Suffolk Spotlight: Week 8 - Division Champs

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

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The 2022 Division Championships were held on Tuesday October 25th (and Thursday October 27th) on an unseasonably warm day. Many runners struggled with the heat and the times were slowed because of that.  Unfortunately, a handful of athletes had to be transferred to local hospitals with heat related issues and the last four races of the meet were postponed for two days.  (At the time of this article, as far as we know, all athletes are doing fine and have recovered).

If you have never been to, heard about, or checked the results of a Section XI Division Meet, it can be pretty confusing.  The Championship race will crown the "best team in the county".  After those results come out, the Divisions are filtered in the results and then posted below.  For example, Port Jefferson can finish in 9th place and be crowned Division 4 champions because that is where they finish against schools with similar school populations.  Generally, the larger schools finish the highest here but as we have seen in the past with Shoreham, Miller Place, Westhampton Beach, and Sayville...just to name a few, they can win or get very close.  

As far as individual honors that come from this meet, usually the Runner of the Year (Sectional MVP) comes from this meet.  All Division honors will come from the top 20 runners in EACH Division (80 total) after the results are merged.  You can get all-division from the non-championship races.  Now, the most confusing part is the All-County honors part of this.  In the MERGED results of the Division Meet AND the Sectional Meet (November 4th), they take the top 40 runners using the formula of Division Place in Merge x 2 + Sectional Place in Merge x 3. The lowest score you can record is five and you get that if you finish first at Divisions in the merge (1x2) and first in the Sectional Meet merge (1x3) (2+3=5).  After that, five more runners who may have had injuries or illnesses receive all-county based on their fastest time at either one of those races in descending order.

Many of last week's predictions came to fruition on the team side.  Girls Division 4 was led by Mt. Sinai who put together their full team for the first time and dominated.  They were led by their star junior Paige Sheiffele.  She ran the best race of her season and ran a performance similar to her race at last year's Sectional Championship meet and finished in 20:12 to get third overall.  Behind her Emily LaMena from John Glenn and star 7th grade Cali Gabrielson (Sheiffele's teammate) were the next two division four finishers.  Sayville being so strong means that  Mount Sinai will look to have two individual qualifiers for the state meet next week. **Absent from the results was Bayport's Sophia McInnes who was one of the runners who struggled with the heat. She was running an incredible race and was going to go well under 19 minutes but had trouble staying on her feet during the final straightaway.

The most impressive team performance on the girls side came from Sayville. Sayville dominantly won their Division and also won the entire meet with the merged results.  Junior Mullane Baumiller stepped up like she has all season and was their first finisher in second overall and just missed breaking 20 minutes in an impressive 20:03.  She will be their low stick at states and give them an excellent chance to finish on the podium at VVS.  Sayville has a young team and can be even stronger next year.  Behind Baumiller was Shoreham's Olivia Pesso whomst solidified her status as a major favorite to make the state meet in the difficult class B race next week.  If Sayville wins, Pesso, Sheiffele, LaMena, Gabrielson, and McInnes seem in line to grab the five individual spots but Dylan Cashin, Oona Murphy, and Ava Morris are all close enough to step up if someone falters.   

Division two was a very close race between champion East Islip and second place Northport.  Both teams seemed to be holding back slightly and seem to be pointing more towards next week.  Anna Gansrow had the best race of her season and was the clear Division 2 winner.  She ran 20:16 to finish fourth overall and will be a state qualifier for the second year in a row if she can replicate that performance on November 4th.  North Babylon's Alicia DiFilippis was fourth in the Division right behind the Wickard sister's who were the only other Division 2 runners under 21 minutes.  All three were in the top 12 overall and have an excellent chance to make states.  East Islip's top four seem to have held back and if that pack can move up next Friday, they may be able to beat Northport.  Northport ended up ahead of East Islip in the merge but was clearly behind them in Division 2.    

Division 1 was witness to an absolute clinic put on by William Floyd's star Zariel Macchia.  Her margin of victory was tremendous (although McInnes was with her for the majority of the race) and was the only boy or girl to run very fast on a tough day.  She now sits in front of Brittany Sheffey in 8th place all time for Suffolk runners.  Behind her state qualifier hopeful Amanda Probst from Ward Melville was second in 21:05 and Mackenzie Newman vaulted herself into the state qualifier picture by finishing only one second behind in 21:06.  Ward Melville squeaked by William Floyd to get the win 49 to 54.  Both teams will need to hope their 4-5 runners move up in order to get close to East Islip, Northport and West Babylon.

Boys Division 4, Port Jefferson showed why they're the best team in Class D on Long Island by scoring only 24 points.  They had all five of their runners in the top 9 Division 4.  Trevor Zappulla from Mattituck had the fastest time just ahead of Port Jefferson senior Brendon Capadanno 17:42 to 17:50.  Both should make it to the state meet after next Friday.  No other runners were under 18:10.

Division 3 boys had the fastest time of the day.  Max Haynia kept his streak of being Suffolk's top streak going as he was one of only two boys under 17 minutes.  He stopped the clock at 16:38.  It shows how slow the conditions were considering he went well under 16:30 earlier in the season.  Haynia is the overwhelming favorite to win the Class B title on November 4th and is one of the highest ranked runners in the state.  Behind him Benjamin Wyszomierski finished second in 17:51 but he absolutely dominated the "longest name award".   Last week we mentioned how Miller Place has been improving very quickly BUT, it might be a little early.  It is not too early for Miller Place.  They showed that it is their race to lose on November 4th by easily outdistancing Harborfields and Westhampton Beach.  Westhamton Beach was missing one of their top runners, but even if you put him in second place behind Haynia, they still would finish third.  

Northport dominated Division 2 by taking the team title with only 21 points.  They were also the overall meet champion, easily outdistancing Bay Shore.  They placed all five of their runners in the top 10 of Division 2 and are a clear favorite to repeat again next week.  Eastport South Manor's Luke Pfeiffer was the first Division 2 runner in 17:09.  He will have a great shot to make states as an individual.  Northport had their top three all under 17:30 and will have a strong advantage over any other team with those three up front.  Matt Armstrong from Huntington is also in an excellent spot to make states as he finished in 17:19.  

Division 1 was the deepest race on the boys' side.  The individual matchup between Bay Shore's Jake Gogarty, Ward Melville's Brian Leibowitz, and Smithtown's Douglas Antaky was a great one on paper.  Gogarty, a junior, got the best of the other two today when he finished second overall to Haynia and was the top Division 1 finisher and the second of only two runners under 17.  He ran 16:50 and Antaky crossed the line behind him in 17:00 (Leibowitz may not have liked the heat and finished in 18:03, a bit off his personal best).  Bay Shore had a good day overall and easily outclassed Commack, Ward Melville, and Smithtown.  With important Federation bids on the line, these four teams need to do everything they can on November 4th to increase their chances because Northport seems to be a step ahead.  

The Division Championships were not the only meet at Sunken Meadow this week.  The Frosh/Soph Championships were held Friday.  In a strange move, after 25+ years of the races from this meet matching the dual meet course (3 miles 20+ years ago, 2.8 miles for a few years, and lately 2.5 miles), the meet decided to change the course to the Bob Pratt "novice" course that is 3800 meters.  Unfortunately, the freshman and sophomores did not get one more opportunity at the end of the season to beat their dual meet times and instead ran a new course that is difficult to compare anything to.  Even though they did not get a chance to set a personal record, they did get to see where they matched up with other runners from their grade on a course they may never run again.   

On the girls side, many of the top freshmen and sophomores don't run this meet because they are getting ready for the Sectional Championships which is a week later.  The boy's side however, usually gives a decent indicator to future success a couple of years down the road.  

We aren't going to spend a ton of time on this meet because most of the top athletes are not running it but there were a few noteworthy performances.  Connetquot's Olivia DiGaetano absolutely dominated the girls freshman race winning by nearly a minute (there is nothing to compare the times to because this course is a random, made up distance).  She had the fastest time of the day by 55 seconds on the girls side.

Lindenhurst sophomore Jake Albert had the fastest boys time of the day in just over 13 minutes to win by 18 seconds over Gavin DeVito from West Islip.  The top runners at this meet usually have a good chance to be All-County with a good race on November 4th.