Bonac Tracksters Were the Last Ones Standing

Of chief interest was Erik Engstrom’s third-place finish in the 2,000-meter steeplechase
Erik Engstrom was to slip in passing over the water jump, but still finished third in the 2,000-meter steeplechase. Ricci Paradiso

   Chris Reich, who coaches East Hampton High School’s boys track team, reported Monday that his freshmen and sophomores had held their own in a countywide freshman-sophomore meet for all of Suffolk’s schools.
    Of chief interest was Erik Engstrom’s third-place finish in the 2,000-meter steeplechase, “in an incredible time of 6 minutes and 41 seconds, even though he fell after leaping the water jump. He’ll compete in the 3,000 steeple in the division meet this week.”
    As for his other freshmen, Reich said that “Jackson Rafferty ran a 5:04 mile — a respectable time for a freshman. He’s been overshadowed by Engstrom, but is a very solid runner. I’m anxious to see how he matures as an athlete — he’s very talented.”
    “T.J. Paradiso was 10th in the 400-meter race in 57.7 seconds, Dan Soto was 17th in the 100 and in the 200, and James Makrianes ‘p.r.’d’ in the mile with a 5:14, a great time for him. I wish he’d come out for cross-country in the fall rather than play soccer.”
    As for Bonac’s sophomores, “Liam McGovern ran a personal-best :64 in the 400 — it’s been fun to watch him grow — and Will Ellis placed 16th in the 110-meter high hurdles. . . . Both of our teams placed 17th among the 25 schools entered.”
    Regarding the division championships, Reich said he had to scratch his 4-by-100 relay team “because two guys decided to end their season early. Wanya Reid, who wants to race, will be in the open 200, and Hunter Kelsey, who’s a senior, has been moved to the 4-by-400 with T.J., Jack Link, and John Grogan. We’ll have a 4-by-8 team — Adam Cebulski, Evan Larsen, Keaton Crozier, and Christian Figueroa, a Bridgehampton student.”
    “Our individual competitors at the divisions will be Evan Larsen in the 800, Reid in the 200, Cebulski in the 3,200, Crozier in the long and triple jumps, Jack Ryan in the pole vault, and of course Erik Engstrom in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.”
   Turning to other high school sports, East Hampton’s boys tennis team won a first-round match in the county tournament by defeating Huntington 4-3 here on May 15, but was bageled 7-0 at Westhampton Beach the following day. Collin Kavanaugh’s comeback 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) win over Max Fehrs at second singles keyed East Hampton’s win over Huntington.
   The Ross School, which won, for the fourth year in a row, a league championship, at 10-2, lost 4-3 to William Floyd in the second round. Ross’s coach, Juan Diaz, reported that Floyd’s second doubles team won the deciding point, coming back to defeat Jack Brinkley and Ramiz Farah 2-6, 7-6, 6-3. The Cosmos’ team had a good chance to win in two sets, having going up 5-2, 40-love in the second, but could not get it done.
“We had a great year,” Diaz added. “I’m proud of the boys.”
   Ross and Floyd had split during the regular season. East Hampton, which finished at 9-5 over all, and at 8-4 in league play, had lost both times to Westhampton in the regular season, by 5-2 and 6-1 scores.
    East Hampton’s softball team, which, at 8-11, finished fifth among the seven teams in League VI — the first time in his 30-year career that Lou Reale has coached a team with a losing record — nevertheless ended the season interestingly, overcoming a six-run deficit to defeat Elwood-John Glenn 11-9 here on May 14, and coming close to upsetting Miller Place, the league’s top team — and the county Class A bracket’s top seed — at Miller Place the next day.
   In the finale here, after which Reale added to his lengthening Hall of Fame roster the names of six more protégées who had gone on to play in college, Casey Waleko, East Hampton’s junior pitcher, who has had a sore back all spring — so sore, in fact, that she’s not been able to practice — told Reale, who had penciled her in at first base, that she couldn’t play.
    Courtney Dess, the team’s sole senior, started on the mound. She was replaced by Ali Harden during the top of the fifth, an inning in which the visitors plated six runs with one hit. Four walks, two two-run errors, and a tardy relay from the outfield accounted for the damage.
    But the Bonackers came back with five runs of their own in the bottom half, doubles by Shannon McCaffrey and Cecilia Fioriello being the big blows.
    Harden set the side down in order in the top of the sixth, and in the bottom half East Hampton came back to win it 11-9. An r.b.i. single by Fioriello won it, and McCaffrey’s sacrifice fly tacked on an insurance run.
    Waleko worked the top of the seventh, striking out the side.
    Having almost lost to winless John Glenn, East Hampton almost defeated 17-2 Miller Place the next day.
    “It was a good game,” said Reale. “We didn’t hit great — we only had four hits — but we played well defensively. We only made one error.”
    East Hampton went up 2-0 in the top of the second. Annie Schuppe and McCaffrey began it by drawing walks, after which Emma Norris ripped a shot into the gap in right-center. Schuppe and McCaffrey scored, but Norris, who tripped rounding first base, was thrown out at second.
    The home team used a walk and three bunts to get one back in the bottom of the third, and tied the score in the fourth as the result of a bunt single, a stolen base, and an r.b.i. double.
    Miller Place won it 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, as the result of a bunt single, a theft of second, a sacrifice bunt that advanced the base runner to third, and a base hit.
    “As I said, we didn’t play that bad, though five of our kids struck out looking, which wasn’t great. So, yes, as you said, it’s wait until next year. . . . There’s going to be a bunch of seniors next year, but they’ve got to play this summer if they want to get better, and I don’t think any of them are.”
    “Casey’s been great. She was definitely affected by that back problem, which, as far as I know, nobody’s specifically diagnosed to this day, though the last doctor she saw, the one at the Hospital for Special Surgery, said she should just rest it this summer.”
    “When I saw her pitch in February and March she was throwing the ball better than she ever had. But then her back began to act up. A lot of kids in that situation would have quit, or their parents would have made them quit. But she was told she couldn’t do anything that would make it worse, and she and her parents, who were great too, bit the bullet, even though it got to where she couldn’t practice in between games. She did a great job. Hopefully, she’ll start working out in the fall and come back strong next year.”
    As for his error-prone crew, Reale said, “They’re great kids, super kids, their academics are very good, we had a great trip to Florida . . . but they’ve got to realize they won’t get better if they don’t play.”