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09/06/15 12:00pm
09/06/2015 12:00 PM

Mattituck's top runner from last year, Melanie Pfennig, returns for her junior season. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)

Julie Milliman apparently isn’t one to dwell on the past, even the recent past, which has to conjure happy memories for her. Last year, her first as coach of the Mattituck High School girls cross-country team, Milliman saw her team pull off the triple crown. READ

09/08/14 12:38pm
09/08/2014 12:38 PM
From left, Melanie Pfennig, Kaylee Bergen and Audrey Hoeg are among 10 returning runners for defending county champion Mattituck. (Credit: Garret Meade)

From left, Melanie Pfennig, Kaylee Bergen and Audrey Hoeg are among 10 returning runners for defending county champion Mattituck. (Credit: Garret Meade)

PREVIEW

Before the Class C race in last year’s Section XI girls cross country championships, Audrey Hoeg pointed to the finish line at Sunken Meadow State Park and told her Mattituck teammates: “The championship is right over there. It’s right at the finish line. We can go get it.”

She was right.

For the second year in a row, the Tuckers (4-1) won a county championship. Three Tuckers were among the top eight places and six were among the first 18 as Mattituck, without a single senior, beat out the runner-up, Center Moriches, by 6 points. (more…)

11/02/13 7:41pm
11/02/2013 7:41 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Mattituck freshman Melanie Pfennig, shown here during the division championship, helped lead the Tuckers to a second straight county title Saturday at Sunken Meadow State Park.

SECTION XI CHAMPIONSHIPS

Before the official announcement, the word was conveyed to the Mattituck girls cross-country team that it had indeed won a second straight Suffolk County Class C championship on Saturday. The Tuckers immediately hugged each other with tears of joy streaming down their faces.

Three Tuckers finished among the top eight places and six were among the first 18 in the Section XI Championships at Sunken Meadow State Park. They gave Mattituck 39 points, which was 6 less than the runner-up, Center Moriches (in cross country, less points is better), and all of them will compete in the state meet that will be held Saturday at Queensbury High School.

Mattituck freshman Melanie Pfennig was the second Class C runner to complete Sunken Meadow State Park’s reconfigured 3.1-mile course in 21 minutes 2.99 seconds. Center Moriches junior Ryleigh Donegan won the race in 20:52.14.

Shortly after, the rest of the Mattituck runners, not a single senior among them, crossed the finish line: Mia Vasile-Cozzo (seventh in 22:54.39), Audrey Hoeg (eighth in 22:55.33), Kaylee Bergen (11th in 23:18.96), Tiana Baker (15th in 24:17.89) and Sascha Rosin (18th in 24:31.67).

Bishop McGann-Mercy sophomore Meg Tuthill qualified for the state meet for the second year in a row by virtue of her fifth-place finish in 22:38.30.

Shoreham-Wading River eighth-grader Katharine Lee, with only several 3.1-mile races under her belt, surprised even herself by coming in second in the Class B race. Lee’s time was 20:07.37, which was second only to the 19:37.41 put up by Miller Place senior Tiana Guevara.

Two other Shoreham-Wading River runners, Kaitlyn Ohrtmann (20:32.52) and Alexandra Hays (20:46.21), finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Ohrtmann qualified for the state meet; Hayes missed qualifying by one place.

The Wildcats (79 points) finished second in the team scoring to runaway champion Miller Place (34).

In the Class D race, Southold senior Katie Connolly took third place to earn a ticket upstate. She posted a time of 23:26.17.

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09/10/13 7:00pm
09/10/2013 7:00 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Kaylee Bergen, a junior, is one of Mattituck's three all-county runners.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Kaylee Bergen, a junior, is one of Mattituck’s three all-county runners.

PREVIEW

Sometime in the near future, one should start seeing girls walking the hallways of Mattituck High School wearing T-shirts and jackets that proclaim them to be the 2012 Suffolk County Class C cross-country champions.

The championship is history, the T-shirts and jackets are on order, and the Tuckers have begun work on defending their title. Those wonderful memories from last year are still fresh, though.

What a season it was. Mattituck went 4-1 in League VII before winning the county title. It then went on to run in the state meet, finishing fourth in its class, the highest a Class C team has ever finished in New York State, according to coach Jean Mahoney.

“It was exhilarating; it was great,” said Mahoney, who was the Suffolk Class C Coach of the Year. “Most teams from Section XI were like, ‘Where is Mattituck?’ They were blown away that this little team from this little farm town could go all the way.”

Mattituck returns all but one runner from last year’s team, and should still be strong. Three all-county runners — freshman Melanie Pfennig, junior Kaylee Bergen and sophomore Audrey Hoeg — are among them.

Providing further depth are sophomore Mia Vasile-Cozzo, sophomore Taylor Berkoski, senior Hallie Kujawski, sophomore Briana Perino and junior Sarah Sheppard.

Sara Goerler, a sophomore who is a former soccer player, has joined the team along with freshmen Sascha Rosin, Katie Stumpf and Tina Imbriano.

“I like the way they work together,” Mahoney said. “They work hard. They’re a good team. They have a good work ethic, and that’s huge.”

Do they have what it takes to repeat as county champions?

“I hope so,” Mahoney answered. “It all depends on how hard they work. They have to want it. They have to want to do better than they did last year.”

The way the Southold First Settlers (5-1 last season) look at it, what they lack in numbers, they have to make up for in heart and determination.

In dual meets, the top five runners for each team score points, and that is what Southold has, five runners. No more, no less.

“It definitely has an impact in that we don’t have room for injuries,” said coach Karl Himmelmann, whose team was the League VIII runner-up last year. “We need these five girls, and they know this: They have to work together and work hard and give the best effort that they can do. That’s all I can ask from them. I’m not going to ask for anything other than for them to give their best effort.”

The team is led by two four-year runners, seniors Shannon Guyer and Katie Connolly. They were both all-league runners and the team’s top two runners last year. Guyer (16th in 23 minutes 6.20 seconds) and Connolly (17th in 23:19.50) were the top two Southold finishers in Division IV in the county division championships over 3.1 miles at Sunken Meadow State Park last year. Connolly and Guyer both qualified for the county championships last year, but that meet was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy.

“They’re going to be the foundation of the team this year in terms of leadership,” Himmelmann said. “They’re both poised to do strong this year. They’ve both been running throughout the summer. They look strong in practices.”

Katie Hunstein, a sophomore who was among the team’s top five runners last season, also returns. Freshmen Julia McAllister and Carlie Wegley are new to the team.

“Even though they’re still only five, it’s like that old saying,” Himmelmann said, “you got to be in it to win it, and they’re definitely in it.”

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10/23/12 4:43pm
10/23/2012 4:43 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Mattituck sophomore Kaylee Bergen won the Division IV championship race at Sunken Meadow State Park in 20 minutes 11.90 seconds.

DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS

Some cross-country runners aren’t afraid to go the extra mile. One can count Kaylee Bergen among them.

As with all top runners, Bergen’s goal is to reach the finish line with nothing left in her tank, having expended every ounce of energy she has on the course.

“At some points I kind of pushed it a little bit more, but toward the end I was pretty wiped out, so that’s how I like to feel,” the Mattituck High School sophomore said. “A few of my teammates have puked at the end. I’ve never done that, which I’m O.K. with, but I admire people pushing themselves that hard.”

Bergen has drawn the admiration of her coach for her performance this season. Most recently, Bergen finished first in the Division IV championship race of the Section XI division championships that were run at Sunken Meadow State Park on Tuesday. She completed the 5,000-meter distance in 20 minutes 11.90 seconds, which is her best time ever on the demanding, hilly course.

“I felt good,” said Bergen, whose nearest Division IV competitor was Bayport-Blue Point sophomore Brianna Delzell (20:31.60). “My times have been in the 19s, but that’s because the courses have been easier or they’ve been three miles instead of a 5K [3.1 miles], but I’m satisfied because that’s my personal record for a 5K here.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shannon Guyer was the first Southold finisher, coming in 16th place in the Division IV championship race.

Mattituck coach Jean Mahoney had a more effusive reaction.

“Kaylee was amazing,” Mahoney said. “She works really hard. She’s very determined, and she’s really come through this year. She always does.”

Four Tuckers were among the top 11 Division IV finishers. Tara Gatz, a junior, was third in 20:50.70, eighth-grader Melanie Pfenning came in 10th in 21:19.40 and was immediately followed by freshman Audrey Hoeg, who was 11th in 21:20.50. Also competing for the Tuckers were freshman Mia Vasile-Cozzo (15th in 22:25.70), senior Sara Paparatto (19th in 24:16.20) and sophomore Leah Santacroce (22nd in 24:32.30).

Mattituck finished fourth among 19 teams in the division with 30 points and an average time of 21:13.64 for its seven runners.

“They did great,” Mahoney said. “I’m really proud of them. I can’t tell you how wonderful these girls are.”

The top Southold runner was junior Shannon Guyer, who clocked a time of 23:06.20 and was 16th. She finished one place ahead of teammate Katie Connolly (23:19.50). Also running for the First Settlers were Justine Kundmueller (20th in 24:25.90), Shelby Pickerell (21st in 24:28.70), Katie Saporita (24th in 28:50.60) and Caitlyn Cassidy (25th in 31:17.30).

As a team, Southold was 11th with 77 points.

Sunken Meadow State Park, recognized as one of the toughest courses in the nation, is a challenge. It’s also a good measuring stick to see where runners stand.

“It’s good to compare with other teams and see how we’re doing,” said Guyer.

Bergen said, “It is a tough course, so you have to see how hard you can push yourself.”

Mahoney was clearly happy with Tuesday’s results.

“I’m really thrilled about this team,” she said. “I knew from the very beginning that I had a lot of talent, and they have lived up to every expectation and gone beyond.”

MATTITUCK TAKES FIFTH AT BROWN Mattituck placed fifth overall among 30 teams in the varsity Division I five-kilometer race in the Brown University Northeast Cross-Country Championship at Goddard Park in Rhode Island on Saturday. Kaylee Bergen was the first Mattituck girl to complete the muddy course, coming in fifth in 19:39. Her teammate, Melanie Pfenning, placed 17th in 20:13.

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10/11/12 7:01pm
10/11/2012 7:01 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Kaylee Bergen turned in a sixth-place finish in 20 minutes 11.16 seconds, leading Mattituck to the team title in the Westhampton Beach Invitational.

WESTHAMPTON BEACH INVITATIONAL

It was something of an education for the Mattituck girls cross-country team earlier this season when it picked up some hardware for winning the team title in the Peconic Invitational and then again for taking first place in the sophomore race in the Jim Smith Invitational.

“Who knew that you could win trophies in cross country?” asked Mattituck coach Jean Mahoney.

Mattituck enjoyed a similar experience on Thursday, taking first place in the Westhampton Beach Invitational at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead. The only difference was that this time no trophy was awarded.

“We don’t get a trophy?” one of the Tuckers asked in a disappointed tone.

It’s funny how quickly Mattituck, which is 4-0 and tied with Bayport-Blue Point for first place in Suffolk County League VII, has gotten used to winning.

Mahoney can’t say she has been surprised by her team’s fortunes. She saw good things coming this season. “I knew that I had a lot of talent,” she said. “It’s exciting.”

The excitement continued Thursday. With three Mattituck runners finishing among the top 10 in the Westhampton Beach Invitational, Mattituck totaled 57 points, topping second-place Mount Sinai by 27 points.

Leading the charge in the Meaghan Packard girls varsity race for Mattituck was sophomore Kaylee Bergen, who took sixth place with a time of 20 minutes 11.16 seconds on the 3.1-mile course.

“She’s having a great season,” Mahoney said. “She’s gotten better and better.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck junior Tara Gatz was the eighth runner to cross the finish line in 20 minutes 22.40 seconds.

Mattituck junior Tara Gatz was eighth in 20:22.40 and her eighth-grade teammate Melanie Pfenning was 10th in 20:56.68.

Also scoring for Mattituck were freshmen Audrey Hoeg (15th in 21:15.58) and Mia Vasile-Cozzo (18th in 21:29.08).

“Our first five girls came relatively close to each other,” Bergen said. “That’s always good.”

Hampton Bays senior Shanna Heaney took first place in 19:37.88, with second going to East Hampton sophomore Dana Cebulski (19:43.54) and third to Westhampton Beach senior Stephanie Vickers (19:54.86).

But it was Mattituck that made the best overall team showing.

“It really comes down to how hard you push in practice,” Bergen said. “Push until you feel sick. That’s it.”

Mahoney said this is the strongest Mattituck team since the mid-1990s. Mattituck has five runners who have run 3.1 miles in under 22:00: Bergen, Gatz, Hoeg, Pfenning and Vasile-Cozzo. Over the course of the season, Bergen, Gatz and Pfenning have been the team’s leading runners. Depending on the day, depending on the course, each of them has finished ahead of the others.

The Tuckers come from different athletic backgrounds, but they all seem to have brought their competitive spirit.

“They’re very determined to win,” Mahoney said. “They’re very competitive, even among one another. We’ve all agreed, you have to compete with each other, but be friends off the course.”

Bergen said, “There are so many different kinds of people from different cliques, I guess, and they all just mesh together through the pain of running together.”

Mattituck was ranked 18th — the highest-ranking Long Island team — among New York State Class C teams by www.armorytrack.com on Oct. 9. The Tuckers had been ranked as high as 13th.

And the good news for the Tuckers is they are young. The team should be good for some time to come. Sara Paparatto is the only senior among the team’s top seven runners. Natalie Troisi is the team’s only other senior.

Gatz, a first-year cross-country runner, has enjoyed her introduction to the sport. “I love it,” she said. She said her teammates are “competitive but close. We push each other a lot. We run together a lot. We’re trying to push for the states. We all push each other, and we all strive for our best, but we all lean on each other.”

Smiling faces abounded as the triumphant Tuckers celebrated their latest victory and posed for a team photo.

“They’re happy,” Mahoney said. “It brings them up and it makes them feel good, and they’re confident.”

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09/12/12 9:00pm
09/12/2012 9:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | The best runner for Southold last year, all-league junior Colette Steele, has moved to Mattituck, but is currently sidelined with a foot stress fracture.

One can imagine what Karl Himmelmann’s reaction was when the coach learned this past spring that the fastest runner on his Southold girls cross-country team, Colette Steele, was moving to Mattituck and would no longer be on his team.

It should be mentioned that it was Steele who led the First Settlers to a 5-0 dual-meet record and the Suffolk County League VIII title last year. And it was Steele who turned in her best time ever at Sunken Meadow State Park’s 3.1-mile course — 21 minutes 46.00 seconds — to finish in second place and help bring Southold the Class D crown in the Section XI Championships.

And now the all-league junior is gone.

Though disappointed, Himmelmann keeps things in perspective. “Certainly she was a great part for our team,” he said. “Obviously she is a strong runner. Certainly I was disappointed. But our team is not built on one person. There are going to be things that you can’t control. Kids are going to move, kids get hurt.”

On the plus side, Steele’s departure aside, Southold has all of its other runners back. Among them are three all-league performers — senior Shelby Pickerell (fifth in the county meet in 23:57.50), junior Katie Connolly (sixth in the county meet in 24:24.80) and junior Shannon Guyer (ninth in the county meet in 25:22.00). Another returner, senior Megan Moran, was 11th in the county meet in 27:06.60.

Savannah Calderale, a junior, and Caitlyn Cassidy, a senior, are also varsity veterans. New to the team are junior Justine Kundmueller and senior Katie Saporita.

Among the 11 Class D teams that competed in last year’s state meet, Southold was seventh.

“The girls had an amazing season last year,” Himmelmann said. “They were each individually very strong. Day in and day out, I could always count on them to do whatever I asked of them in practice.”

Comparing this year’s team with last year’s version, the third-year coach said: “All the same qualities of last year’s team, I see them this year. They’re pushing each other. Success sometimes builds on success. I think they see from the end of last year the results of their hard work.”

Mattituck coach Jean Mahoney has a lot to feel good about, and not just because Colette Steele has joined the Tuckers. Mahoney believes this just may be the best Mattituck team she has coached.

“This year I have depth and talent, and I’m just really excited,” Mahoney said. “As long as they stay healthy, we’re going to do great.”

Although Steele is an undoubted talent, she has a stress fracture in her foot, and Mahoney doesn’t know when the transfer will be running again.

But Mattituck can count on sophomore Kaylee Bergen and freshman Audrey Hoeg, who last year in their first cross-country season both made the all-league team and ran in the state meet. Bergen was second in the county championships at Sunken Meadow State Park in 20:37.00, clipping 37 seconds off her previous best time on the course. Hoeg was fifth in 22:03.80.

Also back from last year’s team are senior Sara Paparatto, junior Hallie Kujawski and sophomore Leah Santacroce. Joining the team are freshman Taylor Berkoski, freshman Christina Hatzinikolau, junior Tara Gatz, freshman Brianna Perino, junior Samantha Perino, eighth-grader Melanie Pfenning, freshman Mia Vasile-Cozzo, sophomore Sarah Sheppard and junior Natalie Troisi.

Mahoney said Gatz, a former tennis player, is someone to look out for. “She not only pushes herself, she pushes the boys team and she pushes my team,” said the coach.

Then again, Mattituck may be a team to look out for. Mahoney raves about the Tuckers’ work ethic and dedication. Perhaps the Tuckers will contend for the League VII title along with Bayport-Blue Point and Hampton Bays.

“It’s exciting knowing how much these girls want to win,” Mahoney said. “It’s going to be an amazing season. This year’s athletes are very competitive. They push each other and they are really determined to go to the states.”

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