Sure, the Section XI boys track and field division championships are going to see favorites triumph, as expected, but there can also be some surprises, some unforeseen developments.
Among those on Wednesday were third-place finishes by Mattituck junior Stephen Nyilas and Greenport/Southold sophomore Mateo Arias, both first-timers in challenging events.
Nyilas, competing in his first pentathlon, finished third among 11 pentathletes in the Division III standings with 2,513 points.
Nyilas said that before the two-day meet, which started Monday in the rain at Comsewogue High School, he thought he would finish “dead last, just hearing what other people were doing. I finished third, which is awesome.”
Babylon junior Vladislav Cullinane was the top point-getter with 2,670. Hampton Bays senior Jesse Haynes was second with 2,648.
Mattituck coach Karl Himmelmann delivered the news to Nyilas that he ended up third. “I think I saw a smile,” said Himmelmann.
Nyilas finished strong Wednesday in the pentathlon’s final two events. He was third in both the long jump (19 feet, 4 3/4 inches) and the 1,500 (5 minutes, 1.28 seconds), which are both personal records. “The last hundred meters [of the 1,500] I just kicked it,” he said. “I gave it everything I got.”
Nyilas had started the day in third place by virtue of his showing on Monday. He was first in the shot put (35-11 1/2), fifth in the high jump (5-2 1/4) and sixth in the 110-meter high hurdles in 19.35 seconds. That shot put throw was a personal record as well.
Among those in attendance Wednesday was Jack Dufton, the holder of Mattituck’s school record (3,182 points) who graduated last year and now competes for Amherst College in Massachusetts.
“He was cheering me on,” Nyilas said. “I appreciated that.”
Himmelmann said he was “thrilled” by Nyilas’ performance.
What makes Nyilas a good pentathlete?
“He’s disciplined,” Himmelmann said. “You have to be disciplined to be in this event. Each event requires its own unique set of abilities and the practice routines for each event are completely different.”
Nyilas seems to have enjoyed the experience.
“I think just coming up here and competing gives you a sort of rush,” he said. “It was awesome.”
Greenport had a feel-good story itself. Arias, competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the first time, took third in Division III. That was two places higher than where he expected to finish.
“I tried to work on pacing and to not jump into the [water] and to keep up with the consistency of each lap,” said Arias, who was timed in 10:53.16. Two seniors grabbed the first two spots — Westhampton Beach’s Jack Ryan (10:07.68) and Sayville’s Luke Hession (10:47.71).
Arias ran one 2,000-meter steeplechase race last year.
What makes Arias a good fit for the steeplechase?
“Mental toughness,” coach Nick Fioretti said. “I knew he was mentally tough, but it’s such a grueling event.”
Asked how his technique was, Arias replied: “Not very good. I could still work on some stuff.”
Mattituck senior Dan Harkin ran his fastest time ever in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, 59.90, and it brought him fourth place. Another Mattituck senior, Carter Montgomery, was sixth in the shot put with a throw of 44-3 3/4.
Photo caption: Greenport/Southold sophomore Mateo Arias made a splash, taking third place in his first 3,000-meter steeplechase. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)