Suffolk Spotlight: Week 2 - Bob Pratt & Beyond

This year, MileSplit NY is highlighting specific communities within New York State. Vince Brock, a contributor from Section 11, will be running a Suffolk recap each week, with plans to expand to Nassau as well.

- - -

This was a big weekend for a lot of Suffolk County runners. Most of the top teams have now debuted and most (but not all) of the top runners have run an invitational by this point.  There were also a number of breakthrough performances by a few runners who seemingly put in huge summers.  The top three preseason teams for both genders (in class A) all raced this weekend; however, none of them raced each other. Meanwhile, Suffolk's top runner, ran the US 10k Road Race Championships at The Great Cow Harbor Run.

Sunken Meadow hosted their usual second week of the season invite called the Bob Pratt Invitational.  Bob Pratt is hosted by Smithtown, one of the top three ranked boys class A teams in the preseason.  Individually, there were two huge breakout performances.  Ward Melville's Brian Leibowitz and Huntington's Matt Armstrong put themselves directly in the center of the state's discussion.  Leibowitz just missed breaking the 17 minute barrier (17:03) and Armstrong stopped the clock at 17:17.  They finished second and fourth respectively with the host school's Douglas Antaky getting top three for the second week in a row in 17:07.  All three runners have an excellent chance of breaking 17 minutes by the end of the season, which will put them in a great position to be on the starting line at VVS.  The race was won by Brewster's Patrick Ford in 16:51.  

In a small "upset", Ward Melville was the top Suffolk team in the blue race.  Smithtown was hurt by a 3+ minute spread from Antaky to their fifth runner.  Melville was second overall to Brooklyn Tech.  Both teams will look to close down their spread by the end of the season but have a great low stick.  Keep an eye out for both of these teams to tighten up their 1-5 and drastically improve their packs by the county meet.

The red race was won by Westhampton Beach's Trevor Hayes.  Hayes has a good chance to be Suffolk's top overall runner this season based on his Cross Country results from last year and his 3200m last spring.  He won the race by 14 seconds over Farmingdale's George Thomatos with a few more Suffolk runners finishing out the top 5.  Shoreham had two runners under 18 minutes. Port Jefferson's Brendan Capadanno broke 18 for the first time, establishing himself as the clear Class D favorite.  One of Suffolk's top returners, Westhampton Beach's Max Haynia was noticeably absent.

The team battle in this race was a step behind the blue race.  Port Washington took the win with 102 points over Class D favorite Port Jefferson.  Shoreham was third with 124 points but no team had more than three runners under 19 minutes.  

The girls blue race was led by 2021 State Qualifier Amanda Probst from Ward Melville.  She ran 20:35 in a close victory over Shoreham's Olivia Pesso. Pesso ran a new personal record time of 20:37.  She will look to lead Shoreham against a strong Sayville team later in the season.  Mount Sinai has continued their seemingly annual tradition of finding extremely talented middle schoolers.  Paige Sheiffele finished third just in front of her 7th grade teammate Cali Gabrielson who JUST missed breaking 21 minutes.  For the second week in a row, Mount Sinai has made the interesting decision to only race Sheiffele and Gabrielson and sit the rest of their team in the Varsity race (Paige's sister ran in the JV race and finished second).  Based on last year's results, they will have a tremendous top three once Paige's twin sister Carli comes back.  They will need that top three to go up against Sayville and Shoreham later in the season.  With an improved four and five, they could be a major factor in the team race in November.  If they can't find a four and five, you may see three people from Mount Sinai qualify to run at VVS.  Class B is shaping up to be incredibly exciting at the end of the season (more on that later).  

Shoreham won the team title convincingly over Ward Melville by scoring only 64 points.  Neither team had more than three runners under 23 minutes.  Shoreham will have to drastically improve in order to stay with Sayville or Mount Sinai in November.  

The red race was won by Pearl River's Madyson Morony.  She just missed breaking 20:00 (20:01) to win by 17 seconds over Babylon's Kayla Hayes.  This was one of the previously mentioned breakout performances of the weekend.  Hayes did not break 20:40 last year and has now put herself in a great spot to add herself to the ~220 Suffolk runners who have broken 20 minutes.  She is the clear favorite for the Class C title.  The only other Suffolk runner was Comsewogue's Madison Cole who stopped the clock in 20:58.  

West Babylon, one of the preseason team favorites, had a dominating win over an excellent Class B team (Pearl River).  West Babylon has established themselves as a major threat to win the Class A title.  If they can close down their spread, with the natural improvements that most runners make throughout the season, West Babylon will likely have three runners in the low 20 range.  A slow start from last year's State Qualifier Kristen Aguilera makes them even more dangerous once she gets back to full strength.  Their fourth girl, Alejandra Garcia is also someone who can improve a ton.  She had a lot of success in spring in both the Steeplechase and 3000.  They averaged 21:48 and that number is expected to drop significantly by the end of the season.  

Some other Section XI teams and individuals had notable performances outside of Suffolk County yesterday.  

One of West Babylon's main rivals this year for the team title, East Islip, traveled to Van Cortlandt Park and took the team title over Bronxville by 13 points.  East Islip had four runners finish before any other team had three and they rode that to the team victory.  East Islip, like Northport, is led by three sisters.  Danielle Simonetti has stepped up to be the leader for them and she is only a freshman.  Her two sisters, Kathryn and Olivia finished 9th and 10th overall and they were followed closely by teammate Grace Micali.  All four runners broke 17 minutes at Van Cortlandt which is very similarly speed rated to the 2.5 course at Sunken Meadow.  The one minute gap between their four and five runners will need to be addressed in the future.  Section XI's class A title may be decided by who's fifth runner can step up the most.  West Babylon, Northport, and East Islip all need to find a way to close down their spread and whoever does, may be heading upstate.  

Bayport's Sophia McInnes had a big day up at the Queensbury Invite.  She went upstate to race Saratoga and Bethlehem, the top team in the country and last year's third place Federation finisher, and she placed herself in the top 10.  She finished 8th in 18:42 in arguably Section XI's top cross country female performance of the weekend.  

Many Suffolk teams went up to the Suffern Invitational at Bear Mountain State Park.  Bear Mountain is only three miles, but it is a difficult course run mostly on pavement.  Bay Shore and Northport, two of the pre-season top 3 class A teams headed upstate but were in different races.  

In the Varsity A race, one of Suffolk's top runners, Jake Gogarty finished second in a quick 16:06.  He was the top Suffolk runner on the day at Bear Mountain and the top Suffolk runner by 33 seconds over his teammate Peter Bagattine.  Bay Shore finished third in the team race and will look to increase their depth later in the season.  

Northport led the way in the Varsity B race by taking the team title by scoring 73 points behind their Senior Tim Sheahan who finished fourth in 16:21.  He was joined in the top 10 by much improved Junior Brandon Cruz who was 6th in 16:28. After the second weekend of the season, Northport seems to be the favorite for the Class A title but they will look to shrink the gap between their four and five (a common theme in Suffolk this fall).  Ward Melville, Bay Shore, and Smithtown will have to make improvements the next seven weeks to make states.  In the merge, Northport ended up over 100 points ahead of Bay Shore and captured first place in the overall team scores.  

Meanwhile, the girls race had Northport, last year's Section XI champions, debut in their first invitational of the season.  In a strange move, 8th grader Mia Wickard ran in the Varsity A race and the rest of the team ran in the Varsity B race.  Mia took the lead around 1000m into the race and never looked back.  She ended up with the fastest time of the day by 29 seconds and was the only runner under 19 minutes on what seemed to be a relatively slow day.  

Northport ended up getting second in the Varsity B race as a team behind Mia's two sisters Emily and Finnley.  Both sisters were in the low 19's for second and third place, but, it was not enough to beat a tough Somers team.   Since Northport had varsity runners in two races, they did end up having the best team performance in the merge where they went 1-5-7 from the three Wickard sisters.  Mia ended up with the fastest speed rating of the day by a half second over McInnes with both runners being credited with a 120 rating.  Northport, like every Section XI team on the boys and girls side, with the exception of Sayville, needs to figure out their fifth runner by the end of the season.  A 3 minute spread will cost major points at any big meet for all of these top teams.  

Like many of the weekends over the last 3+ years, the performance of the weekend came from William Floyd's sophomore sensation Zariel Macchia.  Zariel decided to take on the nations best road racers over 10k at the US 10k Road Race Championships at The Great Cow Harbor Run.  She ended up finishing the 10k race in 35:58, which was good enough for 18th place on the women's side.  To give reference to this performance, the state record on the track is 35:24 which was set by Footlocker champion Erin Davis from Saratoga Springs.  The Cow Harbor course is very hilly and difficult which probably makes this the best 10,000m performance ever run by a NYS High School girl.  John Glenn's Emily LaMena also ran the race and finished in JUST over 39 minutes in an excellent 39:01.  She will be a part of the extremely competitive Class B girls race in November.  Lamena, McInnes, Baumeller, Sheiffele, Sheiffele, Gabrielson, Morris, Pesso, and Cashin will have one of the most compelling Class races in recent years in November.  It may take a performance under 20 minutes to make states from a Class B runner and Sayville has a chance to be the top team in the entire county.   

Next week is the Suffolk Coaches Invitational at Sunken Meadow.  With many teams' fifth runners being question marks and the seemingly increase in top level competition (especially on the girls side), the next 7 weeks should be a lot of fun to watch.