eighth-grader. Brigid Brennan led in the team in second in 15:25.89. Sarah Zieve led the team last year but the freshman is out for the season after suffering an injury while doing gymnastics. Skinner though, outkicked Holy Trinity’s Colleen Schmidt in the home stretch. Schmidt finished in 15:01.92.
“I pushed it from the very beginning which I think hurt me in the middle,” Skinner said. “I couldn’t tell if she was getting closer but I felt like she was right there the whole race.”
Skinner said heading into her senior season encouraged her to log a productive summer of training which translated into her third invitational win of the season.
“This is really exciting,” she said.