Hither Hills Half: A Run Before the Rain Came

A record time of 1 hour, 36 minutes, and 34 seconds
Erik Engstrom, recently returned from his freshman year at the University of Massachusetts, easily won Saturday’s Hither Hills Half-Marathon. Jack Graves

Erik Engstrom, recently returned from the University of Massachusetts, reintroduced himself to the running community here by walking away with the Hither Hills Trails Half-Marathon Saturday, in 1 hour, 36 minutes, and 34 seconds — a record given the fact that the course was changed this year.

“It felt a little long,” Engstrom said at the end, eyeing his watch. He was right — it was. The course is no longer one loop, with the halfway point in the woods just east of the West Overlook, but two, with the relay teams’ hand-off spot in Rod’s Valley, the broad expanse that greets you on entering the Ed Ecker Sr. County Park off Montauk’s Navy Road. The first loop was 6.6 miles, the second, 6.8, for a total of 13.4 miles.

The last time he’d run that distance was last fall, said Engstrom, who was red-shirted at UMass in the winter season but competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase this spring.

Mike Bahel was the runner-up to Engstrom, in 1:42.40, with Peter Hodkinson, a Montauker, right behind him, in 1:42.50. The latter said he and Bahel had traded places several times during the demanding trail race.

The women’s winner was Bahel’s daughter, Alyssa, in 1:52.31. Erin Tintle, the Old Montauk Athletic Club’s athlete of the year, was the runner-up to Bahel in 1:53.26. OMAC sponsored the event.

The women’s relay winners were Caroline Cashin and Julie Lilien, in 1:54.11; the men’s relay winners, in 1:54.29, were Dennis Loebs and Ryan O’Malley, and the mixed relay winners were Frank Puglia and Cheryl Bahel, in 2:01.01.

Not long afterward, Engstrom dropped in on the invitational track meet at East Hampton High School, which was, happily, contested before the rain came.

Among East Hampton’s winners that day were Allura Leggard, in the open 100, 200, and long jump; Ryan Fowkes, in the freshman-sophomore 1,500 and in the freshman-sophomore 800; Erin Leland, in the freshman-sophomore 400; Robert Weiss, in the open 400 and in the open 100; Jiji Kramer, in the freshman-sophomore 1,500-meter racewalk, and Alden Powers, in the freshman-sophomore 3,000.

Geo Espinoza, in the open 3,200; Frank Bellucci, in the freshman-sophomore 3,200; Maya Schultz, in the open triple jump; Ellie Borzilleri, in the freshman-sophomore long jump; Devon Merritt, in the boys freshman-sophomore triple jump; Autumn Street, in the girls open shot-put and in the open discus; Kevin Weiss, in the open discus; Ruben Santana, in the open shot-put; Lily Mongan, in the freshman-sophomore high jump, and Danielle Futerman and Charles DiTullio in the girls and boys open pole vault.

East Hampton’s boys and girls teams each won a meet this season — the girls over Amityville and the boys over Islip, on May 10.

Ben Turnbull said his charges won the Islip meet 77-63. Ryan Fowkes, he said, led the way, by winning the 1,600 and 3,200 and by being a member of the winning 4-by-800 relay team. In all, said Turnbull, Fowkes accounted for 20 of the team’s points.

Turnbull added that Robert Weiss had won the 100 and had been a member of the winning 4-by-100 relay team; that Kimani Clarke had won the 200 and also had been on the 4-by-1 team; that DiTullio had won the pole vault, and that Kevin Weiss had won the discus.

Place-winners at the aforementioned invitational included, said the coach: Weiss, who was the runner-up in the shot-put; Jared Kempski, who was second in the triple jump; Mike Trelles, who was second in the 100; Julian Cheng, who was the 400 runner-up and third in the triple jump, the 200, and 3,200; Santana, who was third in the discus, and Bellucci, who was third in the 400.