The Huntington High School girls’ cross country team is off and running. The Blue Devils have battled through a series of blistering hot days and many rainy afternoons, but the squad is starting to hit its stride.
Coached by physical education teacher Beth Vogelsang, the team includes some of the most energetic athletes in the high school. The roster includes freshman Erin Ye, sophomore Taylor Case, Kaylee Dammers, Brianna Isaza, Valerie Rogel, Ella Siepel and Adamaris Ventura Sanchez, junior Diya Rai-Gersappe and seniors Ashanna Archibald, Colette Barron, Hadley Clayton, Keily Rivas and Erika Varady.
At last weekend’s Jim Smith Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park, Huntington’s Valerie Rogel finished 13th in a field of 162 runners in the sophomore 5K run. Rogel posted an excellent time of 22:17.39. Teammate Ella Siepel placed 17th in 23:08.66.
“Over the course of this season, I’ve noticed that both my speed and endurance have improved,” Rogel said. “I credit this to my summer training both individually and at The Running School. This really paid off on Saturday as I saw a huge improvement in my time and placing thirteenth was incredibly rewarding. Perhaps the biggest motivation for me was my teammates cheering me on. I am grateful to have them by my side at every race.”
Hadley Clayton finished ninth in a field of 119 runners in the senior 5K run. Clayton’s buzzed around the 3.1 mile course in 22:40.05. Erika Varady placed a very respectable 45th in 26:01.29.
The Blue Devils will be competing in a series of multi-school meets and invitational competitions over the next month. Vogelsang is looking for every runner on the team to notch personal best times.
Clayton is Huntington’s team captain. “She’s done a great job bringing a sense of optimism to the team,” Rogel said. Vogelsang appointed Varady, Rivas and Barron as the Blue Devils’ co-captains.
“This season is looking very promising,” Clayton said. “Our first meet went extremely well, with personal bests from several team members and many others starting off on a good note. Valerie Rogel and Ella Siepel were especially impressive, crushing their times from last season. Freshman Erin Ye ran great in the freshman 1.5 mile race. New to the team, Adamaris Ventura, Taylor Case, Ashanna Archibald and Brianna Isaza were quick to impress on the race course, starting their seasons off with a bang. Other great races came from Diya Rai-Gersappe, Erika Varady, Kaylee Dammers and Colette Barron to round out the team. I personally felt it was a great beginning, with lots of room to grow. We have been training very hard and it’s definitely showing.”