SOUND TO BAY 10K


BY BOB LIEPA | SPORTS EDITOR

It was a Miller Place High School reunion — at the finish line.

Two Miller Place High School graduates, Bryan Knipfing and Christina De Rosa, did their alma matter proud on Sunday morning, winning their respective races in the 11th annual Sound to Bay 10K.

De Rosa won the race for the third time in four years, and Knipfing took his second victory in the event, which starts at Iron Pier Beach in Northville and concludes at South Jamesport Beach. Both won by comfortable margins on a day that was anything but comfortable.

Knipfing, 25, wowed the spectators with his strong finish to the line in a time of 34 minutes 59 seconds. The Miller Place man finished 59 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Shawn Fitzgerald of Cutchogue.

“I didn't feel like I was being pushed,” Knipfing said, “but when I pulled ahead I kind of knew that I was going to be on my own.”

The next person to complete the 6.2-mile endurance test on this hazy, humid morning was De Rosa, 22, of Sound Beach, who didn't run in this race last year in order to compete in another race.

When the race director, Mario Carrera, was told of the Miller Place connection between the two runners, he said: “That is awesome. I love it.”

A record 388 runners came out for the race, an improvement from last year's turnout of 323, according to Carrera. The competitors included runners from nine states and four countries.

Knipfing, who coaches the Bishop McGann-Mercy High School boys' track and field team, was 13th in the Shelter Island 10K and sixth in a Southampton Fourth of July race earlier this summer. He was gunning for a time of 34:30 on Sunday, but the conditions weren't conducive for that.

Patrick D'Ambrosio of Yonkers was the third male finisher in 39:13.

With no one in front of him to chase, Knipfing had to keep pushing himself.

“You have to be disciplined,” he said. “At that point, I was just worried about my pace and keeping my time around where I wanted it to be.”

Scotland was well represented in the race. Three Scottish runners finished among the top 10 — Gary Loue (fifth in 40:54), Owen McIntyre (ninth in 42:24) and Roger McKleney (10th in 42:31). Loue followed Benjamin Johnson of Trumbull, Conn., who was fourth in 40:15.

A couple of local men also featured prominently. Rick Buckheit of Greenport was sixth in 41:03, four seconds ahead of seventh-place Nick Troisi of Cutchogue.

De Rosa, a former University of Massachusetts runner, competed in the race for the third time, and for the third time she had a winner's medal draped around her neck. She indicated she was happy with her time of 36:56 in the first 10-kilometer race she has run in almost a year.

The flat course, which is so different from the hilly areas De Rosa trains on, is more to her liking. Even more than Knipfing, De Rosa had plenty of distance between herself and her nearest female competitors. The winner of last year's women's race, Diane Kenna of New York City, took second place and was nearly seven minutes behind De Rosa at 43:37. Sharon Zuhoski of Middle Island was third in 44:38.

“It was hard,” De Rosa said. “I was in like no-man's land.”

Moira Tuohy of Floral Park finished fourth in 44:50. Following her were: Susan Bayat of New York City (45:22), Vicki Edwards of Mattituck (47:05), Jill O'Brien of Oceanside (47:16), Jillian Hancock of Patchogue (47:18), Emily Malloy of New York City (48:13) and Joanne Howard of Southampton (48:28).

One of the biggest rounds of applause for the day was reserved for one of the last finishers — and the oldest runner to complete the course: 80-year-old Peter Badmajew of Jamesport. Badmajew was joined in the race by his granddaughter, Karolina Wustasik of Brooklyn. Badmajew, who stopped running marathons only two years ago, said the secret is just taking one step after another.

“I'm a long-distance runner, so as far as long distance, I can keep going,” said Badmajew, whose time was 1:29:35. “It keeps you alive.”

Runners agreed that the toughest part of the race is the stretch from the first mile marker to the third mile marker on Manor Lane. “It's a long, never-ending road,” said Knipfing.

That is what Greg Sanders of Jamesport, running in his first 10K, discovered. “If you can mentally get past Manor Lane, you're golden; you're almost done,” he said. “Manor Lane is a tough, long strip there. It gets a little hot out there.”

Although cloud cover gave runners occasional protection from the blazing sun, the humidity made the run a challenge.

“Very hot, very humid,” Badmajew said. “Usually I don't sweat, but this time the sweat was just dripping.”

bliepa@timesreview.com