Jonathan Rempe is apparently one of those runners who has a natural gift, an aptitude for cross-country running. As far as Karl Himmelmann, the second-year coach of the Southold First Settlers, knows, the only running Rempe did last year was on his own.
That’s something because Rempe, a freshman, is now Southold’s top runner. He has already broken 19 minutes at Sunken Meadow State Park’s demanding 3.1-mile course.
The First Settlers (2-3 last season) not only have Rempe, but they also have four other runners who qualified for the state meet last year: senior Frank Cone, senior Griffin Quist, junior Ryan Hanrahan and junior John Tomici. That helps absorb the loss of Sal Manno, the team’s most valuable runner who graduated.
Also returning for the 2011 season are senior Matt Reilly, senior Kieran Brodarick, junior Emmett Bufkins, sophomore Markis Croteau, junior Andy Rubin, sophomore Ian Toy and junior Garrett DeFriest.
Cone and Reilly are the team captains.
Among the new faces are sophomores Logan Pfister, James MacArthur and Anthony Esposito, and freshmen Chris Buono, Michael Cosmadelis and Gus Rymer.
“They’re very talented runners,” said Himmelmann.
Eighteen runners are on the team. That’s not bad for a small school.
“I was thrilled,” Himmelmann said. “The boys really came out in numbers. … With such a large number of runners … the team chemistry has just clicked right from the start.”
The numbers have been good in Mattituck, too. Almost unheard of, actually.
This season the Tuckers have 30 — that’s right, 30 — runners on their roster. What accounts for the large turnout?
“I don’t know. Maybe they just have a really great coach,” Coach Julie Milliman said, smiling in jest.
Numbers mean depth, and depth means competition, and competition for places on a team is always a good thing, as Milliman knows.
It’s also a good thing to have a runner like Corey Zlatniski on the team. Zlatniski, a senior, was an all-league runner last year who made it to the state meet.
“He’s looking good,” Milliman said. “… His times are right where we want. We hope he peaks at the right time and returns to the state meet.”
Also back from the 2010 squad are seniors Zach Hinsch and Matt Ireland, juniors Casey Grathwohl and Anthony Howell, and sophomores Ralph Pugliese, Adam Hicks, Chris Hicks and Charlie Hickox.
The rest of the roster includes: Josh Conklin, Ryan Debrowski, Jack Dufton, James Finora, Harrison Forte, John Hellerman, Doug Krudup, Roy Lebkuecher, Chris Mehalakes, Joe Nadel, Jake Nolan, Oliver Orr, Dan Pawlik, Pulith Peires, Dan Peters, Marcos Perivolaris, Nick Piraino, Jason Reeve, James Rugnetta, Kevin Schwartz, Chris Sledjeski, Caleb Smith and Andrew Young.
“It’s a big group, diverse personalities, and just a good work ethic among the upperclassmen, and the [underclassmen] want to improve themselves, so it’s good,” said Milliman, who is projecting a winning season and believes the team can send two or three runners to the state meet.
“I want all 30 runners to finish [the season] and everybody to set personal records,” she said, “every last one of them.”