The Huntington girls’ cross country team is a resilient group. The Blue Devils overcame the absence of their top runner and went on to turn back a challenge from Walt Whitman, North Babylon and Lindenhurst in a multi-team meet this week at Sunken Meadow State Park.
Keilly Rivas felt a muscle tighten up while stretching, so Huntington head coach Beth Vogelsang felt it best to sit the teenager out from the meet. Not to worry; the remaining Blue Devils runners took up any slack that may have existed and turned in many impressive performances.
Blue Devil captains Nicole Arenth,
Alliy McKenzie and Hadley Clayton.
Erika Varady, Sophie Dellecave and Bridgette Starr were also sidelined, but Vogelsang had plenty of athletic firepower remaining. The coach is in her first year with the team and the athletes have taken to the high school physical education teacher.
On Sunken Meadow’s 2.8 mile course, the Blue Devils shined. Hadley Clayton (18:56), Valerie Rogel (19:11), Alliy McKenzie (19:21), Christina Nigro (20:14), Ella Siepel (21:16), Katie Burton (21:31), Yasmin Khilji-Neal (22:17), Kaylee Dammers (22:23), Colette Barron (22:48), Diya Rai-Gersappe (24:56) and Nicole Arenth (25:02) paced Huntington.
“We had a strong team,” Vogelsang said. Arenth, McKenzie and Clayton captain the squad and the three have been leading their teammates by example.
“It’s really great to see the team coming together so well,” said Clayton after this week’s multi-team meet. “It was our first win and there were lots of personal records all around! Valerie Rogel, Christina Nigro, Katy Burton, Yasmin Kilji-Neal, Kaylee Dammers, Nicole Arenth and Diya Rai-Gersappe all beat their previous times on the course. Captain Alliy Mckenzie and Ella Siepel, and Colette Barron are all coming off being sick, but still pushed it to the limit! We also had a very enthusiastic cheering section of all our injured runners. I can’t wait to see how we do on Friday at the Saint Anthony’s Invitational.”
Huntington is hoping to peak as the season nears the championship stage. “The team is really progressing and is truly motivated for the upcoming meets,” McKenzie said. “As divisions creeps closer we hope to be stronger than ever and rise to the occasion.”