Home is where the track is.
The Southold/Greenport boys and girls track and field teams love their new track. It’s the right track for them, and that’s how they started their seasons Tuesday — on the right track.
Both teams felt right at home as they opened with one-sided wins over Shelter Island in League VIII meets held concurrently at Southold High School’s new track. The Southold boys won, 106-32, and the girls romped, 110-14, in the first meet Southold has ever hosted.
Shelter Island is the smallest track school in Suffolk County. Southold is the third smallest.
“It was special,” said Southold junior Jorge Torrento, who won in the 100 meters (11.7 seconds), 200 (24.7) and joined Adam Hubbard, Dante Tramontana and Kenny Latham on a first-place 4×100 relay team (48.81). “Everyone just came out and supported us. We never really had this experience. It just felt nice.”
Southold senior Miguel Torres has been on the team since he was an eighth-grader, but had never known what a home meet was like — until Tuesday. “It was awesome,” he said. “You felt the energy from the crowd and from the team all day.”
Torres took first in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 1:06.8 and ran on the winning 4×400 relay team that included Reese Costello, Isaiah Mraz and Jackson Rung-Wile. They won in 4:12.7.
Karl Himmelmann, the coach of Southold’s boys and girls teams, said his athletes appreciated the historical significance of the meet. “Throughout the day I had a number of athletes who came up to me and just said how psyched they were,” he said. “I think the word they used was ‘lit’ to have a home meet. They definitely felt the energy of having the crowd here and being on their home turf, or track.”
Rung-Wile, who was first in the long jump at 19 feet, 1 1/2 inches, said: “This was a great way to start it off. I think we did a lot better than we thought we would. I think we kind of surprised ourselves.”
Shelter Island had star long-distance runner Kal Lewis, but Southold had the numbers. The First Settlers were without the services of their standout sprinter, Max Pasko, who didn’t run because of hamstring trouble.
No matter. Others filled in.
“The nice thing is … we have depth,” said Himmelmann.
Kevin Azama brought Southold first in both the high jump (5-6) and triple jump (40-1/2). Teammate Emmett Moloney was a double winner as well, throwing the discus 83-11 and the shot put 34-7 1/2. Southold’s Sean McHugh pole vaulted 8-0 to win that event. Latham took top honors in the 110-meter high hurdles in 17.7. Southold’s 4×800 relay team of Connor Kilcommons, McHugh, James Hoyt and Jaxan Swann won in 9:46.41.
On the girls side, senior Marie Mullen had a fabulous day with victories in the 100 high hurdles (17.5) and 100 (14.0), both personal records. “You just go out and work your hardest, and the results come,” said Mullen, who also led off the winning 4×100 relay team. Courtney Cocheo, Briann Suskevich and Haley Skrezec also ran for that team, which clocked 57.6.
The Southold girls had three other double winners: Kathryn Kilcommons (1:15.4 in the 400 hurdles and 29.6 in the 200), Olivia Lynch (5:33.2 in the 1,500 and 12:20.8 in the 3,000) and Emily Russell (14-6 in the long jump and 4-11 in the high jump).
The other Southold winners were Emiliann Palermo in the 1,500 walk (11:57.4), Cocheo in the triple jump (31-2 1/4), Andrea Mena-Ochoa in the discus (67-5), Gabby Touissant in the shot put (22-6 1/2) and the 4×400 relay team (5:01.5). Kilcommons, Lynch, Sydney Heidtmann and Russell teamed up for the relay victory.
“When you’re doing a meet for the first time, you don’t know what to expect,” Mullen said. “… Everyone really came through.”
After the meet, Southold athletic director Steve Flanagan applauded the First Settlers and then congratulated them. Himmelmann then addressed his athletes, telling them “I am beyond proud of what you did today.”
Then, in light-hearted fashion, he told the individual event winners that they all hold track records now.
“It’s really just an amazing experience,” Mullen said. “I’ve never had [a] crowd like this. It just feels like home and it feels great to run here.”
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport’s Kevin Azama cleared 5 feet, 6 inches to finish first in the high jump. He also won in the triple jump at 40-1/2. (Credit: Bob Liepa)