They are champions x 3.
No question about it, the 2021 high school girls cross-country season had its challenges. Still, Mattituck must have found it triply delightful.
That’s because the Tuckers achieved a cross-country triple crown: League IX champions (courtesy of a 4-0 record), Division V champions and Suffolk County Class C champions.
“It’s been an awesome season,” coach Chris Robinson said. “I mean, yeah, it’s been cut short a little bit, but the work ethic and the effort continued. They never were thrown off by all the other stuff. They stayed focused. They understood what the goals were and we reached them.”
With the state championships canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mattituck capped this memorable season by winning its ninth straight county title last Thursday at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park. (Because of the pandemic, the 2020 season was pushed back to this March and April.)
“Everyone was just happy to keep the tradition going,” sophomore Ava Vaccarella said. “And for the younger girls in their first year with us, they just had a huge smile on their face, holding the plaques and the medals.”
The Tuckers had a lot to smile about as they took the team title with 23 points. Babylon was second with 33.
Vaccarella, who has been on the team since she was an eighth-grader, was the top Mattituck runner on the course, shortened from it typical 3.1 miles to 2.5 miles. She came in second place in a time of 16 minutes, 39.38 seconds. Babylon’s Kayla Hayes won in 16:33.24.
Speaking about the redesigned course, Vaccarella said: “It was definitely strange. A lot of people had different reactions to it because you’re going from Snake Hill to Cardiac [Hill]. Once you get Cardiac done with, it’s all downhill the rest of the way.”
The Tuckers, coming off their sixth successive division crown, took four of the top six places in the county race. Eighth-grader Georgia Buckley was third in 17:16.20, senior Bella Masotti fourth in 17:26.35 and senior Kylie Conroy sixth in 17:52.73. Also running for Mattituck were senior Nikki Searles (ninth in 19:20.88), senior Abby Rosato (11th in 19:26.90) and eighth-grader Rubi Villani (14th in 20:05.45).
“We did real well,” Robinson said. “The girls ran hard. They know that this was their last race. There are no states, so this was kind of their version of states, their last meet of the year.”
He continued: “We had a lot of young girls this year, but they know when they come into the program that it’s a successful program and there are shoes to fill and expectations, so I think they embrace those things and appreciate who has come before them and how much this program has been a part of a lot of these girls’ careers, successes. They want to continue that.”