The following report was filed by Coach Pete McNeill of the Sachem School District.
The Sachem East Girls Cross Country team began the season in fine fashion with a 15 to 50 shutout of Lindenhurst in the League 1 opener for both teams at the 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) course at Belmont Lake State Park on Tuesday.
Team scores are tallied by adding the finishing place of each team's top 5 finishers, with only the top 7 from each team considered in the place ranking. A shutout in Cross Country occurs when one team places it's 7 "scoring" runners in front of the oppositions first runner, thus enabling that team to take places 1 through 5 (for a total of 15 points), while the other team is credited for places 8-12 (for a total of 50 points). Of course, low score wins.
In the case of the win over Lindenhurst, Sachem East actually took the first 8 places and placed 15 runners in the top 20. Shannon O'Hehir, Kaitlin DeMartino, and Jayda Allen finished together in just over 20 minutes with Nicole Silvestre just behind. Katie Hempfling and Holly Lindoe finished together about a minute behind the first group, followed closely by Brenna McGuire and Ciara Murphy.
Lindy's first runner grabbed 9th place with Ali Figalora and Sarah LaPorta right on her heels. In a demonstration of team depth, Frosh Karli Murphy, Barbi Lam and Jillian Manfredi, and Soph's Courtney Evola and Jen Campbell also were ahead of Lindy's 4th and 5th scorers.
So, just how good is this 2012 Sachem East Girls Cross Country team? Remember, last year's team placed 8th in the New York State Federation Championships and sent a number of girls to strong college programs up and down the east coast. Danielle Vasquez (SUNY Buffalo), Amanda Catherall (Seton Hall), Melanie Notarstefano (Fordham), Sam Maurice (St Joseph) and Rachel Paul (Georgetown), are already making their mark on the College circuit and will surely be missed. But with returning All-State Harrier Shannon O'Hehir leading the charge, this constantly improving group has again taken aim on winning a County title and returning to the State Meet.
A tall order perhaps, with the likes of Bayshore and Northport to deal with, not to mention the solid squads of Connetquot, Sachem North, and Ward Melville. But based on the performances in this season opener, with big time improvements from last year's meet at Belmont Park, the 2012 team is justified in setting some lofty goals.
There's nothing like a solid summer of training to set the stage for an exciting season of Cross Country racing. This group has done the background work and is training with a purpose. The season promises to be very exciting.
Key meets for the team will be the Section 1 Coaches Invitational in Wappingers Falls on Sept 22nd, the Manhattan College Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park on October 13th, and the Brown University Invitational on Oct 20th. And of course, the home dual meets with Sachem North (Sept 25) and Northport (Oct 9) will be very competitive and exciting.
Next up is the annual RGBW intrasquad scrimmage to be held at East this Saturday. This annual tradition of racing the mile and a half "freshman" course can be just as entertaining as it is competitive. Face painting, team chants, creative uniforms, and "head games" are the order of the day as the Red, Gold, Black, White, and "Rainbow" squads vie to not only win the team race, but take home the coveted "most spirited" title. Start time is 9 a.m.