Boys and girls cross country finding success in 2016: Vikings impress in Nassau Coaches’ Invitational held at Bethpage Park

Noah Sollinger, Contributing Writer

It was a beautiful day for a race on Saturday, Oct. 15, as the boys cross country team dominated the Nassau Coaches’ Invitational at Bethpage State Park. The five kilometer race was run throughout Bethpage Park and finished on the polo field.

In order to earn a varsity letter, each runner must complete the race in under twenty minutes, while a time of eighteen minutes or fewer earns you all-county honors.  Although the course conditions were not perfect, the Vikings were able to pull through and take four of the five top spots in the junior and senior race.

Meanwhile, in the freshman race, Port had three runners in the top twenty-five, Brandon Mayers, Josh An, and Justin Hill.

“I was frustrated that I was six seconds away from a varsity letter, which was my goal for this season,” said Hill. “However, I was able to finish in the top 25 and got a medal. I believe I will be able to get one on Monday.”

Hill finished the race as the third-fastest freshman. Josh An was also turned in an impressive showing at the meet.

“I was satisfied with my result of 19 minutes and 42 seconds, which earned me the varsity letter for this season and a medal for being in the top twenty-five of the race,” said An.

In the sophomore race, Ben Goldstein earned a personal best time of 17 minutes and 43 seconds, making him all-county.  His time earned him the tenth fastest for sophomores in Nassau County.  The Vikings took much away from both of these underclassman races, as they proved that they have a bright future ahead with many young, talented runners.

Not only were the underclassmen represented on top of the leader board,  but the Vikings’ junior and senior runners also proved why they’re one of the top teams in the county.

“The junior and senior race was led by juniors Alexander Zsikla, Geovany Mendes, and Aaron Cottumaccio,” and senior Joey Levine. “They really had good races and they made all of us proud.”

Levine, along with Zsikla, Mendes, and Cottumaccio, all placed in the top five in the race.  All four runners ran below 18 minutes and 15 seconds, a remarkable accomplishment.

“The course was muddy, but I felt we had a good race,” said Cottumaccio. “It was my best time if the season.” Cottumaccio will hope to get a time under 18 minutes in one of the next few races so he can be all-county.

This team is full of excellent leaders, and it all starts with the seniors. Seniors Aaron Siff-Scherr, Rory Owens, Jordan Hurt, and Joey Levine have been the inspiration for the team, and they have all contributed much to the team’s overall success.

The Vikings have three runners who are in the top ten in Nassau County for the five kilometer race. Among these top performers, Siff-Scherr is ranked second with a personal best time of 16 minutes and 27 seconds.  Owens is ranked seventh with a personal best time of 16 minutes and 44 seconds, and Jordan Hurt ranked tenth with a personal best time of 16 minutes and 55 seconds.

After a much needed rest day the day after the invitational, the runners went back to Bethpage on Monday, October 17th for their fifth meet of the season. The course was dry and dusty for the race, as the Vikings continued their undefeated season by easily winning the varsity race. The victory clinching the Nassau County Conference I title for Port.

The meet was again controlled by the Vikings as they took the first nine spots of the Varsity race. The team was led by their top three performers including by  Levine, Siff-Scherr and Owens. All three achieved a time of under 17 minutes and 40 seconds in the five kilometer race.

In the top nine for the entire race, the Vikings were represented by four seniors, three juniors, and two sophomores. Every top finisher in this category crossed the finish line in under 18 minutes and 20 seconds.

In the junior varsity race, Schreiber was able to take ten of the top twenty-five spots led by incredible performances from junior Grant Bruno and sophomore Max Friedman.  Freshman Justin Hill finished in twenty-fourth place, turning in a time of 20 minutes and 9 seconds.  It was the eleventh-fastest freshman time on the day.

“Unfortunately, I fell nine seconds short of breaking twenty minutes which would have gotten me a varsity letter,” said Hill. “Luckily, on Oct. 29, we have counties, so I can get it then.”

The boys season is turning out the way they hoped it would, and likewise, the girls cross country team is also running their way to success.

The Viking girls ran a three mile track in Saratoga on Oct. 17, facing some tough competition.  They were still able to have six runners with times of twenty-five minutes or under.  The team was led by senior Maria Kogan and junior Lucy Hurt, who completed the course in under 19 minutes and 38 seconds.  Kogan placed eighth in the race.

The girls team also raced on Oct. 17 at Bethpage Park in their fifth meet of the season.  The team was able to get four runners in the top twenty-five of the junior varsity race, in addition to having the first place runner, freshman Sam Krayeski.  Krayeski ran the 5 kilometer course in 23 minutes and 44 seconds, her personal best. Her time ranks twenty-first in the county among freshmen.

“There were good conditions on Monday, and I was able to push myself and take first place,” said Krayeski. “I was trailing 3 other runners the whole race, but I was able to pass them in the final mile.”

Other runners in the top twenty-five of the race included freshman Caroline Pangbourne, sophomore Madeline Feigin, and junior Sage Gitlin. Port also dominated the varsity race, taking nine of the top fifteen spots in the race. Two of the top three spots belonged to the Vikings, as senior Maria Kogan and junior Lucy Hurt placed second and third, respectively.

Both girls ran under 22 minutes and 20 seconds, losing only to a runner from Oceanside. Port has two runners with top fifty times in Nassau County, with Kogan ranked third with a personal best time of 19 minutes and 3 seconds and Hurt ranked forty-sixth, with a personal best time of 21 minutes and 20 seconds.

Both Vikings distance teams look to continue their success at the Nassau County Class Championship race at Bethpage State Park on Oct. 29. With talented runners on both the girls and boys squads, Port looks to finish their season strong.