Cebulskis Led Way At Great Bonac 5K

Coaches reap rewards of running resurgence
Adam and Dana Cebulski, Monday’s 5K winners, are expected to lead the cross-country teams at East Hampton High School this fall. Jack Graves

   The brother and sister act of Adam and Dana Cebulski was on display Labor Day morning as each of them won first-place medals in the Great Bonac Footrace’s 5K.
    Adam, a 17-year-old junior at East Hampton High School, won running away in 18 minutes and 10 seconds. He’d been hoping for a 17:30 or a 17:45, but was nevertheless happy, knowing that he had run hard.
    Dana, the first Bonac girls cross-country runner ever to make the state meet, was the female winner in 21:08. She credited “running the hills” at a recent camp in Liberty, N.Y., with improving her fitness.
    “That’s all we did,” said Adam, who also went to the camp, which was overseen by Bart Sessa, Syosset’s coach.
    “They came back crying,” said the Cebulskis’ mother, Nidia, “not because they were overworked, but because they’d made so many friends there.”
    The 10K winners that morning were Peter Heinz, 25, of New York City, in 38:16, and Heather Wright, 39, of Westhampton Beach, in 40:10. The runner-up to Wright was Laura Brown, 45, of East Hampton. Sharon McCobb, 49, of East Hampton, was fourth, and Heather Caputo, 35, of East Hampton, was sixth.
    McCobb, Caputo, and Paul Maidment, 61, also of East Hampton, won their age groups, as did Christopher Tracey, 24, Robin Streck, 38, Barbara Tracey, 54, and Harriet Oster, 70, in the 5K.
    “It was my second 10K here, I did the 5K last year,” said Heinz. Asked how he’d done, Heinz said, “Not too great.” The eventual second and third-place finishers, Peter Tufaro, 30, and Garreth Hedgson, 41, both of New York City, had given him trouble in the beginning, he said, but he began to pull away at the third mile.
    Getting back to East Hampton High cross-country, both Diane O’Donnell, the girls coach, and Kevin Barry, who coaches the boys (and who placed sixth in the 10K, in 42:58) are excited about the coming season.
    “I don’t know how the wins and losses will go, but these guys will qualify for the county championships,” said Barry, who, in addition to Adam Cebulski, has Thomas Brierley, Alex Osborne, and Jack Link, all juniors, John Grogan, the senior captain, Donya Davis, also a senior, Paul King, a sophomore, and Thomas Papa, a sophomore, returning, and a group of gung-ho freshmen — Erik Engstrom, Jackson Rafferty, Leo Panish, Will Hamilton, and T.J. Paradiso.
    Engstrom placed third in the 5K, nosed out by Steve Cuomo, 29, whose father, Steve Sr., brought out many special-needs runners who belong to his Rolling Thunder Running Club.
    Steve Cuomo’s runner-up time was 18:55, Engstrom, who’s 14, ran the 3.1-mile course in 18:56. Another Rolling Thunder runner, Marcus Sanders, 42, was fourth, in 19:20.
    “I don’t know who my top seven are yet,” said Barry. “I’ve never had this many freshmen capable of making such an impact. As the season goes on, four or five of our top seven could be ninth graders. They’re very coachable and they’ll go far.”
    It’s pretty much the same for O’Donnell, who, as has been the case with Barry, is, after a rather long hiatus, reaping the rewards of a resurgence of interest in running here. There was not only a strong showing Monday among the high school runners, but also of middle schoolers.
    “In our meets last year,” said O’Donnell, “we’d always get one and two with Ashley [West, now at Susquehanna University] and Dana, but then there’d be a big gap. It wasn’t until the middle of the season that our middle-of-the-pack runners began to realize that in order to score we needed to displace our opponents’ packs. They’ve got it now — they know what they have to do.”
    Besides Dana Cebulski, O’Donnell has among her returnees Jennie DiSunno, a senior, Lena Vergnes, a senior, Jackie Messemer, a sophomore, and Emma Newburger — “a solid top five.” Then there are three promising ninth graders, Devon Brown, Anna Hoffman, and Sheryl Hayes, to go with her middle-of-the-pack returnees — Brittany Rivkind, a junior, Jamie Staubitser, a senior, Tess Talmage, a senior, Julia DeSousa, a junior, and Marissa Gilbert, a sophomore.
    Gilbert is a recruit from track, a sprinter. “She’s been asking me when we start practicing for our event,” O’Donnell said with a smile. “I tell her, ‘This is our event, Marissa.’ ”