The Mattituck Tuckers girls track and field team had already beaten The Ross School/Pierson Ravens, 90-60, at Center Moriches High School on Tuesday afternoon in a Suffolk County League VII dual meet. Now, as the afternoon turned into early evening, the Tuckers led the Center Moriches Red Devils by 65-60 going into the final three events of the day, the relay races.
Then the Red Devils won the 4 x 100- and 4 x 400-meter relays to take the lead. It all came down to the 4 x 800 race. Center Moriches led after the first two runners. But the Tuckers’ Rebekah Smith, who was trailing by 70 meters when she took the baton after Savanna Campbell and Megan Finn had run the first two legs of the race, stormed back to get Mattituck back in the race. Sara Paparatto then ran the final leg and crossed the finished line first.
The Tuckers won the race in 12 minutes 2.5 seconds and finished the meet tied with Center Moriches at 70-70.
“It was a real nail-biter,” Mattituck Coach Jean Mahoney said afterwards. “To come back in the last race, when it looked like we were going to lose, to win it and end up in a tie for the meet was just incredible.”
Mahoney, who selects a star of the meet after every meet to receive the so-called “Animal Crackers Award,” said Smith and Paparatto both earned the honor for “their determined and optimistic finishes despite the lead Center Moriches had at the beginning of the race.”
Chelsea Ficner had an outstanding meet for Mattituck (2-1-1), winning the triple jump (32 feet 3 inches), long jump (14-6) and high jump (4-6). Mahoney called Ficner “a quiet, but focused, dedicated athlete.”
Hanora Gralton of Mattituck was victorious in the shot put (26-1) and discus (77-8 3/4).
Another Tucker, Kim Fenoy, took first in the 100-meter high hurdles (18.7) and was second in the 100 (13.8). Paparatto came from behind to win the 3,000 (13:07) and was third in the 1,500 (6:12).
“Sara had a great day,” Mahoney said. “She trailed most of the way in the 3,000 and took the lead on the last two laps. She helped us win the 4 x 800 relay. She was phenomenal.”
Mattituck’s Carly Batist won the 1,500-meter racewalk in 9:45, while Chelsea Guditus was second in 10:50. Lyndsie Taylor of Mattituck was the runner-up in the 400 (1:14.2) and took third in the long jump (12-8 1/2). Her teammate, Morgan Zuhoski, was second in both the long jump (13-5 1/4) and 200 (29.0).
In the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, Mattituck’s Amanda Gatz came in second place (1:28.3) and Jessica Kwasnik was third (1:29.9). Campbell took third in the 800 (2:47) and Stephanie Riesenberg of Mattituck was fourth (3:08).
Lena Stafford won the 400 (1:05.9) and 200 (27.4) for Center Moriches (1-3-1).
Mahoney described herself as “very happy” with her team’s performance.
“Center Moriches traditionally has a good team,” she said. “This year some of their girls are playing lacrosse and rugby. But we were also missing four of our top girls in Emily Ianno, Rebecca Mincielli, Tracy Grim and Fiona Gorman. We hoped we’d win, but we are delighted with the tie.”