With nearly the entire cast of top runners returning next fall, the Huntington High School boys’ cross country team appears well positioned to break into Suffolk’s elite circle.
While the Blue Devils struggled the past season, whatever difficulties were encountered can easily be attributed to most of the team’s leading runners being either freshmen or sophomores. With a year of experience under their collective belt, those same athletes seem well on their way to spectacular careers wearing the blue and white.
“This was a learning season,” said Bob Nill, the team’s first year coach. “We are trying to build a strong team for upcoming seasons. Our top six runners are either ninth or tenth graders.”
Huntington was forced to compete without talented freshman Andrew McKenzie, who was sidelined by the injury for the entire season. He was projected to be among the team’s three best runners.
The Blue Devils’ top runners included freshmen Aidan Heller, Isaiah James and Carlos Martinez, sophomores Jason Verville and John Segreti, junior Graham Young and senior Ryan Smith.
“Jason was consistently our best runner throughout the season,” Nill said. “Aidan was a close second. He improved each meet. John and Graham were our No. 3 and No. 4 runners. Isaiah and Carlos showed great improvement as the season progressed.”
This was definitely a growing season for Huntington. “The early meets were very difficult due to the overall lack of experience by our varsity team,” Nill said. “As the season progressed, the performances greatly improved. The last two meets of the season, the divisions and the frosh-soph meet, virtually everyone had personal best times. What a great way to conclude the season.”
Nill is clearly looking forward to next season and the seasons that will follow. “This is a team that tries to learn every time it competes,” he said. “Our goal is to win the league championship by 2019. With the returning athletes, this is a realistic goal.”