Impressive Showing for Pierson Boys, Girls Cross Country at Division Championships in Lead up to County Meet - 27 East

Impressive Showing for Pierson Boys, Girls Cross Country at Division Championships in Lead up to County Meet

Drew Budd on Nov 2, 2022

If last week was any indication, the Section XI Cross Country Championships this Friday could be a successful one for the Pierson boys and girls cross country teams.

Both squads ran well in their respective Division Championship meets, which were split between October 25 and October 27 at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park. Thanks to finishing second in League VIII with a 4-1 record, the Pierson girls were able to compete in the team championship race — which includes the top two teams from each league in the county — on October 25.

Running against the top runners from every school, regardless of size, Pierson freshman Sara O’Brien finished the 5K race in 22:40.30, ahead of every finisher from Port Jefferson, which went undefeated and won the League VIII title this season and gave the Whalers their only dual-meet loss of the season. In fact, Pierson seventh-grader Josephine Mott finished right behind O’Brien in 22:41.20, and although head coach Jim Kinnier said she didn’t have the strongest of races, sophomore Greylynn Guyer outran Port Jeff’s second finisher down the final stretch, finishing in 23:21.40.

All of which bodes well for this Friday, Kinnier said, when his runners will have a shot to win a Class D county title while also having an opportunity to qualify for the New York State Championships, which are at upstate Vernon Verona Sherrill High School on November 12.

“There are lots of variables,” Kinnier said going into Friday’s meet. “The girls need to stay healthy this week. I really think we could win. Let’s hope that confidence doesn’t creep into overconfidence, though.

“I was very happy with the way they ran,” Kinnier said of last week’s race. “Not everybody had their best race, but there’s always ups and downs during the season, and I think they ran a really impressive race head-to-head against Port Jeff. We would have beaten them that day. We actually finished ahead of both Port Jeff and Bayport and were within striking distance of teams like Sachem East and Connetquot, so very happy with the girls’ performance.”

The boys were scheduled to run the same day as the girls on October 25, but by the time the boys and girls championship races were done, officials decided to postpone the rest of the four races on the day until October 27, due to what was ultimately ruled as unsafe conditions. Unseasonably warm temperatures with high humidity made racing conditions difficult, plus the rain in the days prior made course conditions tough as well. After five ambulances were called to Sunken Meadow to handle a number of calls of injured athletes, most suffering from dehydration and breathing issues such as asthma, officials decided to save the rest of the racing for another day.

That didn’t effect the girls, since they wound up running in the final race of the day. But the boys had to come back to Sunken Meadow two days later to run in their team qualifier race, which they qualified to run in by placing third in League VIII with a 2-2 record. The team qualifier race includes all teams from Suffolk who finished third and fourth in their respective leagues.

Pierson junior Justin Gardner finished fifth overall in 18:12.20, and senior Coleman Dee finished in the top 20 in 19:46.20. Both runners earned All-Division honors.

Pierson head coach Joe Amato said it will be tough to beat Port Jeff this Friday for the county title — the Royals are ranked fourth in the state in Class D — but they could very well overtake Southold, which placed second in League VIII this season, so that will be their goal. And Gardiner has a very good shot at making it back to states, Amato said, where he placed 52nd last year.

“Our boys always seem to run our best when it counts most at the state qualifier,” Amato said. “But either way, I’m immensely proud of these boys for working really hard. They’re all Scholar-Athletes and I’m really privileged to work with these kids.”

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