By Andrew Rudansky
A lot of things have changed this year for the boys’ varsity cross country team at Pierson. The team has recently been redistricted from Class C into Class D in a section-wide realignment, they just finished building a brand new home track at Mashashimuet Park and now, for the first time in years, students from Bridgehampton School have joined the team.
But for everything that is new with the team, it is what hasn’t changed that gives the Whalers the best shot in years to capture the Suffolk County Championships — and that’s the core of their roster.
For the first time Coach Doug Alnwick can remember the majority of the varsity squad are seniors, and many of them have run all four years of high school.
“If we are going to win it all, then this is going to be the year to do it,” said Alnwick.
He said that the size, dedication and maturity of his seniors give his team a competitive edge against younger squads around the league.
The seven seniors that Alnwick thinks can propel this team to the top of Class D are Chris Beroes-Haigis, Paul Dorego, Jeremy Pepper, Peter Skerys, Dan Hartner, Garrett Severance and Emet Evjen. Rounding out the rest of the 12-man roster are junior Adam Heller, sophomores Max Yardley, Tiger Britt, Henry Kotz and freshman Robert Rewinski.
“We definitely have a solid team this year, their race times are much better than they were just last year,” said Alnwick. Last year’s team went 3-3 in league competition.
In preparation for the season Alnwick has taken the team out on six, seven and 10 mile runs almost every day around Sag Harbor. Alnwick especially works with the team on what he calls Long Slow Distance; a method that he says increases physical endurance and gets the team used to the mental rigors of continued running.
“My philosophy for the kids is to push them hard but not to burn them out,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to get these kids to love running.”
The team has already run in two league races, both of those ended in a loss for the Whalers. However both of the winning schools, Port Jefferson and Center Moriches, were in a different class than Pierson and the losses won’t adversely affect their shot at the Class D championships.
The Whalers’ first in-class race was held on Tuesday, October 4 against both Mattituck and Southold. The results of that race have yet to be released.
“All I ask of them is that when they cross the finish line they ask themselves, ‘Could I have done better,’” said Alnwick.
The Whalers next travel to Sunken Meadow State Park to take on the Stony Brook Bears on Tuesday, October 11.