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Track and Field: Russell’s best shot put brings her fourth

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02/11/2019 7:40 PM |

Emily Russell might have been the only girl who had to hustle back and forth between the high jump and shot put areas Monday night. That didn’t prevent the Southold/Greenport senior from setting a personal record in the shot put, though.

Russell’s final throw of the evening traveled 35 feet, 4 1/2 inches in the Section XI state qualifier at Suffolk County Community College. It wasn’t enough to earn her a place in the state meet, which will be held March 2 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, but it brought her fourth place.

Ward Melville junior Megan Wood produced a winning throw of 38-3. The next two places went to Bay Shore junior Caitlin Christie (37-3 1/2) and Amityville senior Nina Babington (36-1).

Russell and coach Karl Himmelmann both left the arena before they could be interviewed.

Southold’s throwing coach, Bill Hiney, said Russell was “delighted” with her final throw, the best she has ever done.

“She knew it was a big one, but she didn’t know how much,” he said. “To stay focused, my hat’s off to her … It gets a little scary when it comes to championship time because you don’t want her thinking. You want it to be natural.”

Russell took eighth in the high jump at 4-11 before missing at 5-0.

Hiney said Russell started the season throwing the shot put about 28 feet. Her throw Monday night demonstrated the significant progress she has made.

“It speaks to her focus and athleticism,” he said. “These good athletes make me look smart.”

Qualifying for the state meet was a long shot for Mattituck’s Ava Vaccarella. A more realistic goal for the eighth-grader, competing in her first state qualifier, was a personal record in the 3,000 meters.

Vaccarella didn’t get that. Her time of 10 minutes, 57.34 seconds was about 17 seconds off her best time. She finished eighth.

Mount Sinai junior Sarah Connelly was first in 10:06.33.

“It’s a cool experience,” Vaccarella said. “I was going for the pr. I know I didn’t get it, but I felt like I did good.”

Mattituck coach Chris Robinson said: “From Day One to now, there’s no one that gave more effort than Ava. It’s unbelievable, and for an eighth-grader putting in that effort every single meet, it’s impressive. Some of the times that she’s put down this year are extremely impressive.”

Robinson said Vaccarella has done an awful lot of running since August, when she trained for the cross-country season. Asked if she could use a break, she replied, “I don’t think so.”

On the boys side, Southold junior Max Pasko ran the 55-meter dash in 6.93 seconds, failing to qualify for the final.

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