Although the boys' cross-country team is not the most followed team at Oyster Bay High School, it has certainly been one of the most successful during the past three years. It has won three straight Class C County Championships and last year the team went undefeated to earn its first Conference Championship.
It will be tough to improve on this record, but the Oyster Bay runners certainly will be giving it their best shot. If the boys are to succeed this year, they will have to overcome the graduation of four of their top seven runners from last season. There are still several returning runners, as well as some key additions.
George Townsend, the defending Class C County Champion is back, as well as fellow senior and All-Division runner Ed McNamara. Junior John Stapleton and sophomore Thomas Boorstein are also returning runners. Senior Anthony Frangella, a two-miler in spring track, will help the team immensely. David Wurtz, a freshman who ran part of the season on Varsity last year and earned All-Conference honors, will be running again for the Baymen. He will be joined by fellow freshmen Cole Poelker, Jesse Abrahams and Stephen Cogliandro.
Despite the new faces, Coach Bob Browne hopes that the ideas of past teams remain with this year's squad. "I hope the desire to win is as strong this year as it has been in recent years," said Browne. "That is what made the other teams so good.
Browne is counting heavily on senior leadership this year to help the younger runners excel.
The girls' team was undefeated last year when enough runners were present and many of the runners succeeded on an individual basis. All-County runner and state meet qualifier Antonia Laino will return this season. She will be joined by fellow junior Kristen Egan, an All-Division runner. Senior Christine Ajudua, an All-Conference runner last season, will also return. Fellow seniors Erin Maier and Liz Papa will also represent Oyster Bay.
The boys and girls teams began practice on Monday, Aug. 30, over a week before school had started. Although this was the first organized practice, the runners had been training on their own throughout the summer. Many different routes, with distances from three-to-six miles, were used during practice, including the trails in Tiffany Creek Preserve and the nearby roads.
The team's first meet is on Sept. 18 at Sunken Meadow State Park, where all the invitationals will take place. The league meets are to be decided at Bethpage State Park. The distance run in these meets is five kilometers or 3.1 miles. The schools competing against Oyster Bay include Wheatley, Friends Academy, Valley Stream South and Locust Valley.
The season promises to be an exciting one for both the boys' and girls' teams. Of course, excitement is best enjoyed with success and success has certainly been a part of Oyster Bay's cross-country teams in the past three years.