BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO
Emily Ianno of Mattituck reached the state meet last year for the pentathlon.
Competitiveness and loyalty are both central features in Emily Ianno’s makeup. It is the Mattituck High School senior’s competitive fire that has helped make her a standout athlete, and it is her aversion to letting people down that has made her so well-liked. They’re in her nature.
Both qualities were put to the test earlier this spring. Ianno wanted to perform in a school play, and that would have meant missing a good deal of practice with the girls track and field team.
In seeking the O.K. from Tuckers Coach Jean Mahoney, Ianno barely got a few words out of her mouth before Mahoney told her she already knew about the play. The coach said she was making arrangements for Ianno and two other Tuckers involved in the play, Madeline Burlingame and Rebecca Mincieli, to either train early in the morning, before school, or after the team’s practices in the late afternoon.
“Ms. Mahoney went along with it, so it worked out really well for me,” Ianno said. “I was very relieved and so happy that I was able to do both. I wouldn’t have done the play if Ms. Mahoney really didn’t want me to. I’ve been dedicated to her, and she’s been relying on me for all these years.”
As Mahoney and others can attest, Ianno is someone who can be counted on. The Tuckers have been counting on her ever since she was a freshman, racking up points in a variety of events.
“Emily’s an athlete that can do pretty much anything,” said Mahoney, who has known Ianno since she was 3 years old. “She has a gift. It can be a little intimidating to the other kids because they see that she’s a natural athlete, and yet she’s not just a natural athlete. She’s really a great kid.”
Last year Ianno set a school record in the pentathlon with 2,194 points in the state qualifying meet. Then she finished 29th overall in the state meet with 2,144 points.
Considering Ianno’s athleticism, the pentathlon, which consists of the 100-meter high hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800 meters, seems ideally suited for her. But Ianno said she doesn’t want to compete in the pentathlon this year. She said she would prefer to try to qualify for the state meet in a single event. For one thing, Ianno said, it would be less stressful. For another, she wouldn’t have to worry about running the 800. “That’s not for me,” she said. “I don’t think it’s for anyone. That’s just the worst. It takes everything out of you.”
Ianno can do so much on the track or in the field events. She has high jumped as high as 4 feet 8 inches, thrown the shot put 30 feet, run the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 1 minute 11 seconds, and long jumped as far as 15-5.
With little training to prepare her while she was involved in the school play, Ianno made her season debut on April 20. She was a winner in all four events she competed in — the high jump (4-8), shot put (25-5 1/4), long jump (15-2) and 4×100-meter relay (55.3) — in a 90-60 loss to the Hampton Bays Baymen, perhaps surprising even herself in the process.
One person who wasn’t surprised, though, was Mahoney. “It’s Emily,” the coach said. “She never surprises me.”
Not even with a brief excursion as an actress.
Ianno described her appearance in “The Curious Savage” as a one-time thing. The role of one of the characters, Titus, was cast for a male, but because of a shortage of male actors, Titus was transformed into Victoria, played by Ianno. “I was like the mean, greedy stepdaughter who wanted money,” she said. “I loved it.”
At least one reviewer raved about Ianno’s performance.
“I thought she was great,” Mahoney said. “This is one more thing that she conquered.”
Down the road, Ianno would like to be a dentist one day. She talks excitedly about going to LeMoyne College in Syracuse, where she will participate in that school’s dental program.
Before then, however, Ianno may make one more appearance in the state meet. It just may be possible that she reconsiders her decision about the pentathlon.
“I would love to go to the states for one event, maybe even the shot put,” Ianno said. “If it comes down to it that I’m not good enough in one event, I’ll definitely do the pentathlon. I tell myself now that I don’t want to do [it], but when it comes down to it, my competitive nature will take over and I’ll be like, ‘I’m going to the states.’ “