The East Hampton boys and girls cross country teams hosted their first ever home meets on the grounds of East Hampton High School on September 10 against Mount Sinai, and they have glamping to thank for it.
The majority of cross country teams in Suffolk County have their meets held at county parks, such as Sunken Meadow in Kings Park and Red Creek in Hampton Bays, and the Bonackers typically host their home meets at Cedar Point in East Hampton. A few weeks ago, East Hampton boys head coach Kevin Barry went to Cedar Point to check on the course and make sure it was set for their first meet of the season. What Barry came across were the glamping sites — the high-end, “glamorous” side of traditional camping — that the park hosts throughout the summer and through September covering up much of the course.
With a new site needed, Barry thought, why not have the first ever cross country meet at the high school? He measured out a flat, 2.5-mile course — the minimum distance needed for a varsity race — that spanned the outer border of the high school campus, and checked with the Mount Sinai coaches that they would be okay with it. They were and last week the two teams met for what were their season openers.
Mount Sinai won both races — the boys won, 34-24, and the girls won, 36-21 — but East Hampton may have still come out with a victory; Spectators, administrators, runners and coaches all loved the meet and how smooth it went and an invitational is now in the works to be held during East Hampton’s homecoming week, most likely Thursday, October 3, and will feature East End teams, such as Shelter Island and Southampton.
As for the races themselves, East Hampton sophomore Evan Masi crushed the field individually, finishing in 13:17, about a minute ahead of the next finisher. But the Mustangs took the next two placements, which put Bonac in a tough spot to win the meet. Amari Gordon, a sophomore in his first varsity race, finished in 14:10, just a second and a half away from second place, but behind the two Mount Sinai runners for fourth place. Aidan Klarman, another sophomore, was the next Bonacker to cross the finish line, in 14:45 and in seventh place.
Barry thought that coming into the season there would be some growing pains for his young team made up of mostly sophomores and freshmen. But, despite the loss, he’s thinking there may not be growing pains at all.
“I was really pumped up by these guys. All of our top three guys were sophomores,” he said.
The Lady Bonackers were a bit behind the eight ball going into the meet; Mount Sinai’s Sarah Connelly is the reigning New York State Class B Champion, and she showed she’s still a force to be reckoned with last week by winning the race. Along with Connelly, the Lady Mustangs possess two nationally ranked runners and wound up taking the first, second and third placements to win the meet.
Ava Engstrom ran strong for East Hampton, finishing first for the team, fourth overall, in 16:40. Head coach Diane O’Donnell said for her to be within striking distance of Connelly this early in the season was a feat in and of itself. Bella Tarbet finished second for East Hampton, fifth overall, in 16:52, and Dylan Cashin and Ryleigh O’Donnell, both in their first varsity meet as eighth-graders, were the next in for the Lady Bonackers at 17:11 and 18:02, respectively.
“As I said to the girls after the meet, [Connelly] is peaking now — we have the whole season to catch up,” she said. “Really the last meet of the season at the division meet is where the girls usually shine and others who have been training for a long time kind of fall apart. So again, overall I’m happy with what they did and that they still fought hard even though they knew what they were up against coming into the meet.”
The East Hampton boys won the freshman class race at last year’s Jim Smith and that same group was victorious once again this past Saturday at Sunken Meadow, but as sophomores this time around.
Despite getting lost along the trail a few times, Masi won the sophomore 5K race in 18:09.82. Amari Gordon was next in for Bonac, 19th overall out of 182 runners, in 19:48.34, followed by Colin Schaefer, who finished 27th overall, in 20:07.27. Barry said it was Gordon and Schaefer’s first time running at Sunken Meadow and they did very well.
This year’s crop of freshmen did well, finishing 10th out of 28 schools, in the 1.5-mile race. Cooper Ceva led that group, finishing 19th out of 188 runners, in 8:33.84.
Barry said none of his seniors made the trip due to taking the ACT, and the same went for the girls. Engstrom placed eighth out of 120 runners in the junior class 5K race in 21:41.40 and Tarbet finished 14th in 22:33.90. O’Donnell said both girls greatly improved their times at Sunken Meadow from last year. Cashin finished 11th out of 154 runners in the freshman 1.5-mile race in 9:28.96, and Ryleigh O’Donnell finished 24th in 10:02.66. Emma Hren, working her way back after a two-week bout with the flu, finished 29th out of 108 runners in the sophomore race in 25:35.68.