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Sep 9, 2019 3:33 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

East Hampton Boys, Girls Cross Country Teams Expect To Be In The Mix By The End Of The Season

The Lady Bonackers cross country team this season will include Ava Engstrom, Mimi Fowkes, Summer Klarman, Emma Hren, Bella Tarbet, Dylan Cashin and Ryleigh O’Donnell. KYRIL BROMLEY
Sep 10, 2019 1:54 PM

With Ryan Fowkes, one of the program’s strongest runners since Erik Engstrom, and Ethan McCormac both having graduated at the end of last season, the East Hampton boys cross country team is going to have to rely on its young crop of runners for the upcoming season.

Bonac head coach Kevin Barry is quite all right with that.

Of the 24 runners on the team, 11 are sophomores, led by Evan Masi, who just missed out on qualifying for states individually by a single placement last season. Amari Gordon, Aidan Klarman and Colin Schaefer are all sophomores as well, for whom Barry has high hopes.

“It’s a young team that’s going to go through some growing pains early on, but they’re all great athletes, they’re all eager to do well and I couldn’t be happier through the first two weeks of practice,” Barry said.

That’s not to say there won’t be a senior presence on the team to help steer the young runners in the right direction. Frank Bellucci, Nicolas Villante, Henry Saar and Emilio Flores are all providing the team with leadership this season. Bellucci and Villante are the only runners that remain from the Bonackers’ county title and state qualifying team in 2017, and are team captains.

East Hampton will continue to compete in League VI dual meets, where it will have to put up with the top three Class B teams on Long Island in Westhampton Beach, Miller Place and Sayville, respectively, and all three teams are also ranked in the state going into the season. Amityville, Shoreham/Wading River and Mount Sinai are also in the league.

Barry is hoping that a similar situation like last season comes true, when the team went 2-4 in league meets only to finish as runner-ups to Westhampton Beach in the county.

“We peaked at end of the season, and that’s what we want to do again, is peak in November,” he said. “I expect us to do well by the end of the season.”

East Hampton, boys and girls, hosted their first meet of the season on Tuesday against Mount Sinai. It was the first ever dual meet to actually be held on school grounds at East Hampton High. The reason was because the glamping sites at Cedar Point County Park were taking up the part the Bonackers use as a home course. Barry came across that reality a few weeks back when he went to go measure out the course. Glamping, as he came to find out, goes on through the weekends through September. East Hampton will also compete at the Jim Smith Invitational at Sunken Meadow Park in Kings Park this Saturday, September 14. East Hampton’s sophomores are expected to do well; they won the freshman race last year.

Girls

While the boys are getting younger, for the most part, the Lady Bonackers are on the opposite end of the spectrum, with their young runners now blossoming into strong, experienced runners. Ava Engstrom and Bella Tarbet, both juniors now, have been up on varsity for four and three years, respectively, and were easy selections to be named team captains by head coach Diane O’Donnell.

Engstrom is looking to qualify for the state meet for the third time this season, while Tarbet has been the first person to miss on qualifying for states the past two seasons, and O’Donnell said she’ll be gunning for that elusive trip once again this season.

“Not only are they strong runners, but they’re good role models, hard workers, they reinforce each other a lot, and they’re very good with the young ones, which is going to be key for us,” O’Donnell said.

Returning with Engstrom and Tarbet are Emma Hren and Megan “Mimi” Fowkes, but the rest of the team is new to varsity. That includes freshman Summer Klarman and eighth-graders Dylan Cashin and Ryleigh O’Donnell, no relation to the head coach.

Despite only having seven runners on the team this season — a team needs to have five in a meet to score — O’Donnell likes what she has this year.

“You only need five to score, so if somebody goes down, we wouldn’t have to forfeit,” she explained. “We’ve been a small team for the past few years, but this is a dedicated group of girls. They’re not the kind of team that will let each other down. They will show for each other. It’s a really good group and the eighth graders are excited to be up with the varsity. The three girls that we brought up are 1, 2 and 4 from the middle school team last year, so I expect them to be right in the mix with the top three that I have.

“This is a hard-working team. They want to go places and are very excited for the season, especially Ava and Bella. They’re super excited to have young runners and they’ve set some season goals and are looking forward to competing.”

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