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Boys Winter Track Preview: Tuckers hit the ground running

This is Mattituck’s third season of high school boys winter track, and the addition of the program to its slate of cross country in the fall and track and field in the spring is beginning to bear fruit.

By coach Karl Himmelmann’s count, only four of the team’s 25 athletes are newcomers to the indoor season. Some ran cross country and many ran track outdoors this past spring.

“I think that’s the nice thing you get from winter track,” Himmelmann said. “That’s one of the arguments we made years ago when we were trying to get this program going. That’s what the better schools have. They have that cross-country program that goes right into winter and runs into spring, and it builds the culture of a school that has a strong running program and a strong track program when you have all three of those seasons.”

Mattituck has two All-League performers in junior Christian Demchak in the 3,200 meters (his personal-best time is 10 minutes, 43 seconds) and senior Jason Scalia in the high jump (his personal record is 5 feet, 4 inches).

Demchak is coming off a strong cross-country season in which he ran in the state meet.

“Christian responds well to pressure,” Himmelmann said. “He’s not one that doesn’t rise to the occasion.”

As for Scalia, Himmelmann called him “an all-around really great athlete. He’s a leader on this team. The other boys respect him and look up to him, and he’s somebody that I can always count on.”

Another senior, Stephen Nyilas, can throw the shot put about 43 feet and will also run the 1,000.

In long-distance events, Mattituck has sophomore Joseph Corso and senior Connor Smith, who are both slotted in at the 1,600 and 3,200. Corso will also run for the 4×800 relay team.

Alex Bellavia, a senior in his first winter season who ran last spring, will handle the 55-meter hurdles and the 55.

Also among the team’s 11 seniors are: Liam Corbley, Cavan Gardner, Mauricio Moran, Dennis O’Rourke, Riley Peterson, Peter Pugliese and Thomas Sullivan.

“They’re committed and they know how to have fun, but they also know when to work,” Himmelmann said. “That’s the kind of attitude I want to see them have. I want to see them committed to getting better, but I also want to see them enjoying the sport as well.”

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Photo caption: Stephen Nyilas, left, and Jason Scalia are seniors on a Mattituck team that has virtually all returning athletes. (Credit: Bob Liepa)