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Boys Cross Country: Southold runners compete in division championship after first league title in 30 years

Like many other cross-country runners, Flynn Klipstein has a love/hate relationship with Sunken Meadow State Park’s hilly 3.1-mile course in Kings Park.

“It’s a completely different race coming out here, but it’s a fun challenge,” the Southold High School sophomore said. “Everyone loves it, everyone hates it — but they love it.”

True to Klipstein’s word, he had a bit to like and dislike during the Section XI division championships at the legendary course Thursday.

Klipstein was aiming to break 18 minutes, 30 seconds, and he did that by clocking 18:19.4, bringing him fifth place among Division 4 runners in the boys championship race.

He liked that.

“It’s a challenge, but it pushes you,” Klipstein said of the course. “Oh, it’s a hard course. It’s hard to compare times, but when you get a good time on this course it feels so much better just because of the difficulty.”

For one thing, in terms of training, the flat North Fork really has nothing to replicate Sunken Meadow’s hills, although teams typically run invitational meets on it over the course of the season in preparation for big postseason meets such as this one.

Westhampton Beach swept the top two overall places through Gavin Ehlers (16:24.9) and Maximus Haynia (16:28.3). 

Southampton’s William Malone was the first Division 4 finisher in 17:40.5.

The Southold boys are coming off a dual-meet season in which they won the League VIII championship with a 7-0 record, their first league title in 30 years, according to coach Karl Himmelmann.

Klipstein said Himmelmann told his runners before Thursday’s race “that since we were in the lead, everyone’s coming for us. He told us to put those thoughts away, run your race and do the best that you can do, and good things will happen.”

Southold’s Matthew Molnar was 15th in Division 4 in 19:21.8. He was later followed to the finish line by teammates Jack Goscinski (20th in 19:35.3), Robert Doering (21st in 19:54.1), Ryan Luhrs (29th in 21:16.2), Tate Klipstein (34th in 21:58.3) and Luke Gibbs (36th in 25:49.1). The Klipsteins are brothers.

“We run together,” said Flynn Klipstein, speaking of his teammates. “During the offseason we hang out together, even at school, maybe sometimes out of school. Just a really close team.”

Port Jefferson won the Division 4 team title with 53 points. Southold was fifth with 85.

The weather conditions were ideal for running — not too cold, not too hot, with little to no wind. It made for virtually ideal running conditions.

“It was,” Flynn Klipstein said. “Great temperature. Your body’s not overheating because that wind is cooling you down. It wasn’t really muddy on the course.”

As much as the weather, Flynn Klipstein has been enjoying this season, which will continue with the Section XI Championships Nov. 5 at Sunken Meadow.

“I’m loving this season,” he said. “It’s great. It’s so much better than last year when you couldn’t really compare times because last year we ran 2.5 miles with COVID and it’s just so much better this year.”