Pierson’s Penelope Greene Wins Division V Girls Cross Country Race

Pierson senior Penelope Greene comes down the final stretch at Sunken Meadow all alone leading to an easy victory on Tuesday afternoon. DREW BUDD

Pierson senior Penelope Greene admitted she was a bit nervous coming into Tuesday afternoon’s Division V race since she hadn’t run at Sunken Meadow Park in so long.

One wouldn’t have been able to tell.

Greene came down the final stretch of the 2.5-mile race all alone and won the race handily, crossing the finish line in 15:47.23. She helped Pierson place third overall in Division V, which is made up of teams from both League IX and X.

It had been about a year and a half since most runners had taken to the trails at the state park nestled within the shores of Kings Park due to the pandemic. Greene said she was trailing Babylon freshman Kayla Hayes for much of the race before making her move after Cardiac Hill.

“After Snake Hill I stayed right behind her for like the majority of it, and coming up Cardiac I stayed right behind her,” she explained. Greene figured, “if I have her in front of me for these hills, it’ll propel me to go up faster instead of after so then I can pass her and then I did after the hill on that steady decline.”

Pierson head coach Jim Kinnier couldn’t say enough about his runner who recently committed to furthering her education and running career at SUNY Geneseo in the fall.

Penelope Greene DREW BUDD

“Penelope has a special future,” he said. “I’ve coached 36 years, never had anyone like her. Every time she gets to a competition where there’s someone to race with she meets the challenge, and like today, surpasses it. I keep telling her that there’s literally nobody in this county — I’m not saying she’s the best — but there’s nobody that she can’t compete with. Not a single person.”

Kinnier was also encouraged with how freshman Hannah Ramundo ran on Tuesday. She finished in 20:33 which placed her 16th overall. Kinnier said that Ramundo’s time was an improvement over her last race a few weeks ago at East Hampton.

Pierson’s three dual-sport athletes in senior Brooke Esposito, freshman Eva McKelvey and sophomore Grace Flanagan all had key races for the Whalers as well, but more importantly, they all came out of it unscathed. Esposito and McKelvey both had a field hockey game in East Hampton to get to directly following the meet, and Flanagan a volleyball match in Southampton.

“I told them to hold back today,” Kinnier said of his three athletes. “Today is really Penelope’s day, as an individual. We’re going to race against Southold [at counties] and that’s going to be an important one. And that’s going to be our last race for all of the girls to put out their best. But for what they did today, with what they have yet to do today, I couldn’t have asked for more. They’re all going to be able to compete later and do great so I’m very happy. Thrilled.”

Pierson’s final meet of the season — since there are no state meets this year due to the pandemic — will be at the Section XI Championships, back at Sunken Meadow, next Thursday, April 22, where Greene and the Whalers will be eyeing a Class D title. The gun is expected to go off at 4:45 p.m.

McErlean Places Fourth In Boy’s Race

Pierson senior Ben McErlean set a goal to win the boys’ Division V race, which was also ran at Sunken Meadow on Tuesday, directly following the girls’ race, but he settled for fourth place, crossing the finish line in 13:44.45.

Port Jefferson seniors Brian Veit and Grant Samara finished first and second, respectively, in 13:09.01 and 13:25. Shelter Island senior Jason Green finished third in 13:30.56.

McErlean said he felt good physically and mentally going into the race. Things simply didn’t go as planned.

Pierson senior Ben McErlean finished fourth in the Division V race on Tuesday. DREW BUDD

“Sometimes when you feel good to go races just don’t go the way you planned,” he said. “I’m not going to be bold and say I’m ready to win it next week. I really want to win the race for the team cause it would be great to win the Class D title next week. It’s been a goal all season. Just gotta use it as motivation and just move forward.

“Fourth place isn’t terrible,” he added. “It’s a good division. It is what it is really. I’m just going to save it all for next week.”

Pierson placed third overall as a team. Junior P.J. Ramundo was the next Whaler in after McErlean, finishing in 14:27.13, good enough for sixth place. Senior Tom Schiavoni (14:48.06) placed ninth, freshman Justin Gardiner finished 29th (17:34.59), and sophomore Coleman Dee (18:11.37), freshman Chad Federico (18:19.58) and senior Truman Yardley (18:34.38), all crossed the finish line one after the other.

The Whalers will be racing in next week’s county championship race against Shelter Island and Southold. The boys Class D race is Wednesday, April 21, back at Sunken Meadow and is expected to begin at 4:45 p.m.