Schools Shine In Track Championships

Blue Devils Win Indoor Track Titles


 There was much to celebrate after the Huntington girls track team won the Suffolk crown.

There was much to celebrate after the Huntington girls track team won the Suffolk crown.

The Lady Blue Devils were hoping for a top-three finish, but they did even better. The Huntington High School girls track and field team won its first ever Suffolk indoor championship in convincing fashion last Saturday at Suffolk-West in Brentwood.

A series of spectacular performances helped the Blue Devils accumulate 74 points in the Suffolk small schools championships and top runners-up Shoreham-Wading River and Westhampton Beach by a wide margin.

“I thought we could grab a top three spot, but we were a little shocked we won and by such a large margin,” said Shawn Anderson, the team’s assistant coach. “As was the league championship, this was a total team effort and everyone came to compete and did so exceptionally.”

Senior Tara Byrnes successfully defended her Suffolk shot put title with a toss of 35-09.50, a personal best distance. Twin sister Ellyn Byrnes placed sixth with a throw of 30-05.00. Junior Nina Cartwright finished 15th with a toss that measured 28-00.00.

After Huntington qualified four athletes for the 1000-meter run, senior Suzie Petryk turned in the finest performance of her career, running a smart, tactical race on the way to her first county crown. The teenager sat on the “shoulder” of Eastport-South Manor sophomore Taylor McClay for three laps before overtaking her in the final 300-meter stretch.

“She didn’t look back,” Anderson said. Petryk crushed the three-minute barrier and finished first in a new school record time of 2:57.47, which broke Kristen Kiraly’s previous Huntington mark.

Petryk’s time ranks her No. 1 in Suffolk and No. 6 in the state according to Sophomore teammates Alexis Pastorelli (3:16.98) and Louise Koepele (3:24.21) finished 10th and 12th, respectively. Eighth-grader Sophie Dellecave (3:24.95) finished in a personal best time of 3:24.95 to place 14th in the field of 23.

“It felt truly fantastic,” Petryk said about winning the 1000-meter county title. “I couldn’t have asked for a better race. So many girls on our team had amazing performances. It was a really wonderful way for me and the other seniors to enjoy our last county championships.”

Blue Devil track and field newcomer Taylor Moreno displayed her dazzling talent by winning the long jump county title with a leap of 16-11.75. The junior later captured fifth place in the triple jump with an effort that measured 34-09.00.

Versatile team newcomer Ryann Gaffney ran a sensational race, finishing third in the 55-meter hurdles in 9.22 after qualifying for the finals with a preliminary round time of 9:12.

Senior Kayla Eidle continued a long string of consistently superb performances in the 1500-meter race walk. The teenager again lowered her school record, this time to 7:50.57 to finish fourth in Suffolk.

In what many felt was the deepest 600-meter field ever assembled in Suffolk, junior Alexandra Koumas battled to a sixth-place finish in 1:40.66, her best time of the winter and just 9/100ths off the current school record, which the teenager set last year.

“I think our team has put a lot of effort into this season and it really showed today,” Koumas said. “We were all super excited and wanted to keep the momentum going after winning the league title. Most of all, I think today showed the depth that we have on our team and in our program.”

Entering the race as the underdog, Huntington’s 4x800m relay team of Pastorelli, freshman Nicole Abbondandelo, Koumas and Petryk also won a Suffolk crown.

Leading off the race, Pastorelli ran well to put the Blue Devils in a solid fourth-place position. Abbondandello slowly gained some ground in the next leg and moved Huntington into second place, trailing only Miller Place. Koumas was superb in the third segment, steadily closing the gap with Miller Place and finally overtaking the leaders on the second lap of her leg before handing off to Petryk.

“From there, Suzie just powered home and ran a powerful leg,” Anderson said.

The Blue Devils finished first in 9:51.23, more than 11 seconds ahead of runner-up Miller Place. The time set a new Huntington High School record in the event.

In other action for the Blue Devils, sophomore Marina Ruzic matched her best performance ever to take fourth place in long jump with a leap of 16-05.25. Huntington’s 4x200m relay team consisting of Moreno, Shand, Ruzic and Gaffney brought home the baton in 1:49.77, 1/100th of a second behind runner-up Amityville (1:49.76) and heels of first place Miller Place, which finished in 1:49.36. Savannah Richardson took fifth place in the high jump with a leap of 5-00.00. Abbondandello continued to make strides in the 3000m run. In a fast competitive race, she placed fifth overall in a time of 10:58.95. Junior Lexi Mills notched a huge personal best in triple jump, leaping 32-07.00 to take 15th place. Eighth-grader Hadley Clayton continued making big strides as she lowered her personal best time in the 1500-meter run by almost seven seconds to 5:33.12.

Coach Debra Cheskes was ecstatic about how Huntington performed.

“This is a deep and talented team and they worked so hard all season,” Cheskes said. “It paid off in the end for them.”

Meanwhile, the Huntington High School boys winter track and field team ran away with the county small schools championship at Suffolk West in Brentwood on Saturday. Huntington won seven separate events and glided to its first county winter crown under current head coach Ron Wilson.

“Everyone showed up today,” said Wilson. “Everything went right. We have some very talented young men. It was wonderful watching them succeed.”

Infinite Tucker won both the long jump and 600-meter run. Kyree Johnson captured the 55-meter dash in a photo finish and the 300-meter dash. Matteo McNeil won the shot put. Sondy Jean-Baptiste took the high jump. The 4x200m relay team of Johnson, Exayvian Crowell, Lawrence Leake and Tucker also won a gold medal.

The Blue Devils far outpaced runner-up Amityville in the team standings, 96-53. Eastport-South Manor (43), Bayport-Blue Point (36), Kings Park (33), East Islip (27), Comsewogue (24), Port Jefferson (21), Shoreham-Wading River (14), Hauppauge (12), East Hampton (10), Islip (9), Deer Park (8), Sayville (8), Bellport (7), Mercy (6), Westhampton Beach (6), Southampton (6), John H. Glenn (4), Rocky Point (4), Harborfields (4), Miller Place (2) and Mount Sinai (1) railed far behind.

Crowell enjoyed set two individual personal best marks and playing a key role in the 4x200 meter relay title. The junior took a silver medal in the triple jump with a distance of 41-05.75 and finished a strong fifth in the 55-meter-high hurdles in 8.11 seconds.

Johnson thrilled the crowd, winning the 55-meter dash in 6.61 seconds, 2/100ths of a second ahead of favored Amityville senior Hassan Matthews. The Huntington sophomore trailed early, but jetted across the finish line to win the Suffolk championship. The teenager grabbed his second individual county crown when he outran the field in the 300-meter dash in 36.22 seconds, edging sophomore teammate Lawrence Leake, who finished second in 37.05.

Looking almost effortless as he went about doing it, Tucker won the 600-meter run in 1:22.89. The junior also captured the long jump with a leap of 22-04.

Tucker finished up his day by running the anchor leg of the 4x200m relay. Like only he can do, even when he isn’t trying to, the junior injected a bit of flair into the race. When heading toward the final bend, one of Tucker’s shoes came loose and flew off his foot and high into the air. The teenager ran the stretch with only one shoe in place, but still held off Amityville’s fast closing Brenden Paula. Huntington’s time of 1:32.91 was 69/100ths ahead of the Crimson Tide.

In the shot put, McNeil and fellow senior Jimmie Nelson both came from behind to finish 1-2. McNeil launched the weighted ball 49-09.00 to top Nelson, whose best toss measured 48-01.00. Junior Tasean Betts (42-00.00) and freshman Sam Bergman (40-08.00) placed ninth and tenth, respectively. Junior Michael Lonergan was 16th with a toss of 37-07.00. Emannuel Clereaux finished 18th after throwing 36-06.25.

Jean-Baptiste continued to dominate all opponents in the high jump, winning the event with a leap of 6-02.

Junior Kyle O’Brien finished ninth in the 1000-meter run in 2:44.81.Huntington’s 4x400m relay team consisting of O’Brien, Mitch Rudish, Kymani Murray and Mark Rafuse finished ninth in at time of 3:54.68.

“It was a fine day for Huntington track,” Wilson said.

Wildcats Race To Suffolk County Championships


As Walt Whitman High School senior Chad Maier rounded the track at Suffolk County Community College on Jan. 30, he knew he had one lap in the boys large-school 3200-meter run championships before he’d be crowned the winner.

“One more,” Maier shouted at a judge while making a “one” sign with his finger as he crossed the starting mark and ventured into the final lap.

Why was Maier so adamant about pointing out his final lap? Well, for starters, Maier was leading the pack for the entire race and knew he had just one more to go before winning. That, and the very same judge he motioned to had “rung the bell” – an indicator of when a race’s first runner enters their final lap – a bit too early; in fact, a lap too early.

Despite the confusion, finishing with a time of 9:46.35, Maier won the race and earned his school 10 points in the championship meet, in which the Wildcats finished in 11th place out of 21 teams with 20 points. Whitman’s girls team would take to the very same track on Sunday and finish in 13th place out of 20 teams with 12 points.

As for the boys, along with Maier’s first-place performance, senior Shamar Powell also clocked in ahead of his competition in the 600-meter run with a time of 1:22.67; he also earned 10 points for Whitman.

Other standouts include the boys 4x800 meter relay team – made up of Maier, Powell, Jonathan Vital and Jon O’Toole – which clocked in at 8:38.56, good for seventh place out of 15 teams.

For the Lady Wildcats, Alexandra Greaves, a junior, shined in the 55-meter dash with a new personal best time of 7.34. Greaves finished second in the race with that time during the large-school championships and earned Whitman 8 points. Allysia Jones, a senior, also ran in the 55-meter dash and finished with a time of 7.51, which was good for 2 points and fifth place.

Greaves and Jones – who teamed up with Antoinette Butts Miller and Amani Howard – also earned 2 points in the 4x200 meter relay with a time of 1:51.04.

Now the Wildcats prepare for the boys and girls Section XI Championship State Qualifier Meet on Feb. 8, which will once again be hosted at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. Admission will be $6 and the meet is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

Tornadoes Tear Up Suffolk Championships


As many prepared for “the Big Game” last weekend, the Tornadoes of Harborfields High School had their sights set on something else: the Suffolk County small-school winter track championships.

Hosted at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Saturday, both the boys and girls winter track squads from Harborfields hit the indoor track with plenty of success. The girls, led by big performances from Melissa Greaves and Jamie Grossman, clocked in for 12th place with 16 points out of the 22 schools in attendance. The boys, supplied by Jack Wilson and Matthew Katz, finished in 19th place with 4 points of their own.

The school’s best individual performance came from Greaves in the girls 600-meter run, which she finished in third place with a time of 1:40.13. In the process, Greaves earned 6 points for Harborfields. Grossman chipped in with 4 points of her own following the 1500-meter run, which she finished in 4:58.85 to earn fourth place out of the 22 runners that participated.

Both Greaves and Grossman – along with Elizabeth Larkin and Kerry Gaye – stepped up in the girls 4x800 meter relay as well. The group finished with a time of 10:11.26, which was good for third place and 6 more points.

As for the boys, the Tornadoes’ sophomore, Katz, ran in the 1600-meter run; he finished with a time of 4:42.72 for fifth place and 2 points. Katz’ senior teammate, Wilson, raced in the 3200-meter run and earned 1 point for his time of 10:10.81.

Harborfields’ 4x200 meter boys relay team – made up of Justin Murphey, Randy Maldon, Ryan Dondero and Matt Moyka – also earned 1 point for their sixth-place finish in the run; they finished at 1:38.55.

Now, the Tornadoes will move on to the Section XI small-school state qualifier championships, which will once again be hosted at Suffolk County Community College, on Feb. 8. The action is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and admission is $6.

Cold Spring Harbor Soars With Nassau’s Best


St. Anthony’s High School kept its door open a bit longer than it typically does on a Tuesday night this week. As boys and girls from across Nassau County flocked to the school, the South Huntington school played host to the Section VIII County B Winter Track Championships – and the Seahawks of Cold Spring Harbor didn’t miss out.

Led by big performances from Isabelle Harouche and the 4x800 meter relay team, the Lady Seahawks cruised to 18 points and a ninth-place finish. The boys, powered by their 4x400 meter relay team, earned a point of their own.

Harouche, a senior, competed in the 1500-meter run and clocked in at 4:50.56. Her teammate, Daniela LoCastro, a junior, finished a few seconds behind her at 4:55.28. Respectively, the girls added 8 and 4 points to their team’s overall score with second- and fourth-place finishes.

The 4x400 meter relay team – made up of Harouche, LoCastro, Alexia Insigna and Katherine Wells – finished its competition in third place to earn 6 points of its own; the girls finished the race with a time of 10:36.66. The 4x400 meter relay team – which is Emma Baudo, Shannon Logan, Maggie Hahn and Jillian Futter – finished in seventh place with a time of 4:45.44.

As for the boys, the Seahawks for fueled by Eddie Fox, Gus Kasper, Jerel Sabella and Tyler Sellafico – better known as the 4x400 meter relay team. The boys, clocking in at 3:50.58, finished in sixth place out of the 10 teams that competed and earned Cold Spring Harbor 1 point.

Elsewhere, Kasper finished with a 39.08 time in the 300-meter dash, and Fox came in at 40.17 in the same race. The 4x800 meter relay team – consisting of Anand Jay Subudhi, Ryan Burns, Robert Becker and Justin Relf – finished in seventh place with its time of 9:32.60.

Next up, the Nassau County State Qualifier meet will be held, once again, at St. Anthony’s High School on Feb. 11. The meet is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.