In an unprecedented turn of events for cross country in Suffolk County, the Section XI (Suffolk County) cross country championships—otherwise known as the State Qualifying Meet—that were scheduled for Wednesday, November 7, at Sunken Meadow Park were canceled due to the nor’easter that came through the area.
Section XI decided to use the results from the Division Championships, which were contested at Sunken Meadow back on October 23, to determine which runners would advance to the state meet, which took place at Elma Meadows, in the Buffalo area of upstate New York, on Saturday. (For results, see separate article). That means the top teams in each class from the division meet sent a team, then the next top five individual runners from each class outside of that winning team also made the trip upstate.
Head coach Dave Oakley, who has been coaching at Hampton Bays for 40 years, said he can’t recall a time when they’ve actually canceled a meet such as the State Qualifier. “It’s unfortunate for some runners who didn’t have a good division meet,” he said.
Oakley said some of the county’s top runners, including Ryleigh Donegan of Center Moriches, missed the cut for the state meet because they didn’t run so well at the division meet. Oakley had his top runner, Shanna Heaney, upstate, though—she finished the division meet in 21:13.5, which qualified her as one of the top five runners in Class C.
Nick Berglin represented Hampton Bays at the state meet. He finished the Division Championship in 18:02.1 to qualify as one of the top five runners. Babylon won the Class C title for the boys.
The cancelation of the State Qualifier was particularly tough on the Eastport South Manor boys team. The Sharks won the Division III meet but were not the top team in Class B, something they were hoping to rectify at the State Qualifier. Shoreham/Wading River won Class B and sent its runners upstate.
ESM head coach Mike Doyle understood the decision to cancel the State Qualifier but said he was still disappointed that his runners wouldn’t have a shot to go upstate. “This is the craziest set of circumstances I’ve ever seen,” the 14-year head coach said. “The team worked out the whole week they were off. They got together themselves and they were ready.
“Other kids in the county fared much worse, though,” Doyle added. “Some of the best runners didn’t run at divisionals, or just didn’t take it seriously.”
Tom Meehan represented the Sharks upstate. He finished the divisional meet in 16:33, which put him as one of the top five qualifiers. Doyle said he was hoping Gary Murano would qualify—the senior missed the cut for the state meet by just 1.7 seconds—but he didn’t get the chance. “He was very disappointed,” Doyle said. “He worked a whole year toward being at the state meet.”
As for the ESM girls, Nicole Scafer and Alex DeCicco competed upstate.
Westhampton Beach didn’t send any runners to states. Lady Hurricanes head coach John Broich said his top runner, Steph Vickers, missed the cut by about 30 seconds, even though her time at the division meet, 20:56.5, qualified her as All-County. Jim Ford, the Hurricanes boys head coach, said that none of his runners made the cut.
Southampton sent two runners upstate: Isabella Franz represented the girls, while Kevin McCabe competed for the boys. Franz finished the division meet in 21:48.1, while McCabe finished his race in 18:11.5.
Pierson did not have runners compete at states.
The East Hampton cross country program sent just one runner upstate, Dana Cebulski. She finished the division meet in 20:23.8 and was one of the top five qualifiers in Class B.
The boys did not send anyone. “Thank God we don’t have any seniors,” head coach Kevin Barry said, “because for those types of kids to work all summer long and into this season, and then because of one day not be able to make it, that’s disappointing for them. But my whole team will be back, and we’re looking forward to next year.”