As if the pentathlon isn’t tough enough, a day like Monday comes along with wind, driving rain and temperatures on the cold side.
This was Stephen Nyilas’ introduction to the pentathlon in the Section XI Division Championships at Comsewogue High School.
“This is the worst ever,” the Mattituck High School junior said. “It’s hard for me to compete in the rain.”
And, as if all of that wasn’t daunting enough, Nyilas is following in the footsteps of Jack Dufton, who last spring broke a 26-year-old Mattituck pentathlon record and then seven days later surpassed his own record with 3,182 points in the state meet.
“He’s kind of a role model for track,” said Nyilas.
With Dufton having graduated, Nyilas emerged to take on the pentathlon, which tests athletes in five events. The first three of them were completed Monday, with Nyilas sitting in third place among 12 Division III athletes with 1,394 points.
Nyilas finished first in the shot put at 35 feet, 11 1/2 inches, was fifth in the high jump at 5-2 1/4 and sixth in the 110-meter hurdles in 19.35 seconds. The long jump and 1,500 meters will be held Wednesday.
“I think I’m doing OK right now,” he said.
Nyilas, described by coach Karl Himmelmann as a serious athlete, is in his second year on the team. He was primarily a hurdler and long jumper last year. This season he has been a multiple-event scorer for Mattituck.
“This has been a very good season for me. I pr’d in a lot of events,” he said, using the track shorthand for “personal record.”
Among those personal records are 18-6 in the long jump, 56 seconds in the 400 and 5-6 in the high jump.
“There are three or four kids on the team that I think have the potential to do pentathlon, but Stephen just kind of took to it and took the time to [work on] the events that he needed to learn,” Himmelmann said. “He’s picked up the 110 hurdles very quickly. His high jump is up to a 5-6, which for a first-year high jumper is very good, and he’s shot putting anywhere between 32 and 34 feet.”
Himmelmann said his focus on pentathletes is “always to keep your strengths strong and improve on your weaknesses.”
What is Nyilas’ take on the pentathlon after Day 1?
“It’s just a bunch of different things to challenge and overcome,” he said.
Himmelmann said: “I’m excited he’s taken on the challenge of doing the pentathlon because it’s an incredibly challenging event to be able to master these five events and be competitive in all five of them. I think this year is a learning experience for Stephen moving forward to next year. Comparing where Jack was as a junior, you know, Stephen is comparable, and I think if he really takes this seriously moving into next year he can be very competitive.”
Photo caption: Mattituck junior Stephen Nyilas competing in the 110-meter high hurdles as part of the pentathlon competition on Monday at Comsewogue High School. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)