The prospects for Nicholas Cipolla and the rest of the Smithtown cross country team certainly seem a lot clearer this week. The usual preseason uncertainty gave way to supreme confidence after Smithtown won the varsity A race at the Bob Pratt Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park last weekend.
Led by Cipolla, Smithtown took the first three places and scored 27 points. Cipolla won on Suffolk’s famously difficult 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 10.05 seconds. Steven Spreizer Jr. was second in 17:15.98 and Nicholas DeFelice was third in 17:22.19.
“I thought it was a good starting point to see what we could possibly do,” Cipolla said. “After that meet, I feel confident that I can run faster. My time goals are just going to get faster, and I feel like my team can compete with the top teams in the county. It’s just incredible, we got our names out there.”
Cipolla said he was inspired, in part, by Patchogue-Medford’s Carlos Santos, who won the senior race at the Jim Smith Invitational in 17:10.51 one week earlier. Runners thrive on a chance to outdo one another and Cipolla is no different.
“I said to myself, ‘Let me see what I could do,’ ” Cipolla said. “I was lower on the [Tully runners] rankings than I thought I should have been. So let me go out there and make a statement and show that I’m still here and I’m going to be one of the top guys. Let’s have them come after me and see what they got.”
After the race, Cipolla was ranked 34th in the state and 19th in Class A on tullyrunners.com.
Cipolla’s overall goals are simple, just go as fast as he can and be among the top two or three runners in the county come November. And of course, a return trip to the state meet Nov. 11 in Ontario with his team.
“We have the pieces, once again, to go up to the state meet,” he said. “If everything goes our way, let’s see what happens. I think we can do it again.”