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.”