Big turnouts of track and field athletes, in and of themselves, aren’t particularly unusual for Mattituck. The trick, of course, is for the Tuckers to retain those athletes throughout the course of the season. For example, over 50 athletes came out for the team last year, coach Pete Hansen recalled, only to drop to around 38 as the season progressed.
As of Monday, Mattituck had 51 names on its roster, and Hansen said he expects the roster to remain close to that number.
“I feel like this year everyone’s always locked in and focused,” said Hansen, who is in his third year as Mattituck’s coach. “… I feel that we have a plan and the kids have a plan, too.”
Hansen hopes the Tuckers improve upon the three dual-meet wins they recorded last year. Two athletes who will help are Darius Brew and Sal Loverde, who both had good seasons in 2012, reaching the Section XI Individual Championships/state qualifier.
Brew, a freshman, cleared the opening height of 5 feet 6 inches and finished in a seven-way tie for 14th place in the high jump in that meet. Hansen said Brew has high jumped as high as 5-11.
Loverde, a junior whose personal record in the discus is 121 feet, made a throw of 109-7 in the state qualifier, leaving him 20th. It was his first year in the event.
Anthony Howell (1,600 meters), Chris Mehalakes (800), Mario Arreola (100, 200) and Tomasz Filipkowski (sprints, middle distances) can put up points. Others expected to contribute are: Chris Wahlers (hurdles), Jack Dufton (800 and 1,600), Damiko Jones (hurdles, sprints), Oscar Puluc (400), Ian Husak (hurdles) and Dan Fedun (pentathlon).
“We got a couple of kids who changed sports,” Hansen said. “We got guys who never ran before who just came out, well-known athletes in the town. For me, we’re like hitting the perfect storm. We got a couple of guys that have been the core of the team. They’ve been with me for a couple of years. They work hard. Then we got some new guys who will add talent, and we have some veteran kids. A lot of things are working for me this year.”
“I feel like the kids are ready to go,” he continued. “I really do.”
For the second year in a row, the Tuckers will not have any home meets on their cinder track in Mattituck.
Like the Tuckers, Greenport will run all of its dual meets on the road, just like it did last year when the Porters put together a track team for the first time in at least two decades. But there is a difference. Unlike last year, when Greenport followed the same schedule as Mattituck, the Porters have their own schedule this season.
“Last year, although we were two separate teams, it felt like one team,” said coach Jack Martilotta.
Martilotta is looking to sophomore Ryan Weingart (100, 200), junior Codey Fisher (discus, shot put) and three freshmen — Justin Bracken (sprints), Bayron Rivas (high jump, sprints) and Nick Wallace (jumps) — to lead the way.
“The younger freshmen we have, they’re good,” Martilotta said. “I think we have some talent in the sprints. We have some talent in the [long] distance. We got a couple of kids looking good in the field events.”
The one complaint Martilotta had, though, about the early practices was beyond his or anybody else’s control: the weather. He said, “One of the problems that we’re working against right now is the weather has been terrible.”