By Christopher Hunt
BEAR MOUNTAIN – Alex Saavedra had just finished disposing the field without seeing another runner until after he crossed the finish line. Even then, the next runner he saw was teammate Joe DiRienzo securing the 1-2 finish. Sachem East had a reason to smile.
“The plan was to laugh about it,” Sachem East coach Joe Orenzo said. “We wanted to give it to everybody but we wanted to go out there and have fun with it too.”
It’s an attitude change for Sachem East, which won the boys Varsity B race at the Suffern Invitational Saturday at Bear Mountain with 44 points. Pearl River finished second with 67. DiRienzo said the team put too much weight on last season and ended up limping to finish with an eighth-place showing in Class AA at the state meet. DiRiezno suffered a late season stress fracture and dropped out of the race and Phil Rascona fell ill before the meet and struggled.
Saavedra won in 15:31.46, the fastest time of the day on the 3-mile course. DiRienzo followed in 16:15.46. Rascona finished ninth in 15:56.14. But Orenzo was especially satisfied with the back end of his group. Zach Patsy was 15th and Franklin Perez 17th.
“We have a strong five up front,” Orenzo said. “Losing Mike Richards to graduation was a hit but, as evidenced by today, we have a strong, deep team.”
Sachem East also tots an aggressive front man. Saavedra didn’t waste a second separating himself from the race. “My plan was just to have a good race,” he said. “I think maybe I went out a little too hard. But I felt good. I know in bigger races it won’t be like that.”
Suffern won the Varsity A race ahead of second-place Northport, 40-60. Suffern senior Tyler Frigge earned his first win at his home invitational in 15:55.32. Frigge floated off the starting line and by the time the field reached the signature hill at Bear Mountain it looked like Eastchester’s Victor Palumbo had buried him. But Frigge began to reel in Palumbo through the second mile and jumped him in the stretch. Palumbo was second in 16:05.17.
“I just went out too comfortably,” Frigge said. “I honestly didn’t think that I would catch him. I just wanted to run a decent time.”
But Frigged realized he regained contact with around a quarter-mile left and took off. It was indication of his entire Mounties team.
“Today was OK,” Suffern coach Joe Biddy said. “I think everybody was hoping for a little faster times. These high school kids, they have to train themselves into shape.”
Biddy said he told the team to back off in the first mile.
“They backed off too much,” he said. “They could have all run 15 seconds faster in the first mile and they would have finished the same way. They are fine.”
Pine Bush claimed the Varsity C race holding off White Plains, 40-48. Despite the inherent clique, head coach Al Schmidt had every reason to call it a “complete team win.” Pine Bush put 4 in the top 9 finishers, led by seniors Derek Lake (16:38.60) and Michael Ramos (16:46.49) who finished third and fourth, respectively.
White Plains senior Peter Gelston won the Varsity C race in 16:12.24. Gelston, who’s cousins is Villanova freshman Emily Lipari, corralled the lead early and refused to allow East Meadow’s Sean Grady to make a serious move. Grady placed second in 16:19.58.
“I heard him,” said Gelston, “I felt it. Every time I turned a corner I could see him getting closer. I didn’t want to do all that work just to give the race away. “
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.