The unusual opportunity afforded to the new Mattituck High School girls winter track team was outlined by its coach, Chris Robinson, before its first official competition. Prior to the crossover meet at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Dec. 5, Robinson told his athletes that there were going to be a lot of school records set that day.
It was the start of something new. A new beginning. A new team, the first girls winter track team in school history.
“It’s a cool feeling,” said Robinson, who had never coached winter track before. “I think that the kids are excited about it. The school is excited about it.”
Like the school’s new all-weather outdoor track, the winter team should benefit the spring track team.
A core of spring track athletes form the winter team along with a mix of athletes from other sports such as Mattituck’s successful cross-country and lacrosse teams.
“We have a very diverse group and every girl is good in different areas,” said junior Melanie Pfennig.
Pfennig competes in the 3,000 meters, the 4×800 relay and possibly the 1,500.
“Obviously, when she steps on the track, she’s a tremendous competitor and she does what she needs to do to find success, so I don’t expect anything less,” said Robinson.
Meg Dinizio, a sophomore sprinter, and Sam Husak, a junior high jumper, both competed in the state meet last spring. Amy Macaluso, a junior sprinter, handles the 55 meters, the 55-meter hurdles and 4×200 relay.
If there was a surprise to Robinson, it might have been eighth grader Payton Maddaloni, a long-distance runner inherited from the cross-country team.
“I didn’t know much about Payton,” said Robinson, who oversees a roster of 23 athletes.
Two cross-country runners, Audrey Hoeg and Mia Vasile-Cozzo, are among the team’s four seniors, along with Christina Hatzinikolaou and Miranda Sannino.
“I just think that we’re going to do great things this year,” said Pfennig.
The first competition was a good start. Robinson liked what he saw. Husak’s high jump of 4 feet 8 inches was only 2 inches shy of her personal record. Robinson said Maddaloni ran “an unbelievable 3,000,” clocking a time of 11 minutes 21.11 seconds. Dinizio (8.13 in the 55 meters), Hoeg (1:53 in the 600) and Sascha Rosin (3:31 in the 1,000) also turned in commendable performances.
“A lot of us didn’t know what we were going to go and do because we had never been to a winter meet before,” said Husak. She continued: “I think we did really well. I think we came out strong, and we’ll just get better throughout the season.”
That is Robinson’s hope.
Robinson said he has learned that his athletes are resilient and capable of picking up things on the fly.
“It’s a new thing for everybody, even myself,” he said. “A lot of these kids never did anything like that before in their lives and they were able to kind of tackle that, and we had some great numbers and some kids did some great things, so it was impressive.”
He added: “The girls are up for the challenge. I’m up for the challenge.”
Photo caption: Melanie Pfennig will compete in the 3,000 meters, the 4×800 relay and possibly the 1,500 for Mattituck’s new girls winter track team. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)