10/21/14 7:50pm
10/21/2014 7:50 PM
Mattituck sophomore Melanie Pfennig (left) and senior Kaylee Bergen were the top two runners for the Tuckers Tuesday. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Mattituck sophomore Melanie Pfennig (left) and senior Kaylee Bergen were the top two runners for the Tuckers Tuesday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

The Mattituck girls cross country team doesn’t have the deepest roster compared to most teams competing in Tuesday’s Section XI Division Championships. Throughout the season, the Tuckers have had about 12 girls consistently at practices and competitions.

“I’d rather quality over quantity any day,” said Mattituck coach Julie Milliman.

And quality the Tuckers have.  (more…)

09/10/13 9:00pm
09/10/2013 9:00 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Southold junior Jon Rempe leads a deep team into the 2013 season.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Southold junior Jon Rempe leads a deep team into the 2013 season.

PREVIEW

Cross country is a sport that incorporates a team concept along with the individual aspect. In order to emphasize the team angle, the Southold boys team has adopted a motto for this season: “We run as one.”

It’s something coach Karl Himmelmann wants his runners to keep in mind when they are training or competing in a meet.

“Running can seem like a pretty solitary, isolated sport because you’re off by yourself, but it’s a team effort,” he said. “We run as a team.”

And the First Settlers hope to win as a team this season. They certainly have the ingredients.

Southold (4-2 last season) is coming off back-to-back Suffolk County Class D championships and is seen as a contender for the League VIII title this year. Its top runner, junior Jon Rempe, returns to a deep team along with freshman Owen Klipstein, junior Chris Buono and junior Michael Cosmadelis. Rempe and Klipstein were all-league runners last year. Rempe finished ninth in the Division IV team qualifier in the Section XI division championships at Sunken Meadow State Park last year. His time on the 3.1-mile course was 18 minutes 38.10 seconds.

“Jon Rempe has consistently been my top runner, but the other boys … have also been in that top mix as well,” said Himmelmann.

Like all cross-country coaches, it seems, injuries are a concern for Himmelmann, who knows that an injury to a key runner can knock a team off course. That is why he encourages his athletes to train smart, and has set up a training schedule to bring them along gradually. The idea is to strengthen muscles and joints for the season in the hope that it will help avoid pulled muscles and foot injuries.

But the First Settlers have already been hit by an injury. Gus Rymer, a junior who was the second Southold runner to reach the finish line in the divisional meet in 19:47.40, will miss the start of the season with a foot injury.

In the meantime, some newcomers to the team should help absorb his absence as well as the loss to graduation of four-year runner Jon Tomici and James Shine. Two juniors, Jeremy Rempe (Jon’s twin brother) and Gregory Quist, are new additions. So are five other first-year runners: sophomore Gage Bennett, sophomore Michael Gensler, freshman Joe Saporita, freshman Joe Tsoumpelis and senior Dan Stahl.

“A lot of these boys have been running all summer long,” said Himmelmann. He added: “They are all looking very strong. They’re looking fast.”

Another positive development for the cross-country program in Southold is the addition of junior high school boys and girls teams, both coached by John Palmeri. “That’s going to definitely help our program down the road,” said Himmelmann, who hasn’t had the benefit of junior high teams to draw from during his four years as the coach of Southold’s boys and girls varsity squads.

Meanwhile, the varsity team is eyeing a possible threepeat with county championships.

“I think we have a good shot,” Himmelmann said. “I think if the boys continue to progress, I think we have a legitimate shot.”

The sight of a small army of high school runners hopping off a team bus may not exactly be common, but it might be something someone would expect to see from a big school like St. Anthony’s or Sachem East. But tiny, little Mattituck?

“Last year we got a lot of looks,” said coach Julie Milliman, whose team started last season with 46 runners and finished with 40.

This year the number has dropped a little to 30, which is still a large size for a cross-country team, no less a cross-country team from a small school.

“We have a good mix,” Milliman said. “They push each other to be competitive, and with 30 kids you’re always going to have a friend.”

Of that 30, about 26 are returning runners and 13 are seniors.

Coming off a two-win, rebuilding season, the Tuckers expect to be more competitive this year. They are counting on veteran runners like senior Adam Hicks, sophomore Jack Dufton, sophomore Eddie Dowling, freshman Matt Heffernan, senior Bobby Becker, senior Kevin Schwartz, senior Chris Mehalakes and sophomore Lucas Webb. Hicks recorded a time of 19:21.80 that brought him 19th place in the division championships at Sunken Meadow.

“I do know that if some of these kids run to their potential, we’re going to fare much better than we did last year,” said Milliman, who is in her fourth year as the team’s coach. “They just have a more focused attitude, and I think they’re hungry for the prs.”

In Milliman’s first year, Mattituck had 12 runners, and that number grew to around 20 in her second year.

“It’s taken off,” she said. “As long as they have [good] attitudes … and they’re good kids, I’ll take as many as want to come out.”

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05/10/13 7:55pm
05/10/2013 7:55 PM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Sydney Sanders, one of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's two seniors, lookjing for a teammate to pass to.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Sydney Sanders, one of Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s two seniors, looking for a teammate to pass to during her last game for the Tuckers.

GOLDEN FLASHES 16, TUCKERS 7

The Mattituck/Greenport/Southold girls lacrosse team had a rough assignment on Friday. The Tuckers had their hands full dealing with Sayville, possibly the strongest team they have faced all year. And yet, despite that, perhaps the toughest thing the team’s two seniors had to do was keep their composure during an emotional Senior Day ceremony following the final game of their high school careers. One of the seniors, attackman Natalie Troisi, said she told herself not to cry.

It didn’t help.

“Yes, I did cry,” she said. “I mean, it’s just so upsetting.”

The other senior, attackman/defenseman Sydney Sanders, could relate. “It’s heartbreaking because I’m not going to continue playing in college,” she said, “so as the time was winding down, I was like, ‘This is it.’ ”

The final result, a 16-7 score in Sayville’s favor at Cutchogue West Elementary School, wasn’t what the Tuckers had hoped for, but it was hardly surprising. Sayville (14-2, 12-2 Suffolk County Division II), which started the day in third place, closed out the regular season with its seventh straight win. County champions in 2009 and county semifinalists last year, the Golden Flashes look primed for a run at the Suffolk Class B crown. Their only two losses have been by two goals to Mount Sinai and by one goal to defending county champion Eastport/South Manor.

“Our two losses were tough, against two very tough teams, close games,” said Sayville coach Adam Sznitken.

Furthermore, the Golden Flashes have pumped in 11.8 goals per game. But what really impressed on Friday was Sayville’s defense, which allows opponents no openings, no creases, no room to shoot. All the defensemen seemed to be in the right place at the right time, leaving the Tuckers with precious few passing options.

“We work hard on being in the right spots and getting to an aggressive point,” Sznitken said. “This year the defense has been the key, knowing that from our goalie to the seven girls playing back there on defense, we’re always going to give ourselves what we feel is a good shot to win a game. Yeah, it starts on the defense.”

All things considered, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold did a good job by scoring seven goals. Sayville has a team goals-against average of 5.81.

Although Mattituck/Greenport/Southold controlled 17 of the 26 draws, Sayville won the ground-ball battle, 19-10, and outshot the Tuckers, 25-17. All three of Sayville’s goalies — Gianna Minogue, Molly Andrews and Amber Craver — were well protected. They had two saves among them.

At the other end of the field, Sayville’s offense was taking care of business. Olivia Russell, a sophomore attackman, scored three goals as Sayville shot out to a 5-1 lead in the opening 12 minutes 11 seconds. She finished with six goals. Taylor Mills, a senior attackman, supplied four goals and four assists. Caroline DeLuca (two goals, one assist) and Kaitilyn Wandelt (two goals) also scored multiple goals for the Golden Flashes. Jewels Johnston (one goal, three assists) and Mackenzie Burns (one goal, two assists) also scored. Elizabeth Koehler contributed two assists.

Sanders scored in her final game for the Tuckers, cutting Sayville’s lead to 5-3 at 15:11 of the first half. Then Sayville netted six of the next seven goals.

The Tuckers received two goals and three assists from Katie Hoeg and two goals and one assist from Tricia Brisotti. Laurel Bertolas and Audrey Hoeg also found the net.

The Tuckers (5-11, 4-10) closed out the most successful season in the team’s four-year varsity history with their fifth consecutive loss. Last year they went 1-13.

This season the Tuckers won their first two games against Riverhead and Elwood/John Glenn before later taking games from Bellport, Hampton Bays and Center Moriches.

“Coming from last year, I wasn’t sure how we were going to do, but I’m so proud of this team,” Troisi said. “We pushed past what anyone expected. No one expected us to crush Bellport, to come close to Westhampton. I mean, these are good teams and we were holding our own.”

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach Julie Milliman said, “This was a good season because it shows them that they’re capable of winning.” She added: “We didn’t get blown out in as many games as we have in the past. There were only a few that were completely out of our reach, and next season I think we’ll close the gap even more.”

Of course, next season they will be without Sanders and Troisi, who are both three-year varsity players. They were presented with flowers and posters that their teammates wrote messages on and signed.

Troisi, who is considering playing at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue next year, said she was determined to put everything she had into her final game for the Tuckers.

“I just felt like I had to give it my all,” she said. “This is my last hurrah, you know. I had to really push as hard as I could. I tried to get back on D as much as I could, help the midfielders out.”

Sanders said it will take time for it to sink in that she had played her last lacrosse game.

“I think it will set in Monday, not going to practice,” she said. “It will be weird going home” after school.

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DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Audrey Hoeg taking a shot against Sayville goalie Molly Andrews.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Audrey Hoeg taking a shot against Sayville goalie Molly Andrews.

04/20/13 12:45pm
04/20/2013 12:45 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Audrey Hoeg trying to pass a Deer Park defender.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Audrey Hoeg trying to pass a Deer Park defender during Saturday’s game at Deer Park High School.

FALCONS 15, TUCKERS 12

Whether it’s as a goal scorer or an assist maker, it’s common for a Hoeg to figure in the scoring for the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold girls lacrosse team. Sometimes it’s a Hoeg-to-Hoeg connection for a goal, but the point is, a Hoeg is usually involved in there somewhere, and that’s just fine with the Tuckers.

The two freshmen, Audrey Hoeg and Katie Hoeg, are not only cousins, but they also happen to be the team’s top two offensive threats.

Audrey plays attack and Katie is a midfielder. The two agree that Audrey is more on the shy side while Katie is more outgoing. There is no resemblance between the Hoegs that would hint that they are related.

Perhaps the biggest similarity they share is the impact they bring when they step onto a lacrosse field.

To say that the Hoegs are vital to Mattituck/Greenport/Southold would not be too much. Tuckers coach Julie Milliman undoubtedly wouldn’t want to think about what life for her team would be like without them.

“We definitely rely on them heavily,” she said. “They’re both just critical players. Together, they’re kind of like the motor of our team.”

A typical example of what the Hoegs can do for the Tuckers was seen Saturday when every goal but one in a 15-12 loss at Deer Park High School was scored by the cousins. Katie Hoeg registered 7 goals from 9 shots and had 2 assists while Audrey Hoeg put up 4 goals and 2 assists. They combined three times for goals. The only goal a Hoeg didn’t score for the Tuckers was provided by Tricia Brisotti.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Katie Hoeg charging forward before scoring one of her 7 goals against Deer Park.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Katie Hoeg charging forward before scoring one of her 7 goals against Deer Park.

“They’re definitely both impact players,” Milliman said. “Katie controls more of the midfield and she plays a lot of good ‘D’ for us, and on attack she’s awesome. And Audrey’s kind of actually taken on a new role this year. We kind of just rely on her for some assists and some feeds up front. She causes a lot of turnovers [by] the other team. I have definitely seen both of them evolve into more complete players this year.”

That may help explain why the Tuckers (4-6, 3-5 Division II), in their fourth varsity season, have more wins in a season than they ever had before.

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold led for much of Saturday’s game before Deer Park scored 6 straight goals as part of a paralyzing 9-1 run in the second half that gave the Falcons a 15-10 lead. Nicolette Tortorici bagged 3 of her 4 goals during that decisive spurt. She also had 2 assists.

Deer Park (3-5, 2-4), which snapped a five-game losing streak, also received 3 goals each from Shannon Doolan and Hailey Leitch. Kaylan DiModugno contributed 2 goals and 3 assists to the victory and Jordan Lazarich added 2 goals and 1 assist.

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold never trailed until Tortorici scored on a free-position shot to break a 9-9 tie with 10 minutes 48 seconds left in the game.

“We had the momentum in the first half, and then they just took over,” said Katie Hoeg.

It was almost as if Deer Park flipped a switch.

“I’m proud of my girls that they were able to come together at halftime and, you know, really go out and play it all out,” Deer Park coach Anthony Saccone said. “They buckled down and did what they needed to do.”

Deer Park also put more pressure on the Hoegs, who at times found themselves covered by two or even three players. As the Hoegs have improved their game and gained more notoriety, partly through their play for a club team, the Long Island Elite Yellow Jackets, they have had to contend with the reality of more defensive attention and face guarding.

“It’s really frustrating, but I get used to it,” Katie Hoeg said. “We have ways to break it. I’m getting used to it by now.”

Both Hoegs come from lacrosse families. Audrey’s father, Tom, and Katie’s father, James, who is the Tuckers’ assistant coach, both played lacrosse for Smithtown. Tom also played college ball for William & Mary.

The cousins started playing when they were in first or second grade, developing different playing styles along the way.

“She’s more finesse, more sneaky,” Katie said, “and I’m more, just like I’ll say, a bull.”

Both styles work for the cousins, who share a passion for lacrosse, and a knack for putting the ball in the net.

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03/16/13 1:13pm
03/16/2013 1:13 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | From left, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Tricia Brisotti, Riverhead's Carolyn Carrera, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's Audrey Hoeg and Riverhead's Isabella LoPiccolo competing for a ground ball.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | From left, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Tricia Brisotti, Riverhead’s Carolyn Carrera, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s Audrey Hoeg and Riverhead’s Isabella LoPiccolo competing for a ground ball.

TUCKERS 13, BLUE WAVES 10

Some similarities can be found between the Riverhead and the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold girls lacrosse teams. Both squads are just emerging from infancy; Riverhead is in its third varsity season, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold is in its fourth. Both teams have a go-to player they can rely on; Riverhead looks to Carolyn Carrera, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold is led by Katie Hoeg.

The most significant difference between the teams on Saturday came down to this: Mattituck/Greenport/Southold has a season-opening win, and Riverhead doesn’t.

Hoeg was a big reason, too. Athletic, talented and competitive, Hoeg could probably do well in just about any sport she plays, but she may be at her best when that sport is lacrosse, her favorite.

Hoeg, a freshman who doesn’t play like a freshman, showed her value on Saturday. The midfielder shot in 6 goals from 9 shots and had 3 assists as the Tuckers downed Riverhead, 13-10, in a non-division season opener for both teams at Cutchogue West Elementary School. She also had 3 ground balls.

“She is a leader, but without having to say much,” Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach Julie Milliman said. “She just leads by example. She is very knowledgeable of the game. She knows what to do and she makes sure her teammates know what to do. She really controls the field. And she’s unselfish at the same time. When she plays well, the team plays well.”

No surprise there.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Katie Hoeg, who had 6 goals and 3 assists in Mattituck/Greenport/Southold's season-opening win, trying to maneuver around Riverhead's Isabella LoPiccolo.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Katie Hoeg, who had 6 goals and 3 assists in Mattituck/Greenport/Southold’s season-opening win, trying to maneuver around Riverhead’s Isabella LoPiccolo.

Hoeg played well as the Tuckers have already equaled their win total from last season.

“We did a good job as a team,” Hoeg said. “We improved so much from last year and we played a lot more as a team rather than as individuals.”

After falling behind, 3-1, in the opening 5 minutes 24 seconds, Mattituck/Greenport/Southold scored 4 straight goals (3 by Hoeg) to take the lead for good.

Sydney Sanders, Tricia Brisotti and Laurel Bertolas put in 2 goals apiece for the Tuckers. Audrey Hoeg, Katie’s cousin, had 1 goal and 2 assists. Natalie Troisi assisted twice.

“We did really well on offense,” Katie Hoeg said, “just like pacing and being patient and looking for each other.”

Nicole L’Hommedieu picked up the win in goal, making 5 saves.

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold did well in draw control, holding a 17-8 advantage over Riverhead in that area.

“Honestly, it was what I expected,” Milliman said of her team’s performance. “They have come to practice ever since Day 1 and they have worked hard every day. And every day they leave better players and as a better team. I expected them to do something good on the field.”

Ashley King, a former Shoreham-Wading River star player who went on to play for Massachusetts and Louisville in college, made her debut as Riverhead’s new coach. It wasn’t a winning one despite 4 goals and 2 assists from Carrera, a junior midfielder who has verbally committed to play lacrosse and soccer for Hofstra University. Sam Brodeur added 2 goals and 1 assist, Emily Jehle and Amanda Dickerson struck for 2 goals each, and Sabina Dorr passed for 4 assists for the Blue Waves.

The loss aside, Carrera said she has seen noticeable improvement in the Blue Waves since last year.

“We have a lot of potential,” she said. “Of course, I’m disappointed in the loss. A loss you can always improve on, but I’m not disappointed in the team. We’re in this together. We’re a family. We’re coming through this.”

King said turnovers hurt Riverhead, but she liked what she saw from players like Carrera, defenseman Michelle Danowski (“She’s an unbelievable, aggressive little fireball”) and attackman Sabina Dorr.

In the game’s final minutes, with the win secure, the Tuckers passed the ball around like veterans, draining the remaining time off the clock.

“We showed that we know how to win,” Milliman said. “We’ve never really been up at the end of a game and really had to kill time. Usually the other team is passing around on us out of mercy and feeling bad. We really showed that we can control the game when we want to.”

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03/11/13 8:00pm
03/11/2013 8:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold will rely on its all-league center midfielder and leading scorer from last season, Katie Hoeg.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold will rely on its all-league center midfielder and leading scorer from last season, Katie Hoeg.

The transition from losing team to winning team is a process, and it takes time. Typically, as a losing team improves, it goes from losing games by a lot to losing games by a little, and then, perhaps, to winning games.

The coach of the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold girls lacrosse team, Julie Milliman, saw her team close the gap somewhat last season, even if it wasn’t reflected in the 1-13 record.

“We were in more games last year and it looks like our team wants to win those games,” Milliman said. “This year we’re looking to win some of those games, hopefully.”

A big help for the Tuckers is the presence of their standout freshman center midfielder, Katie Hoeg, an all-league player who was the team’s leading scorer.

“She’s just a naturally talented athlete with lacrosse, and on top of it, she loves it,” Milliman said. “Every day she comes to practice and she works. She’s a phenomenal athlete, and she has the character.”

Five other returning starters are back. In addition to Hoeg’s cousin, freshman attackman Audrey Hoeg, there are junior defender Molly Kowalski, senior attackman Sydney Sanders, sophomore midfielder Trisha Brisotti and junior attackman Laurel Bertolas.

Natalie Troisi, a senior attackman, and Colby Prokop, a sophomore midfielder who was injured last season, return as well. Nikki L’Hommedieu, a junior who has played well for the junior varsity team, is the team’s No. 1 goalie.

“We’re still young,” said Milliman.

Milliman’s biggest worry, though, may be related to her defense. The Tuckers lost three starting defenders, an unsettling prospect for a team that was often playing in its own half of the field.

“We lost a lot of defense,” Milliman said. “Right now that’s going to be our focus.”

She said the Tuckers are working on controlling the draw and maintaining possession.

Milliman said all of the Tuckers will have roles to play.

“Being out in a small school, it’s difficult because we face a challenge every year with the numbers,” the coach said. “All the girls there, every last one of them, is going to matter.”

According to Milliman, it will be a successful season “if the girls develop as players and we develop as a team and we have fun along the way.”

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10/23/12 4:30pm
10/23/2012 4:30 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Southold sophomore Jon Rempe was the ninth-place finisher in the Division IV team qualifier.

DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS

The mere mention of Sunken Meadow State Park and its famed Cardiac Hill is enough to make more than a few cross-country runners shudder. Not Jon Rempe, though. The Southold High School sophomore not only doesn’t mind running the famed course, but he welcomes the challenge.

“I like it better than Indian Island” County Park, Rempe said. “There’s nothing bad about it. The hills help me out.”

And the competition Rempe faced in the Division IV team qualifier in the Section XI division championships at Sunken Meadow State Park on Tuesday didn’t hurt, either. “It makes you push faster,” he said.

Rempe pushed himself to a ninth-place finish. His time from the 5,000-meter run was 18 minutes 38.10 seconds.

“It wasn’t what I had hoped, but I guess it worked out pretty good,” he said.

Another sophomore, Nicholas Berglin of Hampton Bays, won the race in 18:02.10.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Mattituck senior Anthony Howell posted a 13th-place finish with his fastest time ever at Sunken Meadow State Park: 19 minutes 0.50 seconds.

Mattituck senior Anthony Howell was four places behind Rempe, and for good reason. He said he was using Rempe as a target to follow.

Howell’s time of 19:00.50 was the best he had ever clocked on the course.

“It wasn’t the time I really wanted,” Howell said. “I was hoping for 18:45, but it was close enough, and I haven’t run this meet in a while, so it was satisfying.”

Since Mattituck lost its top runner, Marcos Perivolaris, to an ankle sprain, Howell has become the team’s new No. 1.

“He works hard and I’m proud of him,” Mattituck coach Julie Milliman said. “I really don’t know how much better he’s going to get, but he’s been getting better every race. He’s one of those guys who’s really never happy with his times, which is why he is always getting better.”

Mattituck junior Adam Hicks registered a time of 19:21.80 that was good for 19th place. The Tuckers who followed him were junior Jake Nolan (28th in 19:52.40), eighth-grader Matt Heffernan (29th in 19:54.10), freshman Jack Dufton (32nd in 20:00.90), junior Clay Davis (33rd in 20:03.00) and freshman Lucas Webb (38th in 20:13.60).

Gus Rhymer, a sophomore, was the second Southold runner to reach the finish line. He was 27th in 19:47.40. The other First Settlers who competed were eighth-grader Owen Klipstein (41st in 20:44.10), sophomore Christopher Buono (52nd in 22:24.60), junior Ian Toy (53rd in 22:27.30), freshman Ronan Guyer (54th in 22:32.90) and senior John Tomici (65th in 24:43.10).

Mattituck was 18th in the team scoring with 113 points. Southold was 27th with 173.

A light rain fell during the race, but the weather conditions were otherwise pleasant. Howell said the course was in good shape. As for those hills, he didn’t seem to mind them, either.

He said, “Sometimes you’re going downhill, and that gives you a break.”

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10/11/12 6:58pm
10/11/2012 6:58 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Adam Hicks of Mattituck holds off Mount Sinai’s Keegan Sabo near the finish line to grab 23rd place in a personal-best time of 18 minutes 28.56 seconds.

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.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck junior Jake Nolan ran his fastest time ever, 18 minutes 50.23 seconds, and was 33rd among 138 finishers.

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).

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09/12/12 11:00pm
09/12/2012 11:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Southold sophomore Jonathan Rempe was the Suffolk County Class D champion last year.

Drama and excitement mixed for a thrilling finish to the Class D race in last year’s Section XI boys cross-country championships at Sunken Meadow State Park. The Southold team undoubtedly remembers it well because it was on that nippy November afternoon when its sixth runner, Matthew Reilly, made a difference in bringing his team a county championship.

The top five runners for each team score points based on their finish. In the event that teams are tied on points, the placement of their respective sixth runners is used as the tiebreaker. So, that is what it came down to when Southold and The Stony Brook School both found themselves with 28 points apiece. With the exception of a single Pierson runner, all of the top 12 Class D finishers were wearing Southold or Stony Brook uniforms.

Fortunately for Southold, though, Reilly’s 12th-place finish on the 3.1-mile course in 21 minutes 55.00 seconds was huge. He had beaten Stony Brook’s sixth finisher, Darryl Baker, by five places, and that’s how the First Settlers became county champions.

“That’s the thing that I impress upon the team,” Southold coach Karl Himmelmann said, “it’s not necessarily the boys who come in first, second or third place” who determine the outcome of a race.

By virtue of its county title, Southold’s top seven runners had the opportunity to run in the state meet at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School. Four of those runners are back, including all-league runner Jonathan Rempe. Rempe, a sophomore, was the Suffolk Class D champion last year in a time of 19:17.50 at Sunken Meadow’s notoriously hilly course. He finished 76th out of 120 Class D runners in the state meet.

“I definitely see good things from him this year,” Himmelmann said. “He’s been running all summer long.”

The other returning Southold runners who competed in the state meet are senior John Tomici, junior Ian Toy and senior Ryan Hanrahan.

Southold (3-3 in Suffolk County League VIII last year) has a deep corps of runners beyond the five who will score points in dual meets. A strong season is expected from sophomore Gus Rymer, junior Anthony Esposito and sophomore Chris Buono.

A key for Southold is the training its runners have done over the summer to prepare for the season. Offseason training is critical in cross country.

“I’ve definitely been seeing good things from them in practice over the last few weeks,” Himmelmann said. “We just look at their hard work and diligence. They’re putting in the miles.”

In fact, Himmelmann said it is the team’s commitment that he likes best. “They have a very strong sense of commitment that they want to be as fast as they can, and I’m seeing that in their practices every day,” he said.

Mattituck coach Julie Milliman was anticipating a big turnout for the first day of preseason practice, but even that didn’t fully prepare her for what she saw. When Milliman saw how many runners had come out for the team, she was taken aback.

“I was like, ‘We’re going to need another coach,’ ” she said.

The Tuckers added an assistant coach, Chris Robinson, to help Milliman oversee a varsity team with 40 runners. That’s right, 40!

Over half of them are returning runners.

“It looks like a football team,” Milliman said. “When you see them warming up on the line, you have to see it. I’ve never seen so many kids on a cross-country team.”

Last year’s team, which had close to 30 runners, performed quite well, going 5-1 and tying Port Jefferson and Center Moriches for first place in League VII.

“It was obviously a highlight of my short career,” said Milliman, who is in her third year as the team’s coach.

But the Tuckers lost their top two runners, Corey Zlatniski (Utica) and senior Casey Grathwohl, who both ran in the state meet last year. Zlatniski has graduated, and Grathwohl opted to play soccer this fall.

Despite all its runners, Mattituck can count only three seniors among them. Just who will emerge as the team’s top runners in 2012 remains to be seen.

Heading the cast of returners are senior Anthony Howell, sophomore Marcos Perivolaris and juniors Jake Nolan, Adam Hicks, Clay Davis, Ross Pugliese and Kevin Schwartz. Another junior, Connor Malone, is also in the mix.

“There’s plenty of runners to choose from,” said Milliman.

But with so many runners comes complications. Practices are more involved and a question has arisen as to how many buses will be needed to transport the Mattituck boys and girls teams to meets. The teams used to share one bus, which may no longer be enough.

“It’s tough to manage sometimes, but I think it’s good because they kind of push each other,” Milliman said. “There are so many kids involved in the program that it is already a success in itself.”

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