Chenango Valley State Park’s five-kilometer course in Chenango Forks is relatively flat, but Flynn Klipstein surely wasn’t.
Klipstein wanted to break 18 minutes and finish among the top 20 in the boys Class D race at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association cross-country championships Saturday. Mission accomplished on both counts.
Klipstein ran a tactical race that brought the Southold High School sophomore 13th place. That was good enough to make Klipstein the first Southold boy to be designated All-State in cross country, according to coach Karl Himmelmann.
What’s more, Klipstein’s time of 17:33.3 was the fastest he had ever run over five kilometers (3.1 miles). Not bad for a day’s run.
“I’m just really satisfied at the results,” said Klipstein, who missed qualifying for Saturday’s federation championships in Wappingers Falls by two slots.
Himmelmann said, “I was thrilled.”
Running in a light rain, Klipstein was in eighth place around the half-mile mark and about 20th halfway through the race. He reeled in more runners to move up to 13th until the final sprint when he passed one more runner, he said. Beaver River senior Colton Kempney was first in 16:06.5.
“I was super excited because throughout the whole race I was just afraid that that whole group was going to catch me because there was a tight pack,” Klipstein said. “From me to probably like the 22nd runner there was like a 10-second difference, so I was really just more concerned about them not catching me, but when I finished I was exhausted. I was more relieved.”
Himmelmann said, “This particular type of course, he had to get out fast, but then he had to dial it back in the middle to save [energy] for some hills along the third mile of the course, and he had to make sure he had some gas left in the tank.”
Klipstein had two teammates in the race, juniors Jack Goscinski and Matt Molnar. Goscinski finished 38th in a season-best 18:21.8 and Molnar was 73rd in 19:09.6.
Goscinski said his approach was “to get out fast and ahead of the pack at the end. I mostly wanted to stick with the people ahead of me and they were the ones that were pushing me.”
Mattituck junior Trevor Zappulla was 41st in the boys Class C race in 18:04.7. Also running for the Tuckers were freshman Colin Fitzgerald (100th in 19:36.5), freshman Matt Rosato (120th in 21:03.9) and junior Marc Zappulla (128th in 22:36.4).
The boys Class D race was the seventh of eight races on the day, and by then it had started raining and the temperature was falling. Still, the conditions weren’t nearly as bad as they had been at past state meets. Mid-November weather in upstate New York isn’t exactly pleasant.
Klipstein and Goscinski both ran in the 2019 state meet in the ice and snow at SUNY/Plattsburgh, as did Trevor Zappulla. Although the courses and conditions were different, that experience undoubtedly helped this time around.
Himmelmann, in his 12th year coaching the team, said: “I think it’s definitely an experience for them to run with the best of the best, and I think back when I first started coaching, you know, I think a lot of times kids were not super competitive at those state meets. There was a sort of like [a] lucky-to-be-there [attitude], and now it’s kind of transitioning into we’re not just happy to be there, we want to compete.”
“I have to say, it’s probably been my proudest year of coaching,” he continued, “and I’ve coached some really wonderful athletes throughout the years, but there was something special about this year’s group of kids and I’m already looking forward to next August. I think the best is yet to come.”
LYNCH’S ‘BEST RACE YET’
Francesca Lynch knows full well that the running conditions for state meets can be horrendous sometimes because of the weather, having experienced it firsthand two years ago in Plattsburgh. On Saturday, though, there was no snow and it was a lot warmer than her first state-meet experience. The result: “My best race yet.”
Lynch ran her fastest five-kilometer time ever, 21:50.5, bringing the Southold junior 33rd place in the girls Class D race.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I always like running with the best © It gives me a chance to push myself.”
Three Mattituck girls competed in Class C. Ava Vaccarella was 37th in 21:01.8, Emily Nicholson was 93rd in 22:40.8 and Ruby Villani was 95th in 22:50.1.