Clarke's Mercedes motors to conference win


Clarke senior Tristynn Mercedes captured the Nassau Conference IV girls’ cross-country championship race this fall and led the team to a runner-up finish to Friends Academy.

Mercedes took hold of the 5K race in the early stages and was unchallenged turning for home at Bethpage State Park on Oct. 27. She crossed the line in 19-minutes, 46.5-seconds, the only finisher in the field of 65 runners to crack the 20-minute mark. Sophomore Isabella Pascucci of Friends Academy was second in 20:14.7, and Cold Spring Harbor senior Lauren Doersky placed third in 20:43.0.

“Tristynn has a great work ethic and was one of the captains,” Clarke coach Mike Leonard said of Mercedes, who qualified for the state meet. “She’s trained with the boys’ team for years,” he added. “She’s a tremendous kid and a tremendous runner.”

The Lady Rams, who won the division regular-season title, finished with 45 team points, with all five scorers finishing in the top 20 in Conference IV. Senior Jada Atchison (21:16.3) was fifth, sophomore Gabriella Martins (22:05.1) placed 10th, senior Julianna Vuotto (22:46.3) finished 16th, and junior Amy Duong was 20th. Moreover, the team’s depth showed with seniors Haley Anderson and Stephanie Hsu not too far behind.

On the boys’ side, Clarke finished a respectable seventh in Conference IV after placing three runners in the top 15. Junior Brandon Peralta set the pace for the Rams and rounded out the top 10 with a time of 18:03.8. He was their top performer all year, Leonard said, but some teammates weren’t too far behind.

Senior Joe Hoffman was next for the Rams, placing 13th in the race in 18:27.2. Junior Arman Singh (15th in 18:33.4), sophomore Nick Abisiti (19:45.3) and senior William Colvin (20:25.1) rounded out the team scoring. Peralta, Hoffman and Singh earned All-Conference honors. “To have three All-Conference kids makes it a good year,” Leonard said.

“All 24 kids in the entire program set a PR this season,” he added.

Since the Section VIII championships/state qualifier meet scheduled for Nov. 3 wasn’t held due to Superstorm Sandy, the conference results were used to determine qualifiers for the state meet. Mercedes was Clarke’s lone competitor and “did well considering the conditions,” Leonard said.