East Hampton High’s winter track teams, while rather low in numbers, have some goers, mostly young, who have kept it interesting for their coaches, Chris Reich in the boys’ case and Shani Cuesta in the case of the girls.
There are, to begin with, the Cebulskis, Adam and Dana, though Adam, because of a knee problem, was out of action this week. In a conversation before the Christmas break, after he’d run the 1,600 in 4 minutes and 46 seconds, Reich said, “If we can keep Adam healthy he could be the league champion in either the mile or 2-mile, or both, and qualify for the county and state qualifier meets.”
Cuesta, in recounting the results of a crossover meet at Suffolk Community College-Brentwood Saturday, said that while Dana Cebulski had taken the Christmas break off, and thus was a bit rusty, she had impressed her with her willingness to run both the 1,500 and the 3,000. Cebulski finished third in each event, in 5:10.86 in the 1,500, and in 11:23.35 in the 3,000. It was the first time, said Cuesta, that her top long-distance runner had competed in the 3,000 this winter.
Nina Piacentine, whose mother, Kathy, for a long time held East Hampton’s racewalk record — until it was broken last spring by Lena Vergnes — has been persuaded to give racewalking a try. “I’m so excited about Nina’s progress in this [1,500-meter] event,” said Cuesta. “She’s been taking 15 seconds off each time she competes. [Her time was 9:56.17 Saturday.] She’s been attending Gary Westerfield’s racewalking clinic up the Island every Wednesday to improve her form. She’s determined, just as her mother was. It’s exciting to see. She has the ability to move up quickly.”
Piacentine also competed in the long jump Saturday, “but,” said her coach, “she didn’t have a chance to properly warm up because it came so soon after the racewalk.”
Annie Schuppe, a shot-putter who enjoyed a personal best throw of 24-4 3/4, also impressed her coach, who said that “every one of her throws was an improvement from the one before.”
Gabbie McKay’s 51.23 in the 300, while “not a personal best, was a great run for her considering that she has been out sick.”
Ana Toledo’s personal best 53.59 in the 300 had also been noteworthy, Cuesta said, inasmuch as “she’s missed quite a few practices because of the flu.”
McKay, Alexa Berti, Kathryn Wood, Toledo, Schuppe, Lily Goldman, and Daisy Kelly all competed in the 55-meter dash, with McKay posting the best time, an 8.54.
“I’ve got no seniors,” Cuesta said during a recent practice session. “Dana and Alyssa Bahel are sophomores, Nina, Alexa, and Ana [the latter two I-Tri girls] are ninth graders, as are Devon Brown and Gabbie McKay. Lily Goldman is a junior who’s done spring track but never winter track before, and Daisy Kelly is a junior who’s out for the first time.”
Other juniors are Schuppe, who’s out for the first time, Elena Skerys, of Pierson, a distance runner, and Kathryn Wood, the team’s most promising jumper.
Getting back to the boys, Reich said that the following turned in noteworthy performances at Monday’s crossover meet at Suffolk Community-Brentwood: Erik Engstrom, who ran a 5:05 in the 1,600; Dan Soto, who did a 44.31 in the 300; Addison Cook, who ran the 55 in 7.55; Alex Osborne, who ran the 600 in 1:39; Erik Perez, who did the 1,000 in 3:23; the 4-by-200 relay team of Osborne (28.2), Jack Link (27.0), Perez (29.5), and John Grogan (30.0), and the 4-by-400 team of Cook (63.2), Chjuvaughan Cameron (58.1), Maykell Guzman (63.5), and Paul King (62.6).
Earlier in the season, Reich said he was very glad Cameron, Soto, both freshmen, and Guzman (a junior who spent last year in the Dominican Republic) had come out for the team. “Cameron and Dan have the potential to be in the top three among the county’s freshmen, in either the 55 or 300. Addison Cook, who has joined us from Sag Harbor, has been another pleasant surprise. He’s got great speed and hurdle form. He’ll be a great asset to the team, especially in the relays.”
“Erik Engstrom, though only a freshman, is not too far behind Adam in the mile and 2-mile. He should definitely break five minutes in the mile this season. I ran him in the 300, 600, and 4-by-4 in a recent meet to inject some speed into his legs. His 400 split was a 64, which is great for a freshman. . . . He has the ability to be the fastest freshman in Suffolk County in either the mile or 2-mile.”
“I’d love to see Jack Link break five minutes in the mile too,” Reich added, “and hopefully score points for us in the league meet’s 600, along with Alex Osborne.”
At the beginning of the season, said Reich, the boys were treated to an intense hourlong workout at Ed Cashin’s Exceed Fitness gym on Plank Road, just north of the Ross School.
“Ed introduced my team to the TRX body resistance straps, Bosu balls, and medicine balls, which should really help us throughout the season.”