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Girls Winter Track: Russell’s a double winner in league meet

Sunday didn’t start off promisingly for Emily Russell. She missed the Southold/Greenport girls winter track team’s bus for the Suffolk County League V Championships. What next, she may have thought.

“I thought it was going to be a terrible day,” she said.

Well, a terrible day turned into a great day. Russell’s parents, Sondra and David, drove her to Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood for the meet and got to see their daughter win league titles in both the high jump and shot put.

Not a bad day after all.

After the senior turned in a winning high jump of 5 feet, she leaped for joy and high-fived coach Karl Himmelmann and assistant coach Bill Hiney. The 5-0 equalled a personal-best height for her.

“I love that about her because she’s a very quiet girl,” Hiney said. “But it came bursting out.”

Russell failed in her three attempts at 5-1.

“That would have been really cool if I got to 5-2, but I’m still ecstatic,” she said. “I started crying.”

But there was more for Russell, who competed in the high jump and shot put simultaneously. Her throw of 32-4 brought her the shot put title as well. It was four inches off her personal record and better than the 30-7 turned in by Babylon junior Madison Baudille.

“I definitely prepared a lot in the shot put,” Russell said. “In the high jump, I was kind of at a plateau at 5 feet. It’s so close to jump that extra inch.”

Hiney, who works with Russell in the field events, said: “You can’t teach some things. She’s athletic. I can’t teach strong, either. She’s just a well-rounded athlete.”

Russell has height in her favor. She’s 5-9 1/2 tall. “The half[-inch] counts,” she said.

Especially in the high jump, where every little bit helps. It helped her finish above both Elwood/John Glenn senior Olivia Kelly and Bayport-Blue Point freshman Leeann Redlo, who both made 4-11.

What Russell accomplished is impressive because both events are technically demanding. “I think she’s a 35-foot thrower,” Hiney said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt she’s capable of that.”

Meanwhile, Russell is looking ahead to bigger things down the road. She said, “I can’t wait to jump 5-2.”

When Mattituck sophomore Bella Masotti is determined, there’s no telling what she can do.

A false start in the 55-meter dash cost Masotti a chance to compete in that event. Later, though, she made up for it, finding redemption in the 300. Masotti triumphed in 43.52 seconds, the fastest she has ever run that distance. Her senior teammate Miranda Annunziata was fourth in 45.70.

“My 300 has been getting better every single meet,” Masotti said. “I was just running because I wanted a pr [personal record] really bad.”

But Masotti had more running ahead of her. Shortly after the 300, she was scheduled to run the anchor leg for Mattituck’s 4×200 relay team. She had doubts that she was up to it. “I was like, ‘I can’t do this,’ ” she said.

Annunziata convinced her otherwise. After vomiting three times, Masotti ran the relay, passing several runners on her leg to help the Tuckers take second place in 1:54.71. The first three legs were run by Nikki Searles, Annunziata and junior Kelsey Bundrick.

Mattituck was nipped at the finish line by 29/100ths of a second by Bayport. The Bayport team consisted of senior Madison Delzell, senior Melody Delzell, junior Hannah Fiorentine and sophomore Savanna Brady.

“I think she had a little extra adrenaline in her because of what happened in the 55,” Mattituck coach Chris Robinson said of Masotti. “She’s been … kind of pushing our team since she was in eighth grade. If you love the sport, you put more into it.”

Mattituck eighth-grader Ava Vaccarella took second place in the 3,000. Vaccarella had separated herself from the pack, except for Mount Sinai junior Sarah Connelly. Connelly won in 10:10.76 to Vaccarella’s 10:48.89.

Vaccarella, who was also fifth in the 1,500 in 5:11.76, said pressure from behind earlier in the race pushed her. “People are behind you pretty close,” she said. “You can hear them breathing.”

In other events:

Southold seniors Marie Mullen (9.94 in the 55-meter hurdles) and Emiliann Palermo (11:25.43 in the 1,500 race walk) were both fifth. Mattituck senior Amber Rochon took fifth in the triple jump at 31-3 1/3. In the 1,000, Mattituck junior Payton Maddaloni (3:29.05) and Mattituck sophomore Kylie Conroy (3:30.76) were sixth and seventh.

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Photo caption: Southold/Greenport senior Emily Russell exchanges double high-fives with coach Karl Himmelmann after finishing first in the high jump in the League V Championships. She also won the shot put competition. (Credit: Bob Liepa)