When the topic is Melanie Pfennig, the Mattituck High School girls winter track coach, Chris Robinson, doesn’t spare the praise. And it’s high praise, indeed.
Discussing the season Pfennig has had, Robinson said: “She had some setbacks this year, but she just pushed through and she’s a fighter. She is one of the toughest athletes I’ve ever been around. Oh yeah. There’s no quit in her.”
Coming off a long cross-country season that ended in the state meet, Pfennig has had to deal with injury and illness this winter season, but it hasn’t stopped her. The senior made her way to the Section XI indoor state qualifier Monday night, which could have been considered an achievement in itself.
It was there, though, on the track at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood where Pfennig found herself in a competitive 3,000-meter race. Shoreham-Wading River’s standout junior, Katherine Lee, was injured and watched from the side, but the field still included the likes of Connetquot senior Kelly Iocca, Walt Whitman senior Shelbi Wuss and Mount Sinai freshman Sarah Connelly. Those three finished first, second and third, respectively. Iocca’s winning time was 10 minutes, 22.73 seconds.
Pfennig was at the back of the 11-runner pack for virtually the entire race and finished last. Her time was 11:03.68.
“I wasn’t pleased with my performance because I haven’t really been running how I should be running lately,” Pfennig said after her final indoor race in a Mattituck uniform. “I found I’ve been feeling down, not myself. So, it’s really kind of a disappointment to me not really knowing what’s wrong, to be running times not close to what I should be running.”
When asked how Pfennig’s time was, Robinson answered: “Not her best. I mean, she expects a lot of herself and that’s just a credit to who she is as an athlete. I have no concerns on how she’ll be in the spring. I know she’ll dominate like she always does.”
Pfennig’s best indoor time in the 3,000 is 10:48.05.
Robinson said no one works harder than Pfennig “on a consistent basis.” All of that work may have taken a toll, given that she followed up a long cross-country season with a long indoor season.
“She battled through all that and she’s at a point now where she’s feeling good, but she could use some rest,” Robinson said. “Your body says at some point, alright, I need a little bit of a break.”
After thinking the matter over, Pfennig said, “Maybe I just need rest.”
Photo caption: Mattituck senior Melanie Pfennig being interviewed following her final indoor race for the Tuckers. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)