The Southold High School boys cross-country team no longer has Owen Klipstein, but the First Settlers do have a “Core Four.”
Juniors Michael Daddona, Michael Chacon, Patrick Connolly and Anakin Mignone were Southold’s top scorers last season along with Klipstein, who had a remarkable run of competing in five successive state meets before graduating.
“They’re going to be the key to having a successful season as far as wins and losses in the dual meets,” said coach Karl Himmelmann, whose team went 4-2 in Suffolk County League VIII last year.
Daddona, an All-League runner, reached the state meet last year by virtue of his eighth-place finish in the Section XI Championships Class C race. His time at Sunken Meadow State Park’s 3.1-mile course was 19 minutes, 46.20 seconds. Chacon was 13th in 20:34.87.
“Michael Daddona is looking strong,” Himmelmann said. “He is a hard worker. He and Michael Chacon are very similar.”
Also running for Southold are sophomore James Hoyt, junior Rob Elliston, sophomore Jake Boivin and freshmen Andrew Clausen, Jackson Volosik, Chris Weschler and Nicholas Diaz.
Chris Kucznyski, a sophomore from Greenport, will run as an independent athlete, training and following Southold’s schedule. He has been nicknamed “The Machine.” Himmelmann said: “The kid just runs and he goes … He’s a strong runner. He’s built like a runner and I think he’s going to have a successful season.”
Southold will have to contend with strong teams from traditional power Port Jefferson and Shelter Island in League VIII. Himmelmann said, “We definitely have our work cut out for us, but I think we can be competitive again this year.”
Christian Demchak’s best race of the 2016 season took him far, all the way to Chenango Forks for the state meet. But the Mattituck runner took a fall early in the state race, something he wasn’t happy about.
“I just told him, ‘Next year you’re going to come back up and show your stuff,’ so I really think he’s got something to prove,” coach Mike Jablonski said. “If we can get him to Rochester [for the state meet on Nov. 11] it would be a great experience.”
A bigger, stronger Demchak would like to cap off his junior season by returning to the state stage. Jablonski is hopeful that other Mattituck runners like senior Connor Smith and sophomore Chris Dinizio will join him.
Also among the upper echelon of Mattituck’s 24 runners are sophomores Ethan Schmidt and Eric Palencia. Luke Woods, an eighth-grader who ran for the junior high school team last year, could be one of Mattituck’s top seven runners.
Mattituck (2-3) faces tough competition in League VII from defending champion Center Moriches and Southampton.
“It’s a clean slate now,” Jablonski said. “I’m a dreamer, so I think we could do very well, and I think [sending] two or three [runners] upstate would be nice. I think we can do better in the league and we might surprise some people.”
Photo caption: Southold junior Michael Daddona was an All-League runner last year who reached the state meet. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)