Karl Himmelmann, the new head coach of the Mattituck High School boys track and field team, wasn’t prepared for what he saw when he entered the school cafeteria for a preseason meeting of the school’s boys and girls track teams.
“It was just packed with boys and girls, and I couldn’t believe it,” said Himmelmann, recalling his reaction.
The two teams combined have nearly 100 athletes, and 50 of them are on the boys team. That, Himmelmann said, affords the Tuckers a “tremendous opportunity.”
At the same time, having so many new faces presents a challenge, too.
“One of my main concerns this week was learning the kids’ names and putting names to faces,” Himmelmann said after practice last Wednesday.
One name Himmelmann has no trouble with Jack Dufton. The hard-working senior with the flowing long hair is a familiar face on the Mattituck track, pushing himself harder and harder at a variety of events. Dufton is so versatile that Himmelmann enjoys the luxury of placing him in just about any event, depending on the team’s need for a particular meet.
Dufton’s signature event is the 800 meters, which he has run in under 2 minutes.
Seen as a natural for the pentathlon, Dufton competed in that event last year and chased after the school record of 2,933 points that Keith Reda set in 1990. Dufton didn’t reach the record, but he did make it to the state meet, finishing 23rd among 31 athletes with 2,763 points. That was 26 points less than his total a week earlier when he was the top Division II point scorer at the Section XI individual championships and state qualifier.
“He’s looking great,” Himmelmann said of Dufton. “It’s been great to see him grow as an athlete.”
In Dufton and senior Darius Brew, Mattituck (4-2 last year) has two quality high jumpers.
Dan Harkin, a junior, ran a 4:54 mile last year. The team has three junior throwers in the discus and shot put in Eshi Baldano, Chris Schroeder and Carter Montgomery. Justin Lake, a sophomore long-distance runner, will handle the 1,600 and 800 meters, and senior Frank Imbriano runs the 110-meter high hurdles.
“I think the team is looking strong,” Himmelmann said. “We have strong kids in every event.”
And how is Himmelmann doing with learning all those names?
He said, “I think I know pretty much about three-quarters of them right now.”
Phone message left for Greenport/Southold’s new coach, Luis Morales, were not returned prior to the deadline. The Clippers went 1-5 last season.
Photo caption: Mattituck senior Jack Dufton has run the 800 meters in under 2 minutes. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)