Pierson Girls Cross Country Wins Fifth Consecutive County Title; Gardner Is Boys County Champion - 27 East

Pierson Girls Cross Country Wins Fifth Consecutive County Title; Gardner Is Boys County Champion

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The Pierson girls cross country team won its fifth consecutive county title on Friday.

The Pierson girls cross country team won its fifth consecutive county title on Friday.

The Pierson boys cross country team placed second, just one point behind Southold. Justin Gardner, far right, was the overall champion.   DREW BUDD

The Pierson boys cross country team placed second, just one point behind Southold. Justin Gardner, far right, was the overall champion. DREW BUDD

The Pierson girls cross country team shows off its latest county titles, the fifth year in a row the team has won the county championship.

The Pierson girls cross country team shows off its latest county titles, the fifth year in a row the team has won the county championship.

Drew Budd on Nov 7, 2023

Yani Cuesta said she may be new to the cross-country scene, but she knows a great team when she sees one, and her Pierson girls cross country team is just that.

As expected, the girls won their fifth consecutive county title with little to no competition from fellow Class D competitors around the county, but they still needed to run the race to make it official. Josephine Mott, an eighth-grader, led the way for the Whalers and was the individual county champion crossing the finish line in 21:34.68, while junior Greylynn Guyer finished second in the county in 22:01.76. Sophomore Sara O’Brien placed third in 22:25.99, sophomore Bennett Greene placed fifth in 23:47.28, eighth-grader Maggie Greenwald finished sixth in 24:22.60, junior Brianna Torres finished seventh in 26:40.70 and junior Marissa Walter finished ninth in 27:36.49.

The girls will be competing at the New York State Cross Country Championship this Saturday, November 11, at Vernon Verona Sherrill High School, which is about a half-hour’s drive east of Syracuse.

“These girls have shown grit all season,” Cuesta said. “I know I’m new to the cross country scene. I’ve coached girls track long enough to know that these girls are true competitors. We are a small but mighty program, and I hope that we continue to grow and become a team that others take notice of.

“I know Class D is a small field, but that doesn’t make the work these girls have put in any less impressive,” she continued. “All the girls who were on the team last year have improved their times significantly from last year. We hope to be more competitive, still, when we head to states this coming weekend up in Verona.”

Mott, who has helped the charge the past two seasons, said last week’s race felt better for her than the week’s previous race at divisions.

“I just felt more confident about this week than last week,” she said. “It was just a better race overall.

“It was a good race,” Guyer confirmed. “We were definitely nervous. We knew we had a good chance at winning, but there were nerves throughout the team. But I think once everyone started running and getting into it, that definitely helped out.”

The girls have certainly already created a long list of accolades for themselves. In addition to being county champs, the Whalers placed second in Division IV, with O’Brien, Guyer and Mott earning All-Division honors, and they tied with Mattituck and Port Jefferson as League VIII champions, with Mott, O’Brien, Guyer and Greenwald earning All-League honors.

Can they add a state title to that mix? They’re certainly going to try.

Guyer said that the team being two more girls deep, with Torres and Walter added to the mix compared to last year’s team, certainly helps. But the overall improvement of the team over the past year also helps, O’Brien said.

“I definitely think we can improve on last year’s finish,” she said. “We’ve definitely improved a lot since last year. I think we’re very capable of fourth, fifth. Maybe third.

“As for their prospects at states, anything goes,” Cuesta said. “You never know who is going to have a bad day and who is going to have their best. I hope to prepare the girls to race their best. My expectations are for each of them to improve their personal times and hope that it’s enough to move them up in the rankings both individually and as a team.”

Gardner Is County Champion

 

Pierson senior Justin Gardner became the Suffolk County Class D Champion after winning Friday’s 5K race in 17:48.09. He was the only runner of the field to finish under 18:00, and he did what he could to try to lead his boys team to a county championship, but Southold disrupted those plans. The Settlers edged the Whalers, 27-28, to take home the county team title.

Gardner was a little bit at a loss for words, with his team losing by a slim point, but it’s been that way all year. The Whalers only lost by three points to the Settlers during the regular season.

“Coming in, I knew it was going to be close, seeing the order of the people coming in, but I mean it was close from the beginning,” he said. “All year it’s been back and forth.

“I just knew I had to save my best race for last and I ended up doing that,” Gardner added. “It’ll be my third time up at states. I think it’s the same course as last year, so I’ll be looking to improve my time from last year.”

Gardner has really put together a solid cross country career, having reached states three years in a row. Pierson boys head coach Joe Amato said he couldn’t list all of Gardner’s accolades, but that he’s “the ideal student athlete, is one of the top students in the school, one of best captains in the past 34 years, second fastest time at Sunken Meadow the past 34 years for Pierson. Suffolk County Class D Champion, All Suffolk County Team, All Suffolk XC Scholar Athlete, missed making All-State last year by about a second.

“He will go down as one of the best Pierson cross country runners in the past 40 years,” he added. “He will be very much missed next year.”

Gardner finished last year’s state Class D 5K race in what was, at the time, a personal best of 18:02.8, which placed him 26th overall out of 114 runners. He is consistently finishing races faster than that this season.

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