On a cool fall day, the Huntington High School girls’ cross country team heated up the 2.8 mile race course at Sunken Meadow State Park.
The Blue Devils won the Suffolk championship is the sophomore race, bringing home a large trophy along with individual medals and putting a big smile on the face of head coach Beth Vogelsang.
The Suffolk Frosh/Soph Championships drew most of the county’s best young runners. There were separate races for freshman and sophomores. The cool seasonal temperature helped the Blue Devils notch personal best times all the way around.
Huntington’s seven runner strong team in the race included sophomores Valerie Rogel, Ella Siepel, Kaylee Dammers, Adamaris Ventura, Taylor Case and Briana Isaza and freshman, Erin Ye, who chose to run with the older athletes.
The Blue Devils outdistanced teams from Middle Country, Comsewogue, West Babylon, Longwood, Smithtown, Harborfields, Lindenhurst and Hauppauge. (Many other schools had runners in the race, but they didn’t have enough entries to qualify for a team score.)
Rogel once again led Huntington, finished fourth in a field of 79 runners in a time of 18:11.55 for a pace of 6:29.9 per mile.
“I was absolutely thrilled to see our team perform so well in the sophomore race,” Rogel said. “Winning the sophomore title was a great way end our last 2.8 mile race of the season. It truly paid off seeing all members of our team set personal records. I’m thankful for the opportunity to race with such strong runners. The team dynamic is always one of unity and positivity. I give so much credit to Coach Vogelsang because I feel that her suggestions for the race helped push me to achieve my best time of the season.”
Siepel turned in another great effort, finishing seventh in a time of 18:39.54. “Friday’s championship was an amazing race for everyone on the team,” she said. “It was exciting and inspiring to see every single girl who ran set a personal record. We were all incredibly surprised and thrilled to end up placing first overall in the sophomore race. I personally ran a great race, setting a new personal record by 27 seconds. Overall, the race was an amazing finish to the season for many girls. I’m so excited for state qualifier on Friday.”
Dammers was at her best, placing 17th in the strong field in a time of 20:10.04. “This year’s sophomore race was a big improvement for me and the rest of my teammates,” the teenager said. “Everybody did great! I got a personal record I’m so proud of myself and my teammates.”
Ventura also ran well, finishing 28th in 21:13.16. “I’m so happy that I joined cross country this year, especially because we have the best coach,” she said. “I got the opportunity to be one of the top seven runners. I’ve have improved so much with the help of my coach. I can’t wait for the rest of the years to come.”
Ye, Case and Isaza all ran well enough to clinch the team’s first place finish atop the sophomore race standings. All seven runners notched personal best times.
“These girls are great,” said Volgelsang about the sensational seven athletes. They are all so hyped to have a trophy, medals and shirts. They provide a light into the future for me.”
While the county freshman and sophomore championships were being contested, Vogelsang had her seniors complete a workout on Sunken Meadow’s hills. “When they were finished, the came over to cheer the underclassmen on,” the coach said.