WESTHAMPTON BEACH — Home is where the track is.
Competing in their only “home” girls track and field meet of the season, the Mattituck Tuckers beat the Babylon Panthers, 89-53, at Westhampton Beach High School on Saturday. What better way for the Tuckers to put behind the memory of their 88-37 loss to the Port Jefferson Royals two days earlier?
“It was really good because we needed to have a confidence booster,” Mattituck sophomore Amanda Gatz said after Saturday’s victory. “We have a lot of good people on this team, but our last meet didn’t really show that.”
The Tuckers (1-1 overall and in Suffolk County League VII) believed they gave a better account of themselves on Saturday. Kaylee Bergen won both the 1,500 and 3,000 meters in the respective times of 5 minutes 53.4 seconds and 13:03 in addition to running a leg for Mattituck’s winning 4×800-meter relay team. Bergen carried the baton for the anchor leg to complete the relay in 13:03.4 after Sara Paparatto, Savanna Campbell and Anna Goerler handled the first three legs.
The Tuckers swept the three relay races. In the 4×100 relay, Kim Fenoy, Gatz, Lyndsie Taylor and Nicole Murphy clocked a time of 56.0. After that, Goerler, Yuliya Palianok, Shannon Dwyer and Tracy Grim totaled a time of 5:09.2 in the 4×400 relay.
Nobody had to tell Mattituck Coach Jean Mahoney how important the win was for her team. “It’s huge,” she said. “I think the team really has the spirit, they have the drive, they have the will to win, and this really confirmed that they could do it.”
Mattituck also received first-place performances from Jackie Drake in the shot put (27 feet 6 inches), Campbell in the discus (57-0), Fenoy in the 100 high hurdles (18.9) and Gatz in the 400 intermediate hurdles (1:21.1.).
The Tuckers swept points in the shot put and the 400 intermediate hurdles.
“I’m really proud of us today,” Gatz said. “Everyone did amazing. I’m pretty sure we got a lot of firsts, seconds and thirds in races.”
Goerler said, “I think it was really important because on Thursday we got our butts kicked, so to come here today and actually show off what we had and what we’re working for felt good.”
Babylon dropped to 0-2, 0-2.
This is both the youngest and the largest — 42 athletes in all — Mattituck team that Mahoney has coached. With about half of the squad made up of freshmen, the Tuckers have room for growth.
“Very young … very promising.,” Mahoney said. “There’s a lot of talent that we’re working with. They are definitely up and coming.”
Mahoney said she sees a bright future for Desirae Hubbard, a freshman sprinter who has been ill.
Along with that youth, team members say, is a sense of togetherness that was lacking last year.
“We’re much more like a family,” Gatz said. “We’ve become more united.”
The Tuckers, who train on a cinder track at Mattituck High School, gave high marks to the modern facility at Westhampton Beach High School.
“This track is heaven,” Mahoney said. “It’s gorgeous.”
Now the Tuckers hope that their first win of the season has put them on the right track. If nothing else, it was good for their psyche.
“It kind of helped us know that we can do better,” Gatz said. “We proved ourselves today.”