Hamilton, Schneider give Tuckers a lot to cheer about

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Long-distance runner Corey Zlatniski is part of a Mattituck team that has shown spirit and togetherness.

WESTHAMPTON BEACH — A season-opening hammering might have been a cause for discouragement for another high school boys track and field team, but not for the Mattituck Tuckers.

Following Mattituck’s 105-35 loss to the Port Jefferson Royals on Thursday, Tuckers Coach Pete Hansen had a bit of a sour taste in his mouth. It was a rough meet contested in miserable weather that included hail, of all things. “It felt like everything was working against us,” he said.

And then, most unexpectedly, Hansen heard cheering — from his team bus of all places!

Hansen said his spirit was lifted by the way the older Tuckers cheered and recognized the achievements of their younger teammates, some of whom had never competed in a varsity meet before.

Mattituck’s rookie coach might have learned something about his team’s character that day. On Saturday, he learned something else: The Tuckers can run, jump, throw and win.

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Mattituck freshman Ian Husak competed in the 110-meter high hurdles.

Rebounding in a manner that had to feel satisfying, Mattituck won in its second Suffolk County League VII meet of the season, convincingly, too. Two seniors, John Hamilton and Chaz Schneider, had an outstanding day, leading the Tuckers to a 100-45 victory over the Babylon Panthers at Westhampton Beach High School’s Carl Hansen Memorial Field.

“We saw what we could do on a nice day,” said Hansen.

Hamilton crushed his previous-best height by 10 inches to win the high jump at 6-0. He flew to victories in the 800 meters (in 2 minutes 23.4 seconds) and the 400 intermediate hurdles (in 1:07.0). And then, as if that wasn’t enough, he ran the leadoff leg for the winning 4×800 relay team. Hamilton’s split time was 2:28. Wilson Quizphi, Schneider and Corey Zlatniski also contributed to that relay triumph in 9:00.

Schneider, who is in his first track season, triple jumped 34-9, a personal record good enough for first place. He also placed second in both the long jump at 16-11 1/4 and the high jump at 5-8. It was the first time he competed in the high jump, and he scissor-kicked his way up to 5-7. Schneider’s split time in the 4×800 relay was 2:35.

Hamilton and Schneider combined for 29 points.

“These kids are athletes,” said Hansen.

There were other positives, too. Mattituck swept the points in the discus through Bill Goggins (93-3), Brandon Damiani (85-5) and Greg Fedun (75-5).

Two Tuckers, Andy Ennis (36-2) and Goggins (34-1), grabbed the top two places in the shot put while Fedun tied a Babylon thrower for third.

Alex Scalia of Mattituck won the long jump at 17-9 3/4.

Mattituck’s 4×100 relay team of Nigel Ortiz, Brendan Anderson, Scalia and Matt Waggoner turned in a winning time of 48.9.

“We have a solid core of really strong runners, but there’s no one really who is left in the dust,” Schneider said. “I think we all did well today. … It looks good for the rest of the season.”

What is the best way to characterize this Mattituck team?

“I would describe Mattituck as a family,” Hamilton said. “We come together when times are hard. We have to stay together.”

As Hansen and a few others approached the team bus for the ride home on Saturday, it was clear that the togetherness was still there. More cheers emanated from the vehicle. The Tuckers had a lot to cheer about.

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