On Sept. 24, for the first time in 24 years, a cross-country meet was held at Cedar Point Park in Northwest, and everybody had been told to bring bug spray so that the runners and spectators wouldn’t be attacked by tick larvae or chiggers, as they are also referred to here.
As far as was known as of this writing, last Friday, nobody itched afterward, and the other good news was that Bonac’s boys team bageled Rocky Point 15-45, with nine Bonackers preceding Rocky Point’s first man over the finish line.
“They’ve got five guys injured,” said Kevin Barry, the boys’ coach, “but even if they’d all been healthy I think only one would have finished in the top five.”
The parade of East Hampton finishers began with Jack Link, a senior, and Erick Engstrom, a sophomore, who tied, covering the 2.75-mile course in 15 minutes and 40 seconds. Adam Cebulski, a senior, Thomas Brierley, a senior, Jackson Rafferty, a sophomore, Sean Mouche, a junior, Eric Perez, a sophomore, Josh Dempsey, a freshman, and Alex Osborn, a senior, followed.
The girls fared less well against Shoreham-Wading River, though they weren’t shut out. Dana Cebulski, East Hampton’s top runner, who made a mini wrong turn in the early going, finished fourth, and Liana Paradiso, who’s only an eighth grader, was fifth, followed by Jackie Messemer.
The course, laid out this past summer, measures 2.75 miles. Had it been longer, Dana’s coach, Diane O’Donnell said, “Dana might have done better.”
At the start, Cebulski had been bunched in the lead with three Shoreham girls, but once she’d lost about 10 or so steps because of the wrong turn, she couldn’t make them up.
Kevin Barry, the high-flying boys’ coach, said he remembered the last time a meet was held at Cedar Point. “It was 1989. I was coaching Mercy then, and Peter Erwig was coaching East Hampton. I even remember the score — we won 26 to 29. Timmy Gilmartin won.”
Since then East Hampton’s home course has been Indian Island County Park in Riverhead and away meets have been held at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park.
“The next time we’ll be here at Cedar Point, on Oct. 8, assuming we will have beaten Miller Place [the teams were to have vied at Sunken Meadow on Tuesday], we’ll be running against Shoreham for the league championship,” said Barry.
“Shoreham has a kid who runs a 4:32 mile, a kid who can run the half in 9:02, and two who can do it in 10-something.”
As of Friday, East Hampton was 3-0 in the boys league standings, with Miller Place and Shoreham each at 2-0.
But East Hampton has some goers too. In the recent Jim Smith invitational at Sunken Meadow, Erik Engstrom won the sophomore race, “by more than 100 yards,” Jack Link placed eighth in the senior race, and Josh Dempsey was ninth in the freshman race,” said Barry, adding that Dana Cebulski was sixth in the girls’ junior race, and that Paradiso was seventh in the freshman race.
“To have had five kids in the top 10 in eight races was very good,” he said.
While the girls team’s record dropped to 0-2 as the result of the Sept. 24 loss, “The kids ran well,” said O’Donnell. “Dana was just 15 seconds off the first-place girl . . . she ran out of road . . . and Liana, who went the right way, was up there. . . . I’ve talked to the girls about closing that gap between our first and fifth runners, the ones who are scored, and we’ve all agreed we should do it. But will it happen?”
Miller Place, which still has its standout twins, Tiana and Talia Guevara, is the odds-on league favorite.
Asked if she had been surprised by Paradiso’s performances, O’Donnell said, “I knew she’d be in our top five, but, yes, I am pleasantly surprised she’s our number-two. Dana and she ran over the summer, so they may have reached their plateaus, while the other girls, the ones who didn’t run in the summer, I’m expecting to get stronger.”
Another who ran over the summer, and who was expected to be in East Hampton’s top group, was Emma Newburger, “but she’s got a bad knee . . . she just couldn’t do it.”
Asked how Shoreham’s coach had reacted to the trip out to Cedar Point, O’Donnell said, “He [Paul Koretski] said he enjoyed coming out to a different course.”
“We warned them,” said Barry, when asked if the opponents had sprayed their running shoes and socks with bug spray, as East Hampton’s runners had. “They know about the bugs because they’ve been running on trails at their places too.”