Friday, 22 January 2010 00:00
The Mineola High School girls cross country team won the conference championship this past October, the first championship for the program in 35 years.
The boys team won the conference in 1974 and the 35 years without a championship for the program served as great motivation for the girls. They went through the season undefeated in their division, being crowned the division champion.
In league meet competition, they finished the season with a 13-1 record, losing only to powerhouse Friends Academy, led by the third ranked girl in New York State.
Going into the Conference Championships, Mineola had their work cut out for them. Led by seniors Caitlin Breen and Erika DaCosta, the girls were determined to defeat the 10-time defending champions, Friends Academy. With Breen and DaCosta both finishing in the top 10, the day was off to a great start.
Junior Cindy Gabbay, freshman Katie Cappeller and junior Jessica Shi all finished in the top 23 to secure the win. Seniors Michelle Martins and Kristina Cotroneo were sure to place in the top 50 as insurance in case the meet went to a tie-breaker. Their inspired performances were enough to defeat Friends Academy by 24 points.
All seven girls ran extremely well to earn the title of Conference Champions. Breen and DaCosta earned All-Conference Honors for their top 10 finish. They, along with Cindy Gabbay were also voted to All-Division by the Nassau County coaches for their performances throughout the season.
The following weekend at the County Championships, the girl’s team once again had their best finish in program history. The girl’s team was the Class County B runners-up. They finished second to nationally-ranked North Shore. Breen earned a trip to the New York State Championships for her performance at the counties, finishing in the top five of her class. At the State Championships, Breen ran a 34 second personal record and finished in the top half of her race.
The girl’s program will be losing four great seniors in Breen, Cotroneo, DaCosta and Martins. However, Gabbay looks to lead a young team to another successful season. Inspired by the lessons of their upperclassmen, Gabbay, Cappeller, Shi and Karen Lee are looking to keep the championships coming.
Six Mineola cross country athletes qualified for the Nike Cross Country Regional Championships held in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. on November 28.
Seniors Caitlin Breen, Erika DaCosta and Sal Massa were joined by juniors Nuno Tinoco and Cindy Gabbay and freshman Fred Lang. All six athletes earned the trip through the performances they turned in throughout the season. Breen qualified for the NY State Championships and was named All-Conference and All-Division. DaCosta was also named All-Conference and All-Division. Gabbay earned All-Division honors as voted on by the coaches.
Newcomers Nuno Tinoco and Fred Lang earned their trips to the regionals with their great breakout seasons. Both athletes earned All-Division honors as voted on by the Nassau County coaches. This honor goes to the top 14 athletes in a division consisting of over 200 runners.
Tinoco led the team in all but one meet of the season. He set the junior school record for 5K and 4K and is within seconds of breaking the overall school record.
Lang shattered the freshman school record for 5K and was named Freshman All-County for his fifth place finish at the Freshman/Sophomore County Championships. Both Tinoco and Lang are sure to be top runners in the conference and county next year.
Massa completed four years of Cross Country. Over the years, he improved his time over 11 minutes for a 5K. His tenacity and determination helped earn him a trip to the regional meet.
The athletes were treated to presentations by Olympian Anna Willard (steeplechase) and author Matt McCue.
The highlight of the Regional Championship trip was Breen’s performance at the challenging Regional Championship course, which earned her a medal as one of the top 20 in the Northeast Region as she finished in 16th place.