WESTHAMPTON BEACH INVITATIONAL
Desirae Hubbard has a lot going for her. The Mattituck High School sophomore is not only a fast runner and charismatic, but she has a lot of friends, not to mention what amounts to her own cheering section at track and field meets.
They can be heard shouting out Hubbard’s name in encouragement as the sprinter flies down the track toward the finish line. “When she’s coming down the straightaway, we’re all screaming as loud as we can,” said teammate Larissa Catullo.
Hubbard has surely given her friends and teammates plenty to shout about this season. In her second varsity season, Hubbard is not only Mattituck’s top sprinter, but she has convinced her coach, Jean Mahoney, that she can go as far as her legs and heart take her.
“I think her potential is unlimited,” Mahoney said. “It depends on how far she wants to go. I really think that she could do whatever she wants. It’s up to her.”
Hubbard wanted to win in the Westhampton Beach Invitational on Saturday and it showed. She said she had “no idea” what her chances were in the novice 100 meters. “I was really nervous,” she said.
As it turned out, she had no need to be. Hubbard flew to a first-place finish in 13.69 seconds. The next fastest time was the 13.75 clocked by Rocky Point sophomore Dana Daquila.
Hubbard, who started the season with a pulled calf muscle, said she reaggravated the calf later in the day while running the open 200. Nonetheless, she still took seventh place in that event in 28.12.
“She had a good day, she really did,” said Mahoney.
Hubbard’s best times in the 100 and 200 are hand-held times of 13.0 and 28.0. While the Tuckers like the way Hubbard has finished some races, Mahoney sees room for improvement in Hubbard’s starts. The coach believes there is some time that can be cut off there, and Hubbard acknowledges the same.
“One of the things I want to focus on is her starts,” Mahoney said. “We still need to work on that, and that will take some time.”
Mattituck recently finished the Suffolk County League VII dual-meet season with a 4-3 record. Mahoney equated this season for her team to Saturday’s odd weather, which alternated between cool and warm as the sun poked its gaze from behind the clouds every now and then. “Hot and cold,” she said.
But the weather seemed to suit Catullo just fine. The sophomore turned in her personal-best time in the novice 100-meter high hurdles, 20.89, bringing her seventh place. Her teammate, Autumn Harris, was 13th in 23.03.
Carly Batist of Mattituck ended up 13th in the novice 800 in 2:51.99. A teammate, Rachel Winkler, was 10 places behind her in 3:02.12.
Two Tuckers competed in the novice 1,500-meter race walk. Jackie Imbriano was 13th in 10:00.37, and Pam Batist finished 18th in 10:10.43.
But, clearly, Hubbard was Mattituck’s performer of the day.
Perhaps Hubbard was destined to become a track athlete. “It kind of runs in my family,” she said, alluding to her father and an uncle who both competed in the sport.
Hubbard ran at the junior high school level as a seventh-grader and an eighth-grader before joining the varsity team last year. Over the years, she said, she has learned not to give up on herself. She seems to have the determination to run faster that top sprinters have. “I always think I can do better,” she said.
Catullo said Hubbard serves as a good role model for others on the team.
“She is phenomenal, and she’s great to have on our team,” Catullo said, “and it’s exciting to have someone that good.”
What does Hubbard like best about track and field? Well, that’s a silly question.
“Winning,” she said with a smile.