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Lynbrook Owls soar to first girls' cross-country county title

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The Lynbrook girls’ cross-country team captured its first Nassau County Class III title in program history on Nov. 2. Coach Pete Toscano, far left, Caitlin Buchala, Mimi Berkowitz, Kaelyn O’Brien, Liz Murphy and coach Joe Beyrer celebrated the victory.
The Lynbrook girls’ cross-country team captured its first Nassau County Class III title in program history on Nov. 2. Coach Pete Toscano, far left, Caitlin Buchala, Mimi Berkowitz, Kaelyn O’Brien, Liz Murphy and coach Joe Beyrer celebrated the victory.
Courtesy Joe Beyrer

The Lynbrook girls’ cross-country team won its first county championship in program history this year after going a perfect 13-0 during the regular season and going on to win the Division 4a and Conference 4 titles.

“These girls were something special this year,” head coach Joseph Beyrer said. “They started the season two weeks before school started and were willing to put in the time and effort to run. They had three goals in mind: the division, conference and county title, and they were able to check all three things on the list.”

Lynbrook captured the Nassau Class III title on Nov. 2 at Bethpage State Park. The Owls boasted a strong combination of seniors and freshmen this year, and Caitlin Buchala, Liz Murphy, Mimi Berkowitz and Kaelyn O’Brien each received All-County honors, marking the first time in program history that four runners held that distinction. Buchala and Murphy served as senior captains along with Jane Hoeflinger and Allie Schwam, while Berkowitz and O’Brien are freshman.

“We had a perfect mix of girls who knew when to work and knew when to have fun,” Buchala said.

Lynbrook’s top five runners in the championship meet were Buchala (21:37.27); O’Brien (21:38:79); Murphy (21:50.82); Berkowitz (21:58.88); and Schwam (23:37.96).

Beyrer praised Schwam for stepping up in the finals as a replacement runner and thriving in the spotlight. He described Buchala as a “machine” for the team, and noted that she is taking offers from many schools, but has yet to decide on where she will attend college. “She is a lead by example athlete, and the whole team looks up to her,” he said.

Murphy plans to play lacrosse at the University of Cincinnati, and Beyrer described her as a vocal leader who provides lessons to the younger runners. The coach added that the girls’ commitment to teamwork is what helped them thrive this year.

“They worked hard, laughed a lot and had fun,” Beyrer said. “These girls were the perfect combination and were one team, not individuals.”

With five of the Owls’ top 10 runners being freshman, Beyrer said the future is bright for the program and he expects more success in the coming years.

“I think the girls coming back are great athletes and, even more importantly, great kids,” he said. “They had a dream season and I think each of them were excited to be part of the first ever girls’ county championship team for Lynbrook.”