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Middle Schoolers Were Fleet of Foot

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 08:57
Jasper Samuelson, a Springs School eighth grader, finished first among 468 boys at a junior high cross-country meet at Sunken Meadow State Park and set a new school record for the 1.5-mile course. 
Carissa Katz

Among the middle school teams here that did well this fall were East Hampton’s seventh-and-eighth-grade football team, which began its 5-1 season with 44 players and ended the season with 44 players, and the Springs School’s boys cross-country team, which went undefeated for the second year in a row.

Morgan Manne, who coached the Springs boys (and one competitive girl, Danett Gonzalez), said by phone Sunday that she’s checking to see if her top runner, Jasper Samuelson, an eighth grader, had set a Sunken Meadow course record in a recent countywide junior high 1.5-mile race that he ran in 8 minutes and 33 seconds. In doing so, he bested 467 other competitors.

The South Fork middle schools that field cross-country teams, namely Springs, Shelter Island, East Hampton, Southampton, East Moriches, Hampton Bays, and the Riverhead Charter School, convened in invitational meets this fall so as to maximize participation. “Jasper won all of them,” Manne said, “including Sunken Meadow.”

Watts Comly and Aidan Stone, also eighth graders, were usually her number-two and three finishers, she added.

The Springs School has been feeding top performers of late into the East Hampton High School team that Kevin Barry coaches, Brayan Rivera, Liam Knight, and Hudson Goulart among them. Manne said, when asked if Barry knew about Samuelson, Comly, and Stone, “Oh, yes, he’s  well aware of them.”

The boys cross-country team wasn’t the only successful one at Springs this fall. The boys soccer team, which Michael Tamay coached, and the girls soccer team, which John King, the school’s athletic director, coached, had winning seasons. Moreover, said King, three eighth graders, Lucy Knight, Gabby Montes, and Landon Pitts, played on East Hampton High School teams. Knight is on the girls swimming team, which placed second to Sayville-Bayport in the League III meet Friday. Montes played on the girls varsity soccer team, and Pitts played on East Hampton High’s junior varsity golf team.

The East Hampton Middle School football team lost its first game, at Port Jefferson, owing to a last-minute score by the young Royals, but sailed through the competition thereafter, overwhelming Westhampton Beach and Riverhead on the way.

“We had an A team, which played in the first and third quarters, and a B team that played the second and fourth,” Ed McGintee, who assisted the team’s head coach, Ethan Mitchell, said Monday morning, “but, really, they were very, very close. In fact, our toughest games were the intrasquad scrimmages we held.”

“Declan Balnis scored every time he touched the ball, but he wasn’t the only one who could eat up the yards. . . . We beat Westhampton Beach 28-16 and shut out Riverhead 34-0.”

 East Hampton, “taking its foot off the gas,” defeated Hampton Bays 38-20 in its finale here on Oct. 16. The Baymen got on the scoreboard first, but, with Wiley Stern, Balnis (two), and Eli Hitchens running for touchdowns, and with Evan Shoemaker’s extra-point kicks, it was 30-6 East Hampton with four-and-a-half minutes yet to play until the halftime break.

The Montauk School, whose seventh and eighth grade classes are small, had no winning teams this fall, Will Collins, the school’s athletic coordinator, said over the weekend, but two of its students, Cole DeLand, a seventh grader, and Elle Reidlinger, an eighth grader, played on varsity teams -- DeLand on the golf team, which was to have played a county team tournament match at Huntington Monday, and Reidlinger on the varsity girls soccer team.

DeLand, who settled in at number-three this fall, behind Nico Horan-Puglia and Juan Palacios, is “a very hard-working, diligent young kid who possesses a ton of talent,” said Rich King, the varsity golf team’s coach. “He placed among the county’s top 30 golfers in the recent county individual tournament with rounds of 81 and 85, and he averaged 40.5 for the season.”

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