The Southold/Greenport girls track and field team was so close that it could see the first league championship in its history just over the horizon. All the First Settlers needed to do in their final dual meet of the season was clear one final hurdle.
Mattituck, however, turned out to be one heck of a tough hurdle. Too tough, in fact, for Southold to navigate.
In a Suffolk County League VIII meet with championship implications for both teams, Mattituck blew out the competition, beating Southold, 105-31, at Southold High School Thursday. It was a double-dual meet for Mattituck (5-0, 5-0), which also scored a 139-1 rout of Shelter Island, which had only a handful of athletes competing.
What those results did was assure Mattituck, the only undefeated team in the league, of its fourth straight league championship and ninth overall. The Tuckers also extended their run of consecutive dual-meet wins to 20 over a three-year period.
“We were really anticipating this meet all season,” Mattituck sophomore Nikki Searles said. “This was our biggest meet, and we knew that going into this. We really wanted to hold up our title of league champs.”
Sophomore Bella Masotti and eighth-grader Ava Vaccarella won three individual events each. Masotti also ran the anchor leg for Mattituck’s triumphant 4×100-meter relay team, which clocked a season-best time of 51.5 seconds.
“I didn’t really have many expectations [going into the meet] because we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into,” said Masotti, who was joined by Searles, Emily Nicholson and Miranda Annunziata on the relay team. “It was a big mystery, which is why we were all so nervous. I think we did the best we could. Everyone stepped up and a lot of people were running more events than they normally do.”
Masotti did everything she could. She blazed to victory in the 400 meters in 1:03.8, coming right back in the 100 before the pain could kick in and taking first in that sprint in 12.8. Masotti had a short breather before the 200, which she won in 27.9.
“As soon as I got to the 200 it was a little hard, but I just wanted to push through and get the win for our team,” she said.
Vaccarella rose to the occasion as well, winning the 1,500 (5:12.3), 800 (2:34.7) and 3,000 (11:41).
Searles was a winner in both the 100-meter high hurdles (personal record 16.5) and 400 intermediate hurdles (1:17.5). Mackenzie Conroy (32 feet, 11 3/4 inches in the triple jump), Nicholson (15-1 1/2 in the long jump), Sarah Santacroce (90-9 in the discus) and Jordan Osler (6-6 in the pole vault) also turned in winning performances for Mattituck.
“We were anticipating them to come into the meet hard,” Searles said of the Settlers. “They really wanted to win. We really wanted to win. It was going to be a really hard meet and we knew that and we were just prepared to step up.”
Southold coach Karl Himmelmann announced six seniors during a Senior Day ceremony before the meet. One of those seniors, Emily Russell, went on to have quite a day for herself. Russell was first in the high jump (4-10) and shot put (33-7).
Another senior, Emiliann Palermo, brought Southold (6-1, 5-1) first-place points in the 1,500-meter race walk. Her time wasn’t available.
Mattituck’s depth was an advantage, and it didn’t help Southold that Marie Mullen, a senior in her fourth year on the team, had spent three weeks in a walking boot because of sprained ankle. She competed after receiving medical clearance Wednesday.
Southold still has a slim chance of grabbing a share of the title, but would need Mattituck lose its final dual meet Monday at home to Ross (1-3, 1-3). Not likely, given the way Mattituck looks.
“For our team, it stinks, but we all really improved this season and just getting this far is an accomplishment,” said Russell.
“I just think today we did a great job just coming out here and putting our best foot forward,” Mattituck coach Chris Robinson said. He added: “These girls work tremendously hard every day and this is what they work hard for.”
Photo caption: Bella Masotti strains as she nears the finish line in the 100-meter dash. The Mattituck sophomore won that race as well as two other individual events and a relay. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)