The Huntington boys’ cross country team turned in a series of impressive performances at the Suffolk Coaches Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park.
The Blue Devil freshmen corps consisting of Aidan Heller (8th place; 8:25.19), Isaiah James (18th; 8:43.47), David Marroquin-Lopez (55th; 9:40.19), Seamus Hannon (87th; 10:32.38) and Matt Fallon (126th; 13:04.08) finished tenth in the team standings in the 1.47 mile race. Heller and James captured medals. James, Hannon and Fallon all notched personal best times.
“We had a good meet, especially considering the unusually hot weather,” head coach Robert Nill said.
Heller is quickly becoming one of Suffolk’s best and opposing runners and coaches are taking notice. “The meet was pretty good,” he said. “Our sophomores had a stellar performance.”
James is one of Huntington’s most talented runners, but he’s very hard on himself. The teenager always sees room for improvement and that was once again the case following the Suffolk Invitational.
“The team did a decent job,” James said. “We are all finding our stride. I am personally still coming along. I’m recovering from shin splints and nerves sometimes get the better of me. Aidan did a good job. I believe we’re all getting stronger and under Coach Nill’s guidance we can have a stellar year.”
Nill likes what he sees in James. “He has a tremendous amount of natural talent,” the coach said.
The Blue Devil sophomore running contingent of Jason Verville (7th place; 19:34.13), John Segreti (24th; 20:38.79); Robert Caputi (73rd; 22:33.03), Rory Dara (88th; 22:55.23) and Gabriel Medina-Jaudes (104th; 23:58.38) placed tenth in the sophomore team standings in a race that drew 145 runners. Verville and Segreti earned medals for their fine showing in the 5K race.
Verville, Segreti, Dara and Medina-Jaudes all recorded career best times. “Rory had a 2:49 personal best improvement,” Nill said. “Gabe had a 51 second personal best.”
Verville was clearly pleased with his performance on the challenging Sunken Meadow course. “Saturday was great,” the teenager said. “Most of the team ran personal records as well. The rest of the year should be good as we should compete and keep reaching new PRs. I hope to break 19 minutes by the end of the year, as well.”
The varsity race was cancelled due to excessive heat. Graham Young, Dan Thompson, Nicolas Sanin and Joseph Dammers were all scheduled to run.
The Blue Devils are still not at full strength as freshman Andrew McKenzie continues to recover from an injury. He was 7-0 last fall on the J. Taylor Finley Middle School team.
“We have a new outstanding runner on our team though,” Heller said. “Carlos Martinez is only a little more than a week into practice, but he is already a top runner on our team. Carlos is a freshman so he will help us to hopefully win the Section XI Frosh Championships We also have Ryan Smith running again so that is good.”
Nill was very pleased with how the Blue Devils performed overall. “The times were impressive considering how hot it was,” he said. “We are developing a very nice young core. The team is mostly ninth and tenth graders who show promising signs of being good.”