Despite a topsy-turvy season turned upside down by Hurricane Sandy, East Islip High School cross-country runner Niamh Ashe finished as the undefeated League III champion this year and was selected to the All-County first team.

Ashe was one of Suffolk County's top-rated 3,000-meter runners at the conclusion of last spring's track season, and continued her superlative high school athletic career this fall. She posted the fourth fastest 5K time at Sunken Meadow State Park for Class A girls this season with 19:32.3, a feat accomplished at the Suffolk County Coaches Association Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 29. She also posted the fourth fastest time on the three-mile course, having run 18:35.0.

On Oct. 20, East Islip’s girls cross-country squad participated at the annual Brown University Northeast Cross Country Championship at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick, R.I, with Ashe leading the way. Running in the event’s championship race, she finished in eighth place, beating many champions from nearby states.

Her team competed in the Division II Championships at Sunken Meadow on Oct. 23, but Ashe was unable to participate due to an Achilles tendon strain.

Hurricane Sandy played havoc with the cross-country team’s post-season. East Islip’s top seven girls were scheduled to compete in the state qualifier meet at Sunken Meadow on Nov. 2, which was canceled when 350 trees fell in the state park. Section XI officials rescheduled the cross-country state qualifier for Nov. 7, and Ashe was 100 percent healthy and ready to improve her time, but the weather again stepped in. That Wednesday's nor’easter put an end to the state qualifier and the officials decided to select the individual runners for the state team based on the results of the Division Championships.  Ashe unfortunately did not compete in that meet and thus did not make the state team, despite excellent recent training. “Boys track coach Jim Marino and I both thought Niamh had a great chance to make the state team,” said East Islip girls track coach Steve Brown.

Along with teammates Emily Fusco and Kayla Murphy, Ashe extended her season by running as an independent on Nov. 24 at the prestigious Foot Locker Cross Country Championships Northeast Regional at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. She will also have a chance to compete at the state meet again at the end of the winter and spring seasons.  

“Not only is Niamh an excellent athlete, but she excels in the classroom as well,” said Brown. The senior plans to continue running at the college level and has already been contacted by numerous colleges that would like her to attend.