Six seniors are returning to the Huntington High School boys’ cross country team with new head coach Onix Salva at the helm. The group has high hopes for the rescheduled season, which will commence on March 1.
The Blue Devils are returning sophomores Matteo Armstrong, Ryan Curran, Ian Rotunno, Nicholas Seitz and Charlie Siepel and seniors Aidan Heller, Isaiah James, Carlos Martinez, Harrison McKenna, Andrew McKenzie and Bryan Wong.
The Blue Devils engaged in several week of pre-season conditioning sessions to prepare themselves physically and mentally.
“While it has been challenging to adjust to running with a mask on in frigid weather, our preseason has been great,” James said. “The coaches at Huntington are nothing but the best and Coach Salva fits right in.”
Ninth graders Thomas Breingan, Benjamin Edgar-McNerney, Brandon Fucci, Lars Galvin, Ethan Goleski, Riley LaCosta, Justin Lardizzone, Jack Ruthkowski and Jackson Stollmack ran on last year’s cross country team at J. Taylor Finley Middle School and any or all of them will be welcomed with open arms by the high school squad.
Huntington is optimistic that the mix of runners is talented enough to produce a competitive and successful team. With the possibility that the race course at Sunken Meadow State Park will be unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tentative plans are being developed to hold meets on the high school campus.
While the pre-season conditioning sessions have been welcomed, the athletes wish conditions were such that actual practices could have been held. “It’s definitely not an ideal situation, but it has been alright,” Heller said. “I’m glad we are still finding a way to train and I’m thankful all our coaches are giving extra time and energy into making sure we still can run and be with the team. Coach Salva is a nice addition. “He has been mostly working with the track sprinters. He is our one-man personal hype crew, so I appreciate the energy he brings.”
Salva is an experienced coach who is already making a strong impression on the Blue Devils. A graduate of Malverne High School, he garnered the Nassau Sprinter of the Year Award and was a six-time All-State finisher.
The new Blue Devil coach obtained a bachelor’s degree in education and exercise science at Florida International University in Miami, where he competed in NCAA Division I. He recently earned a master’s degree in physical education at Hofstra University.
Salva has been mentored by 1996 Olympic gold medalist Derrick Adkins and three-time Olympian Ronald Forbes. He was the head coach of Malverne’s boys’ and girls’ indoor and outdoor track and field teams for five years, developing 11 All-State athletes, including a state champion.