The Huntington varsity boys’ cross country team is planning ahead for next fall after finishing the season with a 3-3 mark under first year head coach John Romano.
Huntington was led by Matthew Armstrong and Ian Rotunno. Armstrong garnered All-League, All-Division and second team All-County honors. Rotunno captured second team All-League recognition.
“Matthew Armstrong is one of those athletes you get once every 10 years, if you’re lucky,” Romano said. “His ability to motivate his team and himself is one of the best I’ve seen in my 15 years of coaching. He’s a true leader on and off the course. Coaches on other teams rave about the type of person Matthew is and as a first year coach, that’s the best feeling in the world to hear other coaches speak so highly of one of your athletes. Watching Matthew run is a great sight, the form and technique is just flawless. It looks like he’s putting no effort into running. His running ability has landed him as one of the best runners in all of Suffolk County. He’s going to have a successful collegiate career wherever he ends up.”
The roster also included Ethan Goleski, John Joyce IV, Michael Mendikyan, Tyler Peck, Justin Perez Castillo and Nicholas Seitz.
Rotunno enjoyed a fine season. “Ian’s work ethic improved drastically throughout the year once he realized his capability,” Romano said. “Ian is a great kid who comes off quiet, but has a great personality and work ethic. His teammates flock to him as he always puts the team first over his individual needs.”
Huntington improved over the course of the season. “Over a one week span from the Jim Pratt Invitational (Sept. 10) to the Bob Smith Invitational (Sept. 17), as a team we saw every single runner improve their times by 45-60 seconds,” Romano said. “This was a huge jump in times and a testament to the work they put in over that week to improve their times.”
The Six Flags Invitational in New Jersey “was another great accomplishments with times being improved,” Romano said. “The day was a great memory for team.”
The Blue Devils missed advancing to the qualifier for the state team championships by 3.2 seconds. “In August, we never thought it would be possible to be this close to qualifying,” Romano said. “We all knew Matthew would qualify individually, but we never expected to be that close to qualifying as a team. This showed the work we put in as a team to believe in ourselves and buy into what our plan was to improve our times.”
The squad of runners developed nicely. “As a first year cross country coach, I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” Romano said. “The competitive level was off the charts and the team morale was excellent. These guys worked together when times were tough and they pushed each other to improve their times every single day.”
Goleski, Mendikyan and Joyce will go into next year as the team’s top runners. “Overall, we are just looking to add more runners to help build the program,” Romano said.