The place was nice, yet as impressive as that was, it was the time that really mattered to the members of the Southold/Greenport 4×200-meter relay team.
That’s what Southold junior Jackson Wile had his eyes on when the numbers were flashed on the scoreboard in the Suffolk County League V Championships Saturday morning at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. “I was just looking at the time, not the place,” he said.
The time was good: 1 minute and 43.99 seconds. It was a season-best clocking by junior Kenny Latham, Wile, senior Miguel Torres and senior Dante Tramontana.
“Obviously, it’s really exciting,” Latham said. “We’ve been putting in a lot of work and getting a lot faster.”
Babylon’s Lucas Parise, Josiah Morris, Antonio Tufano and Evan Parise were the only ones to finish ahead of them, clocking 1:41.02. Elwood/John Glenn was third in 1:48.43.
“Every week we’re looking not just to win, but to better our time,” Tramontana said. “It’s great because we’re running against some pretty good teams.”
Now the First Settlers have their eyes set on trimming that time down to 1:41. Torres said, “You’re always looking to improve.”
Another Settler, Max Pasko, wasn’t entirely thrilled with his time of 6.87 seconds in the 55-meter dash, but it was good enough to bring him third place. The Southold junior finished behind Southampton senior Luke Rey (6.71 seconds) and Babylon junior Evan Parise (6.86).
“It’s not what I was planning for,” said Pasko, whose personal-best time is 6.83. “I wanted to hit 6.6, 6.7.”
This is Pasko’s second season competing in the 55. Last season, Southold coach Karl Himmelmann said, Pasko had to contend with Piriformis syndrome, a condition that causes compression of the sciatic nerve.
Pasko, a student of sprinting, has been specializing this season in the 55, an event in which every millisecond counts and subtle changes can make a big difference. That’s actually one of the attractions to the event for him.
“I like it because it’s all about perfection,” Pasko said. “Everything has to be perfect.”
Right now, Pasko said, his mechanics aren’t perfect, but he’s working on it.
“He’s constantly analyzing every single run he does,” Himmelmann said, adding: “He’s a very intelligent athlete. I give him a lot of credit. He does the work and then some.”
Pasko sounded confident that work will bring him lower times. He said, “I just think it’s going to get a lot better from here.”
Mattituck had a pair of third-place finishers in long-distance runner Christian Demchak and high jumper Joshua Starzee.
Demchak’s busy morning began with a nice showing in the 3,200. The 6-4 senior, who looks the part of a long-distance runner, was timed in 10:44.49, behind Mount Sinai senior Sean Higgins (10:22.65) and Port Jefferson sophomore Grant Samara (10:27.08).
“It was a good race because I kept up the pace,” said Demchak, who led for the first 2,000 meters. “I didn’t want to push the pace.”
Mattituck’s new coach, Mike Kollmer, said Demchak is a “phenomenal athlete. Just his endurance, his strength is amazing.”
Demchak was also fourth in the 1,600 in 4:57.97 (Port Jefferson sophomore Cooper Schoch won in 4:47.04) and ran for Mattituck’s fifth-place 4×800 relay team (9:55.41).
Starzee sounded almost surprised himself that he wasn’t entirely content with his third-place finish in the high jump. The junior cleared 5 feet, 4 inches.
“I didn’t feel too good, honestly,” he said. “You’d think I’d feel good about third place. There was such a big difference between second and third.”
Mount Sinai junior Justin Wei won at 5-8, with Hampton Bays junior Jack Gilbert taking second at 5-6.
Then again, Starzee could be grateful to have done as well as he did, considering he has been dealing with shin splints for much of the season.
“When the season just started, I set a new [personal record],” he said. “I was doing good. I was feeling it.”
Then the shin splints set in, causing complications, particularly for his left takeoff leg.
Kollmer said Starzee is a diligent worker. “He’s not one just to sit around and just get better at practice,” the coach said. “He does a lot outside of practice.”
Photo caption: The Southold/Greenport 4×200-meter relay team clocked a season-best time of 1 minute and 43.99 seconds to take second place in the League V Championships. From left: Kenny Latham, Jackson Wile, Miguel Torres and Dante Tramontana. (Courtesy photo, Karl Himmelmann)