WESTHAMPTON BEACH INVITATIONAL
In cross country there are no shortcuts. Progress is made the old-fashioned way, by taking one stride after another and putting the miles in.
Perhaps no one knows that better than Adam Hicks and Jake Nolan. The two Mattituck High School juniors enjoyed the product of their labor on Thursday when they both clocked personal-best times in the Westhampton Beach Invitational.
“They did great,” Mattituck coach Julie Milliman said. “I’m not surprised because they work hard at practice.”
Hicks and Nolan were Mattituck’s first two finishers in the John Hanff boys varsity race at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead. Hicks completed the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes 28.56 seconds, which left him in 23rd place.
“That just blew my mind,” said Hicks, who is in his third year on the team. “I feel really good about this.”
Nolan kept Hicks within his sight, using him as a marker all the way to the finish. It must have helped because Nolan came in 33rd among the 138 finishers in a time of 18:50.23.
“I feel great,” Nolan said. He added: “I paced with Adam today. He’s good, and that helped a lot. I usually don’t start out that fast.”
Two other Tuckers, senior Anthony Howell (42nd in 19:00.02) and junior Clay Davis (50th in 19:37.29), also cracked the top 50. They were followed by teammates Ralph Pugliese (56th in 19:58.66), Chris Mehalakes (59th in 20:05.96) and Kevin Schwartz (60th in 20:06.70).
The crisp autumn weather and the sunny sky made for ideal running conditions, that surely suited Half Hollow Hills East junior Sean Grossman just fine. Grossman, running a 5:26.4 mile pace, won the race in 16:53.89, beating out the runner-up, East Hampton junior Adam Cebulski, by less than four seconds. Two Babylon seniors, Matthew Finelli (17:00.53) and Tyler McGarvey (17:04.25), followed after them.
Hills East won the team scoring with 51 points. Mattituck was seventh among the 10 competing teams with 192 points.
Mattituck’s two best runners this season have been Marcos Perivolaris and Howell. Perivolaris turned his ankle recently and didn’t run on Thursday. Howell ran, but he has been hampered by injury, said Milliman.
Two Mattituck ninth-graders, Jack Dufton and Lucas Webb, claimed the first two places in the freshman race, which was run over a distance of 1.8 miles. Dufton’s time was 11:18.38; Webb was timed in 11:21.63. Five Tuckers were among the top 10 in that race, with the others being Eddie Dowling (fifth in 12:13.26), Matt Heffernan (seventh in 12:22.40) and Charles Zaloom (10th in 12:39.24).