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Nov 5, 2018 3:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Boys Cross Country Wins First-Ever County Title

The Hurricanes turn a corner together on the 5K course at Sunken Meadow Park on Friday afternoon. MICHELLE MALONE
Nov 6, 2018 4:59 PM

Westhampton Beach head coach Jim Ford typically goes into the boys cross country season with a few plans and, for whatever reason, those plans tend to go awry by the end of the season.This season was different.

Even though he only went into this fall with about 10 runners—one of the smallest rosters he’s had in his 20-year tenure as head coach—the Hurricanes were able to fend off any adversity throughout much of the season, including the Section XI Championships, or state qualifier, on Friday afternoon at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park. It led them to a Suffolk County Class B Championship, the first in program history, which is thought to be close to at least 50 years old.

The victory allows the Hurricanes to run as a team at the New York State Championships, which are back at Sunken Meadow this Saturday, November 10.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and many times you go into a season with an ‘A’ plan, a ‘B’ plan and a ‘C’ plan. We got to go with our ‘A’ plan on Friday so there were no excuses,” Ford explained. “My big thing was that I thought we didn’t run well as a team at Divisions but everybody ran hard at counties.”

Juan Lasso, a senior, and freshman Gavin Ehlers crossed the finish line basically together at 17:46 and 17:47, respectively, which placed them fifth and sixth overall. Juniors Ermel Bautista (18:00) and Kieran Ryan (18:05) placed ninth and 10th.

Maximus Haynia was trailing many of the runners in the race prior to reaching the well known Cardiac Hill, but in between there and the finish line, the eighth-grader made up about 25 placements, which was a big difference in the race, Ford said.

“When I saw Max coming in toward the finish line, I knew it was over,” he said. “He just caught up with everybody, and even though we had to wait for the official word, they all had an idea that they had won.”

Sean Jordan, a junior, placed 28th overall in 18:47 and another junior, Bryan Cruz-Sanchez, finished 62nd in 20:15. The Canes amassed 41 points, well ahead of second place East Hampton, which finished with 101 points.

Now the Canes’ attention will turn to the state meet where they’ll look to de-throne defending state champion Burnt Hills (Section II-Capital District). Ford would like to see his team get on the podium.

“I think our kids are confident that they can run faster,” he said. “I think the race being at Sunken Meadow is a big home advantage.”

Girls

Jackie Amato qualified for the state meet for the first time in her young career after she placed fourth overall in 19:57. The sophomore became just the second girl from Westhampton Beach to break 20 minutes, the first since Brittany Carter in 2003, according to head coach John Broich.

The Class B girls race had a bit of an interesting twist. Kings Park ended up being the county champion even though its first two runners finished ninth and 10th overall. Typically the team which has a few runners in the top five goes on to win, and since Mount Sinai’s Sarah Connelly and Kaitlyn Chandrika finished first and second, the thought was that the Lady Mustangs would win. But Kings Park grouped their runners in such a way that had them win the county title with 45 points, six points ahead of Sayville.

The placement of the teams made it difficult to qualify as an individual. Westhampton Beach sophomore Ashley Steedman placed 14th in 22:05 and junior Grace Hayes placed 21st in 22:41.

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