Pierson’s Penelope Greene Is All-State, Leads Lady Whalers Cross Country To Seventh Place Finish

Pierson junior Penelope Greene finished fifth in the girls Class D state race on Saturday. KEITH LOBDELL

After finishing the girls Class D race at the New York State Championships at SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday, Pierson junior Penelope Greene was having a hard time catching her breath. She had just ran arguably one of the toughest races of her career in some harsh conditions, finishing the nearly 3-mile race seventh overall, fourth in team placement scoring, in 18:09.9 to become All-State.

Her head coach, Jim Kinnier, ran over to her and asked his top runner if she was okay. She brushed it off like it was nothing.

“That just really illustrated to me what an incredibly tough athlete and runner she really is,” Kinnier said. “She’s the most determined runner I’ve ever had, and there’s no one even close. And that’s not to be derogatory to anyone we’ve had here, we’ve had good runners. She’s just on a different level in terms of her competitiveness.”

Greene, in her third trip to the state meet, led the Lady Whalers to a seventh-place finish out of nine teams in the Class D race. Kinnier, who has coached the team since it branched off from Shelter Island in 2003, said he thinks Greene’s individual placement, as well as the team’s placement, are tops in program history at a state meet. It’s quite possible Greene is the first girl in Pierson history to be All-State.

“We’ve never had anybody in the top 20 in school history, as far as I know,” he said. Penelope “has had a great foundation of running since over the summer. She ran six days a week, practically without exception. She just had a fantastic foundation for the season, but then it comes down to being mentally tough enough, and she certainly is.”

Greene, who started training back in June, said her wanting to be first in every race grew and really pushed her this season. Kinnier said Greene just missed qualifying for the New York State Federation Championships, which encompasses every runner in the state, from every class and private, public, Catholic and New York City runners, in one race, which ran this weekend.

“I was really happy with my time and my placement,” Greene said.

Sophomore Abby Sherwood finished the race 73rd overall, 36th in team placement, in 22:08.5. She was followed by eighth-grader Helena Kolhoff, who finished 90th (48th) in 23:54.9; eighth-grader Hannah Ramundo was 91st (49th) in 23:58.7; eighth-grader Ravenel Ellis was 106th (57th) in 28:32.5; and senior Daniella Schiff finished 109th (60th) in 31:43.3.

Kinner said he was formulating a strategy to defeat Lake Placid, which Pierson did, but was surprised that it finished one placement behind Haldane, which was a bit of a disappointment. But, overall, he was happy with how his runners competed.

“I was just very impressed with all of the girls. They had a great day,” Kinnier continued.

“For a first year runner, Abby just had a great year. I couldn’t be happier with her improvement throughout the entire year. She started out good and really progressed constantly throughout the whole season. Helena Kolhoff had a very strong race. Because the conditions were so terrible, this race was more about strength than speed, and she really had a terrific race. Hanna Ramundo finished behind Helena, which is unusual, but it could be due to the conditions. Ravenel and Daniella, they certainly did their best and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

McErlean Finishes Season

Pierson junior Ben McErlean, seeded 55th in the boys Class C race, finished 63rd in 16:34.6. He finished third behind fellow Section XI runners Grant Samara and Brian Veit of Port Jefferson.