Notebook: Cummings comes home; Change brewing at Columbus

Notebook: Cummings comes home; Change brewing at Columbus


The last time Laura Cummings’ name circuited through Long Island track, it was as an All-American distance runner at Bay Shore High School. Now Cummings, a former standout at the University of North Carolina and Albany, is sharing her experience as the girls’ cross country coach at Manhasset High School in Nassau County.

“It’s been an interesting experience,” said Cummings, who served as an assistant coach at Manhasset during the 2011 outdoor season.  “Coaching is definitely different.”

Cummings returns junior Mary Welsh, who camped at Duke University this summer and finished 28th at the NYSPHSAA Class A champs as a sophomore. She has taken to training with her 10-deep team, and believes it’s helped her connect with her athletes.

“They open up a little bit more when you’re running with them,” said Cummings. “They know that I’m doing it and I’m willing to do it, and I know they’re willing to do it.”

Manhasset’s main rival in Section 8 is state power North Shore.

“I already worked at the Foundation camp with (North Shore coach) Neal Levy,” said Cummings. “He’s someone that I look up to as a coach. Even though they are really competitive, it helps to have them competing with us.”

Cummings is currently training for triathlons.

“People say that the running is the most important part,” said Cummings. “The swim, I still need to work on that.”


  • Senior Charlie Morris and junior Stephen Bourguet, who finished 11th and 14th at last year’s NYSPHSAA Class A championship, lead a young Manhasset boys team.  Morris, a former baseball player who finished 39th at the State Federation champs, made a full commitment to running last year when he did all three seasons.

“He’ll probably project as a 5K runner in college,” said Manhasset coach Steve Steiner of Morris, who also runs the steeplechase on the track. “He’s phenomenally-gifted aerobically.”

Steiner replaced the late Don Scott at Manhasset last year. Scott coached the Manhasset program for 43 years.

“Really, I’ve inherited the program that he built,” said Steiner.


  • When Steve Bonica replaced Michael Pearson as the boys track coach at Columbus High School in the Bronx in May, he decided that a change was needed in the program’s culture. Bonica inherited a six-man team, including national 600-meter record-holder Strymar Livington. What was missing was that inclusiveness about the sport that he had known.

“I inherited a team where the attitude was, ‘If you’re not an elite runner, we don’t want you here,'” said Bonica. “That’s what I’m fighting against.”

Columbus, led by Livingston and 200/400 man Davion Wint, placed third at the PSAL City Championships.

“We had six guys standing up there (at the awards ceremony) with these other teams,” said Bonica. “They scored 30, 40 points. What if we had 26 guys, or 36 guys?”

Bonica teaches Earth Science at the Columbus campus, which will soon be composed of seven individual schools, with nearly 3,000 total students. He aims to bring the masses out.

 “My biggest goal for this year is building a team,” said Bonica, who ran at Metuchen High School in New Jersey. “My goal is to get more bodies out there. There’s so much talent walking around in the halls of these schools.”


  • Springfield Gardens runner Damion Walker closed the year well, finishing sixth in the 800 meters at the State Federation champs following an exciting duel with Strymar Livingston at the PSAL Cities that was won by Livingston, 1:52.86-1:52.93.

Walker plans to enroll at a college in January.  

“I reached out to a lot of schools and a lot of them wanted him to drop time,” said Springfield Gardens track coach Charlie Yarborough, who ran at Syracuse. “These were elite junior colleges. Damion is a 1:53 runner. They said when he hit 1:51, to call them.”

This fall, Walker will workout with his club team, the Ruff Kutz, coached by Charles Weekes.

"He's got wicked determination and good work habits," said Yarborough.



  • Long Beach sprinter Josh Trone, the State Federation champion in the 100 meters, will be missed at the school. Not only did he help bring Long Beach its first division championship in 30 years, but he made track popular again.

“He’s a basketball player as well, and he brought a bunch of the starters from the team out to the track team,” said Long Beach coach Greg Milone. “That really helped us."

Trone will run at Nassau Community College this year.


  • Christian Fuller was hired as the men’s and women’s cross country coach at SUNY-Purchase College.