BREWSTER – Official fall high school sports practices began two weeks ago. But the Brewster and John Jay cross-country teams were among many that practiced unofficially virtually all summer with the hope of fall dividends.
“If you don’t do it over the summer you’re going to be behind. The summer is half the season,” Brewster head coach Joe Scelia said while overseeing practice on the North County Trailway.
“It’s a good group. They do what it takes to be there,” added assistant coach Renee Acquisto.
“I feel everyone trained really hard. I think we have the potential to make states this year,” said senior Mike Delfay, who participated in daily informal 8 a.m. workouts from the end of June on.
Brewster won its league last year and was ranked top-10 in the state most of 2014 before a poor day at the sectional championships.
This season, Delfay is expected to be one of the top runners on one of the state’s top teams. MileSplit, the website that’s all-everything about running, has ranked the boy Bears the fourth best Class B team in New York and the best in the section. And it tabs senior Kevin Hazelwood as the fourth best Class B runner in New York.
“Letters and e-mails have been pouring in (from college teams) for him and Mike Delfay like crazy,” Scelia said.
Scelia’s obviously happy to have the pair for another year, along with fellow senior Zach Nordstrom, who’ll captain the team with Delfay.
Nordstrom likes his team’s depth. Three juniors, Dayshawn Siranaula, Reggie Titre-Barnor and Jason Maguire, are expected to be big contributors.
While it’s unranked, Scelia appears as enthused about his girls squad.
“The girls are going to surprise some people,” said Scelia, who pegs John Jay and Pearl River as two of the top teams to beat.
Brewster is heavy on youth with seventh-grader Kennedy Lamoreaux, eighth-grader Marissa Crowley and ninth-grader Florence Cuomo expected to do well.
The only returnee from Brewster’s 2014 top five is Cuomo’s sister, Amelia, a junior. She and fellow captain Kimberly Herman, a senior, aren’t predicting a championship but also aren’t ruling one out.
“There’s been a constant progression and improving times,” Herman said.
“We know if we practice every day we’re going to do better. It’s what keeps us going,” said Amelia Cuomo, who called John Jay the “team to take down.”
John Jay, of course, doesn’t expect to go down.
And it has some reason to think it will claim the section title after finishing second to Pearl River for two straight years.
Top runner Gemma Nutall, a senior, led the Indians during a 2.4-mile time trial run at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation last week. Twenty-nine seconds behind was her in second place was her kid sister, Pippa, one of John Jay’s seven strong freshman.
“She’s going to be legit. We would have won the section if we’d had her last year,” coach Tom Nohilly said of Pippa Nutall.
Nohilly’s daughters, Brooke and Kathryn, who are juniors, should also be among the team’s top four runners with senior Gabby Yablowski, junior Danielle Femia and senior Emily Downs expected to battle for a top-five spot.
Tom Nohilly sent out a summer training program for both his teams, beginning in July.
“Without training over the summer a decent amount, it’s difficult to be ready,” he said, noting the league championship is held just six weeks after school begins.
“We definitely worked harder during summer training,” Gemma Nutall said. “We’re really motivated this year. We have an amazing group of girls and I think we’ll accomplish a lot.”
That doesn’t mean just winning the league but winning the section to go to states.
That’s a plan the boys would also like to follow.
The team’s top runner should be Tom Nohilly’s third child in the program, Eion, a senior.
Last year, he formed a formidable top three with the since-graduated Ben Smith and Liam Hackett.
His individual goals are to finish in the top five at states and to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals. But Nohilly, who listed Brewster, Pearl River and Somers as top rivals, is focused on team, thinking it will be strong.
Senior Lucas Smallidge, sophomore Charlie Stewart, senior Daniel Neuburger, sophomore Jack Buckley, junior Josh Ruben and sophomore Brian Ivey should also be among John Jay’s top finishers.
“This year we have a lot of young guys who are going to be in shape for sectionals,” Eion Nohilly said. “This year we have a real pack.”