The race for the Suffolk County League VIII girls track and field championship may be decided right out of the starting blocks.
That was the case last year when Bishop McGann-Mercy defeated Mattituck, 82-59, in the first dual meet of the season for the Tuckers on their new track. McGann-Mercy went on to capture the league title with a 6-0 record while Mattituck had to settle for second place at 5-1.
“Bittersweet” was how Mattituck coach Chris Robinson described it. “I think we obviously enjoyed having a successful season,” he said. “We also wish that we could have the Mercy one back.”
Well, in a sense, the Tuckers will get another chance at the Monarchs. Once again Mattituck will open the season against the Monarchs, this time on McGann-Mercy’s track in Riverhead on April 4.
“That’s a big one for us,” said Robinson.
One thing Mattituck has going for it is numbers. Robinson said he has 44 girls on the team.
When asked if he has athletes to cover all the events, he smiled and answered: “We have fourty-four girls. I think we’re going to be all right.”
Among the 44 are sophomore Meg Dinizio and junior Sam Husak, who both competed in the state meet for the first time last year. Dinizio sliced a half-second off her personal record in the 100 meters to clock 13.37 seconds, bringing her 18th place in the state meet. Husak cleared 4 feet 9 inches and was 32nd in the high jump in the meet at the University of Albany.
A familiar face is also back running the 800 meters, the 1,500 and the 4×800 relay — junior Melanie Pfennig, who is coming off a strong indoor season, Mattituck’s first. It is Pfennig’s fourth year on the outdoor team, and Robinson said, “Mel looks great.”
Alya Ayoub, a junior, will compete in the long jump, the 100 and the 4×100 relay.
Mattituck has some good long-distance runners in eighth-grader Payton Maddaloni and junior Sascha Rosin.
Also expected to help out are seniors Christina Hatzinikalaou (100-meter high hurdles, 400-meter intermediate hurdles), Miranda Sannino (discus, shot put), Sarah Goerler (400, 4×400 relay), Emily Gatz (1,500-meter racewalk) and Taylor Berkoski (high jump, 200).
Robinson expects the league title to once again come down to his team and McGann-Mercy.
“I think our girls are motivated for that,” he said. “They want to win, and I think they understand what it takes to do that. We’re working hard here on the track and hopefully it translates into the meets.”
Greenport/Southold coach Mike Gunther did not return phone messages before the deadline. The Clippers went 2-5 last year.
Photo caption: Mattituck junior Melanie Pfennig is running into her fourth spring season with the Tuckers. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)