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.”
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.