BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO
Southold has one of the top runners in Suffolk County in senior Sal Manno.
It’s plain and simple, the members of the Mattituck Tuckers boys cross-country team enjoy running.
Coming off a 5-1 second-place finish in Suffolk County League VIII last year, the Tuckers, despite being hit hard by graduation, should be tough to beat once again. The team’s first-year coach, Julianne Milliman, said a key element for her team this season is its “cohesiveness.”
“These boys have a good team concept,” she said. “They want to improve.”
Mattituck will be led by seniors Corey Zlatniski, Jesse Grathwohl and Bill Goggins, along with sophomore Casey Grathwohl. Sophomore Chris Baglivi, a newcomer to the team, has consistently run with the frontrunners, so far. Milliman said that there are a lot of freshmen vying for spots on the team.
“These kids are always together,” Milliman said. “They make it fun.”
While only three of the team’s 20 runners are seniors, Milliman believes that will not be an obstacle.
Mattituck will take part in the Jim Smith Invitational on Saturday at Sunken Meadow State Park.
“We hope to do well in the league,” Milliman said. “The boys all have personal goals and they are training hard. They put in a good practice. They will achieve their goals. So far, I like what I see.”
The Southold First Settlers are coming off a 1-5 season, but with one of the top runners in the county returning in senior Sal Manno, the team’s first-year coach, Karl Himmelmann, team has a dynamic runner to build around.
“Sal has great runner’s form,” Himmelmann said. “He has a good, steady kick. He has the upper-body strength and his technique is fabulous. Sal is committed and has the attitude to push through. He puts forth a great effort.”
Joining Manno are other returners: sophomores Ryan Hanrahan and John Tomici, juniors Griffin Quist and Matt Reilly, and senior Nick Amara. “They all show promise and are putting forth the effort,” Himmelmann said. “They are making improvement.”
A pair of new runners in freshman Ian Toy and sophomore Andy Rubin could also enter into the mix. Himmelmann called Toy “a classic distance runner.”
Himmelmann loves the cohesiveness of his team.
“They are supportive of each other,” he said. “They are incredibly supportive and cheer each other on.”
The key for improving this season, Himmelmann said, “is we have to commit to working on speed training.”
“We want to improve our overall record,” he added. “We want to see improvement in all the boys’ times. We need to place more runners in the top five in the meets.”