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Nov 6, 2018 10:44 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

East Hampton's Ryan Fowkes, Ava Engstrom Qualify For State Meet

East Hampton senior Ethan McCormac leads a pack of runner early in Friday's race. MICHELLE MALONE
Nov 6, 2018 10:44 AM

The East Hampton boys cross country team did everything it could to defend its Suffolk County Class B title on Friday afternoon at the Section XI Championships, or state qualifier, at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park. In the end, their fellow East End counterparts to the west proved to be too much.

Westhampton Beach ran away with this year’s Class B crown after finishing the 5K race with 41 points, 60 points ahead of the second place Bonackers. East Hampton head coach Kevin Barry was proud of the way his team came ready to race on Friday. The Bonackers were seeded seventh but finished well ahead of higher seeded teams, such as Kings Park and Sayville.

“They took defending their county title very seriously,” Barry said of his runners. “Six of the seven runners ran not only their personal bests for Sunken Meadow, but for a 5K, so they did well. Kudos to Westhampton Beach for running a really great race.”

Ryan Fowkes was the lone Bonacker to qualify for the New York State Championships, which are this Saturday, November 10, back at Sunken Meadow. The senior placed third overall in 17:32. Barry said Fowkes’s goal at states this weekend is to finish in the top 24 so he can reach All-State status.

Evan Masi finished eighth overall in 17:59 and was the first runner to miss out on qualifying for states, but he did set a new school record as the fastest freshman at Sunken Meadow, breaking Erik Engstrom’s previous record of 18:10. Barry was impressed by all of his freshmen, which included Masi, Aidan Klarman and Joshua Vazquez, all of whom replaced those who graduated from last year’s county championship team. Klarman finished 38th in 18:59 and Vazquez finished 44th in 19:02.

Ethan McCormac was in about 40th place before reaching Cardiac Hill but he made up a number of placements between there and the finish line, about a mile stretch, Barry said. He finished 18th overall in 18:27 in what was his final race as a senior. Frank Bellucci, a junior, placed 41st in 19:02, and junior Nicolas Villante finished 56th in 19:45.


Ava Engstrom, for the second consecutive season, qualified for the state meet after placing fifth overall in the girls Class B race in 20:15, which is a new school record for the 5K course at Sunken Meadow. She surpassed Dana Cebulski’s previous record of 20:20.

The Class B girls race was a bit interesting. Mount Sinai was thought to be the favorite, and when Sarah Connelly and Kaitlyn Chandrika crossed the finish line in first and second place for the Lady Mustangs, it was assumed that they would win the county title, but that didn’t happen. Kings Park, with its first two runners placing ninth and 10th, ended up winning the county title, and because their first runners placed so high, that meant finishing in the top five overall in the county and qualifying for states was going to be difficult.

“When I knew Kings Park was going to win, I was yelling at Ava to hold her place because I could see a Miller Place girl trying to catch her,” East Hampton head coach Diane O’Donnell said. “But she had her eye on the prize. It was a great race and it was great that she was able to get the school record. Now we’ll see what she can do this weekend.”

Unfortunately for sophomore Bella Tarbet, she was once again on the outside looking in. After being the first runner to miss out on qualifying for states last year, Tarbet placed 12th overall and five spots out of a qualifying placement, in 21:40 on Friday. O’Donnell noted that Tarbet missed the first few weeks of the season due to a broken toe she suffered while competing with town lifeguards over the summer and it slowed down her improvement a bit.

“She beat a lot of people she hadn’t beaten before, but she needed to make a giant leap,” she said. “She really needed another two weeks of a season and she would have been right there. I’m hoping next year she’ll get more summer training. She knows what she has to do now. She’s tired of being the first girl to miss. I’m really proud of her. She held herself together and took it like a champ, but hopefully next year is her year.”

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