Showdown At Cedar Pt. Park

Wildcat runners prevail, but East Hampton did not go quietly
Cedar Point Park offers sweeping views of Gardiner’s Bay, but it’s safe to say the cross-country runners did not take them in. Jack Graves

    A league championship was on the line at Cedar Point Park on Oct. 8, and, as the East Hampton High School boys’ coach, Kevin Barry, expected, the visiting team, Shoreham-Wading River, would prevail. They had only lost three meets in the past 13 years and were the eighth-ranked team in the state, he said.

    The Bonackers, however, did not go quietly. Erick Engstrom, a sophomore who won an invitational meet in Ridge outright the previous weekend, placed third; Jack Link, a senior, was sixth; Adam Cebulski, a senior whose younger sister, Dana, ran away with the girls’ meet that afternoon, was seventh; Thomas Brierley, a senior, was ninth, and Sean Moucha, a junior, was 11th.

    Ryan Udvadia, a Shoreham senior whose best time thus far in the two-mile race is nine minutes and two seconds, and who is a 4:14 miler, led the way over the 2.75-mile course through Cedar Point trails that at times provided views of Gardiner’s Bay, though the runners were too focused, presumably, to take them in.

    Asked after he’d crossed the line well ahead of the others, if he was the best cross-country runner in Suffolk, Udvadia said, “On the Island.”

    He aims, he said, to win the state meet this year. He was ninth in 2012. This past weekend, Udvadia, who has run the tough Sunken Meadow course in 15:57, was to have competed in a large 2.5-mile invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx — “one of the top three meets in the U.S.”

    Udvadia had been held out of the race at Ridge that Engstrom won. “Erick beat all the other Shoreham kids that day, including a Port Jefferson runner who runs a 4:15 mile,” Barry said. “Jack Link was eighth over all.”

    The Wildcats’ runners placed first, second, fourth, fifth, and ninth that day, defeating East Hampton 20-36.

    With Dana Cebulski leading the way, East Hampton’s girls won their first meet of the season that day, besting Sayville 21-34.

    Diane O’Donnell, East Hampton’s coach, said that in winning in 17:37, her junior number one had “improved by more than a minute” the time she ran there recently versus Shoreham-Wading River. In that meet, contested on Sept. 24, Cebulski, the runner-up, made a slight wrong turn, which was to cost her 10 to 15 seconds.

    Liana Paradiso, who’s only an eighth grader, was second, in 18:42. Jackie Messemer was fourth, in 19:10, Devon Brown was fifth, in 20:04, and Marissa Gilbert was ninth, in 21:15. Those finishes and Sayville’s placements of third, sixth, seventh, eightth, and tenth resulted in the aforementioned 21-34 win.

    That meet was the second and last to be held at Cedar Point Park this season. “Maybe we’ll have more meets next year,” said O’Donnell. Her and Barry’s teams have been running “home” meets at Riverhead’s Indian Island County Park for the past 24 years.

    “The girls did really well today,” said O’Donnell. “I’m really proud of them. It was nice to see.”

    Everybody had a personal record, Barry said of his charges, who also included Josh Dempsey, Jackson Rafferty, Eric Perez, and Alex Osborn.

From the left, Liana Paradiso, Dana Cebulski, Jackie Messemer, Marissa Gilbert, Devon Brown, Anna Hoffman, and Alex Vecchio. Another member, Julia DeSousa, is not in the photo. The team finished the regular season at 2-3. They're to run in the division (county) meet at Sunken Meadow Tuesday.Jack Graves