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Girls Track and Field Preview: Tuckers expect another strong 4×100 relay

It’s a good bet that the Mattituck High School girls track and field team will once again have a strong 4×100-meter relay team. The only question is: Who will be the fourth member of that team?

Last year Nikki Searles, Bella Masotti, Miranda Annunziata and Meg Dinizio ran their way to the New York State championships. They missed qualifying for the final by a mere 0.25 seconds, turning in a time of 51.15 seconds that brought them ninth place overall in Division II and seventh among public schools. The foursome had run a season-best 50.56 in the Section XI Championships preliminaries seven days earlier.

Searles and Masotti, both sophomores, return along with Annunziata, a senior, but the Tuckers need to fill the leg vacated by Dinizio’s graduation. Junior Kelsey Bundrick, freshman Emily Nicholson, senior Katie Parks and senior Abby Heffernan, an alternate on the relay team last year, are all in the running for that spot.

Defending League VIII champion Mattituck (6-0) is coming off its third straight league championship and eighth overall. The Tuckers have won 15 successive dual meets.

“It now becomes something that each team strives for and now it’s become more of a tradition,” coach Chris Robinson said of the string of titles.

Mattituck has some nice talent in the likes of senior Amber Rochon (triple jump, long jump), junior Sarah Santacroce (discus, triple jump), senior Gabby Dwyer (triple jump), senior Mikayla Osmer (high jump, shot put), senior Julia Schimpf (100 meters, shot put, discus), senior Liv Schutte (800, 400 intermediate hurdles), senior Mia Slovak (triple jump, 400), senior Courtney Trzcinski (hurdles), junior Jordan Osler (pentathlon, triple jump, long jump, pole vault) and eighth-grader Ava Vaccarella (3,000).

“I think we look good,” Robinson said. “I think we have a lot of depth in a lot of different events. We’re young. I think we have a lot of ninth-graders that have to contribute early. I think we have a good mix of athletes and when we’re on the same page, I think we’ll find success.”

It’s probably a good thing that athletes are limited to competing in no more than four events at a meet. Otherwise, who knows how many events senior Emily Russell would compete in?

“She wants to do everything,” said Southold/Greenport coach Karl Himmelmann.

And Russell has the athleticism to do well in just about anything.

“Honestly, she’s just one of those students where she shines on the track,” Himmelmann said. “Pretty much any event you put her in, she thrives, she excels.”

The high jump and shot put may be Russell’s best events, but she’s also a natural for the pentathlon.

Russell was second last year in the Suffolk Division III high jump, clearing 5 feet. She was 14th in the Section XI Championships at 4-10.

Southold has two strong hurdlers in senior Marie Mullen and junior Kathryn Kilcommons. “They’re definitely going to be scorers for us throughout the season,” said Himmelmann.

Junior Olivia Lynch will run long-distance events.

The League VIII title could be decided May 2 when Southold hosts Mattituck. Greenport/Southold, as it was known last year, was the League VIII runner-up at 5-1.

“The key to a successful season for me is seeing kids improving from week to week … and staying healthy,” Himmelmann said. “If you put those pieces together, you’re going to have a successful season.”

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Photo caption: Bella Masotti is one of three returning runners from Mattituck’s strong 4×100 relay team of last season. (Credit: Bob Liepa, file)