The race isn’t even half over yet, but the Huntington High School boys’ cross country team is off to an impressive start. The Blue Devils have won three-of-four meets and appear well-positioned to turn in one of the program’s best seasons in decades.
Huntington toppled East Islip on Tuesday, 38-43. (The team with the low score wins in cross country.) The Blue Devils had earlier defeated Half Hollow Hills West (27-30) and West Babylon (19-37). The team’s only blemish this fall is an 18-43 loss to Kings Park.
The league record of 3-1 is Huntington’s best in nearly 20 years, according to head coach Shawn Anderson. “Our team is a young team, but it has some depth and some heart and it showed today,” the coach said after Tuesday’s meet.
Senior Shane McGuire led the Blue Devils against a determined East Islip squad. While the teenager hasn’t found his best stride yet, he has shown steady improvement this season.
McGuire turned in a time of 16:20 on Sunken Meadow State Park’s 2.8 mile course. Dan Collins came close to notching a new personal best, breezing through the race in 16:36. Freshman Brendan Roller, who has been consistently reducing his times, covered the Sunken Meadow course in 16:38. “He’s a student of the sport and was on the heels of Collins,” Anderson said/
Freshmen Jason Verville (17:59) and John Segreti (18:13) showed why they have been among Huntington’s top five runners all season as both displayed glimpses of their potential in the sport.
“Together the team scored 28 points, which tied East Islip,” Anderson said. “Runners six and seven are used as tie breakers. For us, that came from an unsung hero in sophomore Danny Thompson. Danny had never broken 20 minutes and during the middle mile he yelled to me ‘Coach, today I am going to PR!’ I half believed him because he was so far ahead of where he normally is, but then I thought maybe he went out to0 fast.”
Anderson had no need to worry as Thompson dropped his previous best time by two minutes to 18:29 for sixth place. “He was super ecstatic after his run and it showed on his face,” the coach said. “He was even more ecstatic when I told him and the team that because he ran so hard he accounted for 10 points and that put us on top of East Islip for the win 38-43.”
As the team’s top runner, McGuire is striving to improve personally while also serving as the Blue Devils’ leader. The teenager is a marvelous athlete, running one of the legs on Huntington’s 4x400m relay that won national championships during both the winter and spring seasons last year.
“Being one of the few seniors on a team of mostly freshman and having a 3-1 record, which is one of Huntington’s best starts in years is a great way to begin the season,” McGuire said. “I’m not where I want to be personally yet time wise, but I know I’ll get there by the end of the season. I’m happy seeing the younger kids making strides and improving. It makes the future look bright for Huntington.”
The Blue Devils will compete in several invitational and crossover meets before taking on Deer Park and Bellport in the final league meets on October 18.