Having graduated just one athlete last season, the East Hampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton girls track team is back in full force and planning to improve upon last year’s one-win campaign.
To help accomplish that, a number of winter indoor athletes are back helping to lead the team, including East Hampton senior JiJi Kramer, juniors Megan “Mimi” Fowkes and Lillie Minskoff and sophomores Ava Engstrom, Bella Espinoza and Bella Tarbet, and Pierson sophomore Penelope Greene. Kramer and Fowkes create a strong race walk tandem for the Lady Bonackers while Engstrom, Tarbet and Greene will be strong mid to long distance runners. Minskoff is a sprinter and Espinoza gives the team key points in the pole vault. Engstrom, Tarbet, Espinoza and East Hampton junior Mikella Junemann (high jump) all reached the state qualifier last season and head coach Yani Cuesta is hoping they all at least repeat that this season.
Minskoff, East Hampton senior Helen Barranco, East Hampton junior Jen Ortiz and Pierson sophomore Ellie Borzilleri just missed out on making state qualifiers last season and Cuesta is hoping they each take a step forward this season. Minskoff should compete in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, while Ortiz competes in the triple jump and Barranco in the discus. Borzilleri could compete in the hurdles, 400-meter dash and long jump, or, she can put all of her talents together for the pentathlon. And Pierson freshman Grace Brosnan is entering her first varsity outdoor season, but she showed great promise this winter, particularly in the high jump and hurdling events.
“The newer athletes still remain to show us what they can truly do,” Cuesta said. “It’s always really difficult to jump right into competition because we’ve been focused on conditioning. Our focus will be for each individual athlete to get better, stronger, and faster at each of their events.”
Miller Place won the League VI title last season with an undefeated 5-0 record and Westhampton Beach will have a strong team this season as well. Sayville consistently puts out a strong team, while Amityville and Wyandanch—which competed in League VII last season, make up the rest of the league.
The Lady Bonackers hosted Westhampton Beach on Wednesday and will host Sayville in their next meet on April 3 at 4:30 p.m. East Hampton hosts its invitational this year on April 10 and 11.
What the East Hampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton boys track team lacks in overall experience it makes up for in sheer numbers with nearly 50 young athletes filling out the team this spring. That’s not to say the Bonackers won’t have any veteran leadership. Seniors Ryan Fowkes and Matt Maya led the winter indoor team and will continue to do so this spring and are each looking for strong finishes to their high school careers.
Fowkes, who recently committed to George Washington University, is eying a trip to the state meet in the mile. His head coach, Ben Turnbull, said Fowkes is hoping to finish under 4:20 in the event this season. As for Maya, due to his versatility across multiple events, he’ll be the team’s leading point scorer this season in dual meets and is looking to break the school record in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles.
Turnbull said that Pierson sophomore Colin Harrison will be a standout in the long jump and sprints while East Hampton junior Frank Bellucci will have a breakout season in the mid-distance runs. East Hampton junior Kevin Ayavaca will also be strong in the sprints and discus, and East Hampton freshman Evan Masi has switched his focus from lacrosse to the track, with his niche being the distance running events.
Turnbull said that it will still be tough for his team to defeat perennial strong programs in Miller Place, Sayville and Westhampton Beach, but it should be competitive with Amityville and Wyandanch. Shoreham/Wading River, which won the league title with an undefeated record last season, has moved down to League VII.
The Bonackers got their dual-meet season underway on Tuesday at Westhampton Beach and will be at Sayville on Tuesday, April 2, at 4:30 p.m.