By Gavin Menu
The Shelter Island Indians took Mashashimuet Park by storm Tuesday afternoon. Running under ominous skies and through thick tropical air, the Pierson boys and girls cross county teams came out on the losing end of a lively race between local rivals.
The defending League VIII and Suffolk County Class D champion Lady Whalers lost their first league meet in over two years, falling 22-33 to a vastly improved, and still very young, group of Lady Indians.
Pierson’s Hannah Jungck, who raced undefeated through the league season as an individual last year, fell to third place on Tuesday behind sisters Lindsey and Emma Gallagher, who finished the 3-mile course at Mashashimuet Park in 19:54 and 20:40, respectively.
Jungck, who won last year’s race against Shelter Island in 19:39, felt the affects of the conditions on Tuesday and finished in 20:45.
“It was really muggy, and the whole time we thought it was going to rain,” said Jungck, who is also an accomplished track athlete. “And they’ve gotten much stronger.”
A steady mist arrived at the start of the boys race, which Shelter Island won handedly, but stopped as the girls stepped to the line in front of one of the larger cross country crowds in recent memory. The next time Pierson and Shelter Island face off will be in the divisional meet on October 27, but more importantly they will see each other in the Suffolk County Championship at Sunken Meadow State Park on November 6, where they will compete for the Class D crown.
“They’ve improved dramatically and earned their victory today,” Pierson girls coach Jim Kinnier said about the Lady Indians. “In the division and county meet, we’ll see them again. We did have two girls missing tonight. Paola Zeas was missing, and Courtney Kinsella, who is hurt and could be out for the season.”
Shelter Island’s Kaitlin Binder finished fourth in 21:19, while Caroline Jungck, Hannah’s sister, finished fifth in 22:20. Phoebe Miller also earned points for the Lady Whalers by finishing sixth in 22:44.
The Pierson boys were paced by Jack Schleicher’s fifth place finish in 19:20 and Angelo Toscano’s sixth place finish in 19:24. Shelter Island placed the top four runners in the boys race, with eighth-grade phenom Cal Lewis running away to win in 17:07.
“I have 22 guys on the team this year,” boys coach Doug Alnwick said afterward with a proud smile on his face. “Winning is nice, but it’s far from everything. These Shelter Island guys run six days a week, year-round. My guys like to run and I’m trying to instill that Zen of running in them. It’s something they can take with them for life.”
Both teams will close out their league schedules with a race at Sunken Meadow against Stony Brook on Wednesday, October 7, at 4:30 p.m.