Ben McErlean’s first foray into indoor track is going pretty well for the Pierson junior.
Donning Bonacker maroon while competing for the combined East Hampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton team, McErlean, a three-time All-State cross country runner, decided this winter would be his first time taking a crack at running indoors. It was a bit odd and different at first, McErlean said, but as the season has worn on he’s embraced it more and more.
“I’m a Bonacker. Definitely different, but at least the color looks good on me,” he joked after placing third in the 1,000-meter race in 2:47.25 at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. “I’m really happy and surprised I’m doing winter track. The first week or two I was like, what is this? Running outside in 30-degree weather. But now we have a great chemistry going on. It’s becoming a really tight family. We all embrace each other, no one talks down on anyone. They’re all really good kids.”
After placing third in the 1,000, in which sophomore teammate Amari Gordon placed sixth in 2:55.99, McErlean won the 1,600-meter race in 4:56.99 in what was the final crossover meet of the season for the boys, with invitationals and then postseason meets to ramp up this month.
McErlean has hit a bit of a wall in the 1,000, he said. He’s gotten 10 seconds faster than this in first race of the season, but since then his past three races have all been around 2:47. An illness last week slowed his training down a bit, McErlean said, but he’s looking to break through in the 1,000 soon.
“I know I’m not limited to that time,” he said. “I know it’s simple to run faster than that time, it’s just if you’re willing enough to hurt for it. I didn’t know what to expect from me today. I thought I was going to run really slow. This is my first race since December 22. I haven’t done any real hard training the past week because I’ve been sick so I’m honestly happy with the result. Third place is a podium finish and 2:47 is still a good time, especially after being sick.
“Track has really been helping me learn a lot, both mentally and physically, because it’s like a whole faster speed but shorter distance, so you have to learn how to push yourself more, so it’s good,” he added.
East Hampton junior Luc Campbell finished the 55-meter hurdles in 11.87 seconds on Saturday but his season’s best in the event is a much faster 8.45 seconds, which had him ranked 21st in the county, as of Monday.
The Freshman/Sophomore Championships are this Saturday and the League IV Championships are January 17 at 7:30 p.m. All meets are at Suffolk-Brentwood.
The East Hampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton girls indoor track team had a very busy holiday break. After competing in the St. Anthony’s Developmental Invitational on December 27, the Lady Bonackers traveled to Staten Island for the Ocean Breeze Holiday Festival on December 30. Then on Sunday the girls had their final crossover at Suffolk-Brentwood.
Pierson junior Penelope Greene has carried over her strong cross country season into the indoor season. She reset her school record in the 1-mile race at St. Anthony’s to 5:40.19, which placed her fifth overall. She then set a new school record in the 2-mile at the Ocean Breeze Festival, finishing the race in 11:38.78, surpassing Ava Engstrom’s record set last year. Greene also placed third overall in the 3,000-meter race in 12:07.16 in what was her first crack at that distance this season. Engstrom finished right behind her at 12:07.25. Greene also has a season’s best time of 5:02.02 in the 1,500-meter race, which ranks her 17th in the county.
Megan “Mimi” Fowkes placed fourth in a season’s best 8:47.31 in the 1,500-meter race walk at Ocean Breeze. Bella Espinoza, in just her second vault of the season, reached 8 feet in the pole vault, also at Ocean Breeze.
Espinoza, Engstrom, Greene and Lillie Minskoff competed in the 4×400-meter relay for the first time this season at Sunday’s crossover. They finished in 4:36.40, about two seconds off from the school record set in 2016 by Devon Brown, Ana Toledo, Alexa Berti and Elizabeth Bistrian.
The Lady Bonackers will be competing in the Zeitler Relays this Friday and the Jim Howard Invitational on Sunday. The girls’ League IV Championships are January 17 at 5 p.m.