Girls Winter Track: Ailing heel doesn’t stop Russell

Coming off her magical double triumph in the high jump and shot put at the League V girls winter track championships, Emily Russell was asked if she thought Saturday would be her day in the Section XI small school team championships.

“No, I didn’t,” the Southold/Greenport senior answered rather matter-of-factly.

For good reason, as it turns out. Russell said the past few days she had been dealing with plantar fasciitis in her left heel, her takeoff foot when she does the high jump. It was bad enough that she took only three jumps in Friday’s practice, clearing no higher than 4 feet, 6 inches.

Not the ideal preparation for Saturday’s county meet at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.

No matter. Russell said she really wasn’t affected by the plantar fasciitis in the shot put, which she took second place in with a personal-record throw of 34-7 1/2. As for the high jump, she didn’t do too badly in that, either, placing fourth at 4-11.

“It’s always difficult when you’re in a very high-level competition like she was today, and when you feel like you’re not 100 percent for whatever reason, it’s tough to work through that,” Southold coach Karl Himmelmann said. “I’m so proud of her. I think she toughed it out. She had really solid looking jumps at 4-10 and 4-11.”

Russell’s first shot-put throw of the day was her best. It easily surpassed her previous career-best throw of 32-8.

“It was my first throw, so I was pumped,” she said. “It was really great for me … The first thing I said after I threw the 34-7 was, ‘I can’t believe that happened.’ I still can’t get over it.”

The only girl who threw further was Rocky Point sophomore Brook Pohl (35-2 1/4).

“And she’s still got more in the tank,” Southold’s throwing coach, Bill Hiney, said of Russell.

Russell’s ailing heel, which she iced between jumps, was more of an issue in the high jump.

“I guess the adrenaline pumping helped,” she said. “It hurts a lot, but I did ice it … just to numb it while I was jumping.”

Russell finished behind Bayport-Blue Point freshman Leeann Redlo (5-1), Miller Place sophomore Angie Guevara (5-0) and Westhampton Beach junior Kathleen Kelly (4-11).

At the league meet, which was also held in Brentwood, Russell equalled a personal-best height of 5-0 in the high jump and threw the shot put 32-4.

Himmelman said Russell has had a “spectacular winter season. She’s ranked top five in the high jump in the county. She’s top 10 now in the shot put … She’s a fighter. She wants to continually improve every week.”

Season-best time for relay team. Mattituck’s 4×200 relay team saved its best for last.

In the relay team’s final race of the season, the foursome of sophomore Nikki Searles, senior Miranda Annunziata, junior Claire Gatz and sophomore Bella Masotti clocked a season-best time of 1 minute, 52.91 seconds, bringing them seventh place and clipping a second off their previous best time of the season. Half Hollow Hills West was first in 1:46.14.

“We knew it was going to be our last race” of the season, Masotti said. “We wanted to go full out.”

The Tuckers had an hour to warm up for the race, and that helped. “I think the warmup was a major part of it,” Searles said. She said the time “was very well-earned on our part since we were working toward it all season.”

Mattituck’s only two points in the meet, however, came from eighth-grader Ava Vaccarella with her fifth-place run in the 3,000 in 10:45.79.

In the 1,500, Mattituck junior Payton Maddaloni was 17th in 5:34.13.

The team title went to Mount Sinai (79 points). Southold (12) was 12th and Mattituck (two) 19th.

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Photo caption: Emily Russell’s personal-record throw of 34-7 1/2 brought the Southold/Greenport senior second place in the shot put. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)