Both the Pierson boys and girls cross country programs are holding their own in what have been competitive League VIII dual meets this season.
With the leagues returning to what they were prior to the pandemic, the Whalers now have to contend again with schools such as Babylon, Center Moriches, Mattituck and Port Jefferson. But they’ve been taking those matchups head on, and in some cases, winning.
The boys, for instance, are coming off an 18-44 victory over Babylon at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park on October 5. The victory improved the team to 3-1 and tied for first place. P.J. Ramundo, as he has all season, led the Whalers, winning the race in 14:49. Head coach Joe Amato said the entire team gave a great effort and it was a chance for the first-year runners to get their first experience with historic “Cardiac Hill” at Sunken Meadow and they all fared pretty well.
The boys have also had a bit of an historical season already. Back on September 28, they defeated Port Jefferson, 27-29, on their home course at Mashashimuet Park, marking the first time they’ve beaten the Royals since 1999, according to Amato.
More history was made on Saturday at the Manhattan College Cross Country Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park. After being paid a visit by recent Pierson grad Ben McErlean, who now runs at Manhattan, both P.J. Ramundo and Coleman Dee medaled in what was a competitive varsity ‘C’ race. Ramundo placed 30th out of 130 runners in 14:34, while Dee finished 70th in 15:49. Justin Gardiner (9th/15:28), Chad Federico (26th/16:48) and Lance Schroeder (48th/18:28) all medaled in the 2.5-mile sophomore race, and Mike Ramundo (8th/6:59) and David Kriegsman (50th/7:51) both medaled in the 1.25-mile freshmen race.
According to Amato, both Gardner and Mike Ramundo finished with the highest placements in team history in their respective races, and the team set an overall program record for the number of medals won at the prestigious race.
Pierson had a tri-meet on Tuesday against Shelter Island and Mattituck. If all goes well in that meet, the Whalers will be set up for an important regular season finale against Southold on October 20 at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead, which could decide the league title. At the very least, the Whalers will get to see where they stand against a good Settlers squad that Amato said has returned six of their seven runners from last season. With Port Jeff dropping down to a D school this season, the Royals, Settlers and Whalers are all in the mix for the D county title, which won’t be run until November 5. The Division IV race will be run October 26 at Sunken Meadow.
The Pierson girls are 2-2 with victories over Ross and Port Jeff and losses to Babylon and Center Moriches. With Abby Sherwood nursing an injury over the past few weeks, the team has been led by a pair of eighth-graders in Sara O’Brien and Sabrina McManus, who took the top two placements for the team in the varsity ‘E’ race at the Manhattan Invitational. O’Brien finished 50th out of 126 runners in 18:30.50, while McManus finished 96th in 21:13.20. Sophomore Hannah Ramundo and Sherwood, who returned from her injury, finished right behind McManus, respectively.
The girls have their Division IV race on October 26 as well, but as head coach Jim Kinnier noted, it won’t mean much for them other than getting another chance to run at Sunken Meadow. The girls will look to defend their county title at the county meet on November 5.