Lasting Legacy: Cashin, O'Donnell Compete in Final Cross Country Race Together - 27 East

Lasting Legacy: Cashin, O’Donnell Compete in Final Cross Country Race Together

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East Hampton's Ryleigh O'Donnell, left, and Dylan Cashin at the end of their final cross country race together.   DREW BUDD

East Hampton's Ryleigh O'Donnell, left, and Dylan Cashin at the end of their final cross country race together. DREW BUDD

East Hampton girls cross country Diane O'Donnell consoles her two runners, Dylan Cashin, left, and Ryleigh O'Donnell.   DREW BUDD

East Hampton girls cross country Diane O'Donnell consoles her two runners, Dylan Cashin, left, and Ryleigh O'Donnell. DREW BUDD

Drew Budd on Nov 7, 2023

The looks on their faces told the story.

As Dylan Cashin and Ryleigh O’Donnell crossed the finish line and walked through the chute to the awards area at the Section XI Championship at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park on Friday afternoon, the East Hampton pair smiled from ear to ear, shared a deep cry and tears and a bit of laughter. They knew that their five-year run, at least in cross country, was over.

Fittingly enough the two crossed the finish line one after the other, with O’Donnell crossing in 20:56.60, which placed her 12th among Suffolk County Class B runners, arguably the strongest class in the county this fall. Cashin followed in at 20:58.56, placing 13th. Both were just a few placements shy of qualifying for this weekend’s state meet, but both seemed okay with how things ended up.

“I think we’ve learned so much over the past five years, being on the team in eighth grade, learning from the older girls,” O’Donnell explained after the race. “We were talking about it yesterday, how we remember how Bella [Tarbet] and Ava [Engstrom] always knew the girls’ names and stuff, and now we grew up to know all of the girls’ names and are friends with everyone.

“It’s such a family sport and we came into it so young,” Cashin added. “We had so much fun with it, growing up with it, learning and getting faster.”

And leaving their own legacy.

Both Cashin and O’Donnell were huge pieces to the girls cross country program winning its first-ever county title in 2019. Of course, Bella Tarbet and Ava Engstrom were a part of that team, as were Emma Hren and Megan Fowkes. But Cashin and O’Donnell never took that success, or their talents, for granted and even put it to good use. The pair created the May Day 5K, one of the newest, but also one of the already more popular, road races that takes place every May and raises funds and awareness for various mental health services.

Their longtime head coach, Diane O’Donnell (no relation to Ryleigh) said she only hopes that the returning girls continue the legacy that Cashin and O’Donnell are leaving behind.

“They’re an example of leadership, running hard at every meet no matter how they feel, and coaching and working with the younger people coming up. Hopefully, that legacy stays with them,” she said.

Laura Martinez, a freshman, finished 22nd in the county in 21:36.53. Natalie Reininger, a senior, finished Friday’s race in 24:31.11, which placed her 48th in the county. Leah Fromm, another senior, finished 50th in 24:49.72. Senior Emma Tepan finished 54th in 25:18.93 and junior Briana Chavez finished 56th in 25:52.08. The Bonac girls finished sixth out of the eight teams in the championship race.

Coach O’Donnell said her captains for next year are already Chavez and Zion Osei since she knows they are definitely coming back. After that, it’s just a pair of freshmen, Martinez, who showed great promise in her first varsity season, being one of them. With eight seniors set to graduate in June, it’s back to recruiting, something O’Donnell hasn’t had to do the past several seasons due to the team’s continued success.

“We’ve enjoyed the wealth of runners in recent years,” she said. “We won’t forget [Cashin and O’Donnell]. I never forget any of my girls. I always think back [and] when they come around they still come around to say hi.”

It’s not totally over for Cashin and O’Donnell, who will continue to run in both the winter and spring in indoor and outdoor track. O’Donnell is also set to run at Emory University.

“Just want to leave it all out there for the last two seasons, just have fun with it,” O’Donnell said. “I think that’s really gotten me through this season, and I think what will bring me through the next two seasons, the both of us just having fun.”

Boys Compete in
Championship Race


The East Hampton boys competed in their Class B race and finished eighth overall as a team. Head coach Kevin Barry said he was proud of how his team finished the season in what was a stacked field. To qualify for the county championship race, teams needed to have runners in the top six in the county or have a five-man average of 19:30 at Sunken Meadow, and the Bonackers accomplished both.

“The boys competed really, really well. The race just got out super fast,” he said.

Liam Knight, a sophomore, was first in for East Hampton, crossing the finish line in 18:43.49. Wyatt Smith, a junior, and senior Brayan Rivera, came in right around the same time at 19:08.94 and 19:14.01, respectively. Benson Edman, a junior, finished in 19:21.82, senior Liam Fowkes crossed in 19:39.47, freshman Hudson Goulart finished in 20:04.85 and sophomore Harrison Jenkins was the last Bonacker to finish in 20:57.75.

Barry is excited for the future of his program with the bulk of the team returning. The team is losing two four-year runners in Fowkes and Rivera, both of whom Barry has tremendous respect for. Fowkes will be a captain of the boys basketball team this winter, while Rivera will captain the indoor track team, which Barry has taken over as head coach.

Barry also said that the Old Montauk Athletic Club has been gracious enough to sponsor a team of Bonac runners, both boys and girls, to travel to and compete at the NXR, the Nike Northeast Regionals, which will take place at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls on November 25.

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