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Girls Track and Field: With Tuckers, winning is in fashion

Thursday was the day of Mattituck High School’s big fashion show, and the school’s girls track and field team was styling.

Then again, that’s usually the case for the Tuckers. Winning is in fashion at Mattituck. With their 94-24 win in Port Jefferson, the Tuckers extended their string of dual-meet victories to 18 over a three-year stretch.

That’s not a bad run for Mattituck (3-0 in Suffolk County League VIII), which is bidding for a fourth straight league championship and ninth overall.

“It’s really impressive,” eighth-grader Ava Vaccarella said. “We just got to keep it going.”

For coach Chris Robinson, other things were foremost on his mind, like performance.

“Honestly, the only time I really think about [the winning streak] is when you bring it up, but it’s nice to hear, but I think we attack each season as a different season,” he said. “It’s nice, I guess, for the papers to write about it and it’s just nice to hear, but that’s not our focus.”

It could be argued that, as good as Mattituck was last year, it has an even more balanced roster this season, even if only for the presence of Vaccarella. This is her first outdoor track season and she has been a fine addition, bolstering the team’s long-distance corps. Vaccarella can be seen as the long-distance version of sophomore Bella Masotti, the team’s rocket-fast sprinter.

“If you can have a quality distance team and mid-distance and short distance, I mean, you’re a happy coach,” Robinson said. “Last year we had to throw some girls into the long distance that probably shouldn’t have been there. But this year, you know, with the addition of Ava, it has been a tremendous help, obviously, for the team, but she is a hard worker and she’s a blessing to have on the team. She brings us points, but her work ethic and her attitude every single day is what, to me at her age, is the best thing that she brings. I mean, her speed is her speed and her times are great, but just the way she comes out and works every single day and as an eighth-grader to do that on a program that’s had success and not being intimidated by that, I think, is her best asset.”

Mattituck’s pride and joy — its 4×100-meter relay team — once again looks good, with an alteration. With the graduation of Meg Dinizio, one of the 4×100 runners who competed in the state meet last year, Emily Nicholson has been brought onto the relay team.

Robinson said: “Emily looks good … I threw her into a lot of the mid-distance, distance stuff last year and I didn’t really know that she had some speed behind her, too, and she showed that this year.”

Masotti was moved to the anchor leg while Nicholson is filling in at Masotti’s previous second-leg position. They are joined by Nikki Searles and Miranda Annunziata.

Robinson wanted to see them break 53 seconds Thursday, and they did just that, clocking a winning time of 52.42 seconds.

How good can the relay team be?

“I feel like once we perfect the handoffs, we’ll be sub-52, at least,” said Masotti, who also raced to victories in the 100 (13.0) and 200 (26.5).

Meanwhile, Vaccarella did her part, taking first in the 1,500 in 5:02.9 and the 800 in 2:55.2.

Searles was a double winner as well, in both hurdling events. She took the 100-meter high hurdles in 17.3 and the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 1:16.2.

Mattituck’s Sarah Santacroce set a personal record, throwing the discus a winning distance of 94 feet, 4 1/2 inches. The Tuckers also received first-place finishes from: Jordan Olser (32-1 1/4 in the triple jump), Mack Conroy (1:05.6 in the 400), Nicholson (15-7 1/2 in the long jump) and Viki Harkin (4-8 in the high jump).

Masotti said, “Despite us winning a lot, we don’t get too cocky, and it just shows how much we work because obviously we’re still getting prs [personal records], we’re still trying our hardest.”

And the winning continues.

If anyone can appreciate winning, it’s Vaccarella, the new girl on the team. She said, “I love winning.”

It’s fashionable.

Photo caption: Mattituck sophomore Bella Masotti pushes herself to victory in the 200 meters in 26.5 seconds. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

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