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Girls Winter Track: Mattituck relay team races to league title

Before Bella Masotti had even been handed the baton for the second leg of the 4×200-meter relay, she had already handled quite a workload in the Suffolk County League V Championships Sunday. The Mattituck High School freshman was tired after competing in the 55- and 300-meter events earlier, but they may have served as a good warmup for her.

“I think it’s because it was to the point I was so tired that I couldn’t feel my legs, so I could go as fast as I wanted,” Masotti explained. “I felt amazing. My legs were still like tired, but that carried me to go faster.”

After grabbing the handoff from freshman Nikki Searles, Masotti burst past two runners within her first 50 meters to take a lead Mattituck never gave up. Junior Miranda Annunziata protected that lead and then senior Meg Dinizio finished off the victory in a season-best time of 1 minute, 52.93 seconds at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.

The sight of Dinizio crossing the finish line first was an emotional one for Searles. “It was just pure joy,” she said. “I was so happy, I was jumping up and down.”

Mattituck held off Elwood/John Glenn, which was second in 1:53.87.

Dinizio said the league title was validation of the relay team’s work this season. “It was the first time all season where I was actually shaking before I got the baton,” she said. “It was intense, but it’s a good intense.”

Earlier in the meet, Masotti sped to second place in the 55 in 7.92 seconds. Glenn senior Stephanie Tsangaris won in 7.68.

Masotti said she likes running the 55 because the race goes so fast that there just isn’t time to think — or get nervous. “The nerves are completely gone when I’m running,” said Masotti, who also came in fourth in the 300 in 44.67.

Mattituck also picked up fourth-place finishes from sophomore Payton Maddaloni in the 600 (1:50.15) and senior Jaime Gaffga in the long jump (15 feet, 8 1/2 inches).

“My mindset was on consistency, consistency, consistency, trying to make sure that I have a good pace set up so I have enough left for the end because I’m one who likes to make up time, not sustain,” said Maddaloni.

Maddaloni, accustomed to running longer distances, had asked coach Chris Robinson to let her give the 600 a try for the first time this season. She said: “I wanted to try something different because I’m so used to a long-distance run that I thought this would be a little more fun and when I crossed the finish line after the first race I was like, ‘Wow, this is a lot of fun.’ So, I kept on doing it because sprinting gives me more of an adrenaline rush.”

Greenport/Southold senior Blayr Corazzini undoubtedly felt a rush after finishing fourth in the 1,500-meter race walk in a personal-best 8:54.32.

“Outstanding performance,” Greenport coach Mike Gunther said. “It was the performance of the day for us … She followed the race plan to a T and she put her heart on the track.”

Corazzini, who passed two walkers in the last 180 meters, said she surpassed her expectations. “I did not think I could go that fast,” she said. “My whole body just hurts after. You feel good once the pain goes away.”

Mount Sinai won the team title with 131 points. Mattituck was fifth with 30 and Greenport ninth with four.

It was a day Mattituck’s 4×200 relay team will not forget.

“I’m so happy I almost want to cry,” Searles said. “It’s the best we’ve ever done and I think we all ran our best today.”

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Photo caption: Bella Masotti takes the handoff from Nikki Searles for the second leg of Mattituck’s triumphant 4×200-meter relay team. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)