The reaction Emily Russell had to experiencing the New York State girls track and field championships for the first time was undoubtedly similar to those of others. She looked around at the talent on hand at Middletown High School, perhaps a bit in awe, and realized that all of the athletes were good. Really good. It’s a collection of the best of the best.
No one made it there by accident.
“It was cool to see so many young people really good at what they do,” the Southold High School senior said. “Everybody is really good. There was no weak link. Everybody was just there to win and there to compete … And they all fought to get there.”
With that thought, some doubts entered Russell’s mind. She said, initially, she wasn’t very optimistic and a bit nervous.
Then Russell talked herself out of it. She said, “I had to stop and say to myself, ‘I deserve to be here and I have a shot.’ ”
Russell proved she belonged with the 23 other entrants in the pentathlon competition Friday and Saturday. With a personal-record 2,755 points, she finished third in Division II and ninth in the federation in her final meet representing the Southold/Greenport team.
The only Division II pentathletes who finished ahead of her were Red Jacket senior Sara VanAken (fifth overall with 3,169 points) and Holland senior Jayna Galley (sixth overall with 3,081).
“It was a really good few days,” said Russell, who was ranked sixth in Division II entering the meet.
Russell was first overall in the shot put with a throw of 35 feet, 8 1/2 inches. “I went into the shot put the most confident because that’s always been my best event and I kind of knew I would get all the adrenaline and just do it,” she said.
She also recorded her best time in the 100-meter hurdles (18.22 seconds) and her best distance in the long jump (16-3 1/4 on her third attempt). That long jump was the second-best among Division II pentathletes. “The long jump, that was just magical,” said Southold coach Karl Himmelmann.
Russell’s high jump of 4-11 3/4 was third-best in Division II. She was 190 points ahead of the next Division II competitor before the final event, the 800, which she ran in 2:45.59. “Honestly, she had it pretty much sealed before the 800,” said Himmelmann.
He added: “We couldn’t have asked for a better ending … Words cannot describe how elated I am about how she did. From the very start, she pr’d on the hurdles by 6/10ths of a second and she never looked back. The whole weekend she had a look of determination.”
Russell, who took up track only last year, said competing in a state meet wasn’t on her radar back then. A volleyball player for Mike Gunther’s Greenport/Southold team, she joined the track team for conditioning purposes.
Now track is her future. Her future coach at SUNY/Cortland, Steve Patrick, was in attendance at the state meet.
“Let’s just say she definitely made a good first impression,” said Himmelmann.
Russell, who had taken first place at the Section XI Division III Championships and in Division II at the state qualifying meet, said she is grateful to the community support she has received. She said even people she doesn’t know wished her good luck.
She said, “It was a great way to end it.”
Mattituck ninth in 4×100
Bella Masotti had a busy state meet. The Mattituck sophomore competed in three events in Middletown.
Masotti was a member of the 4×100 relay team that was ninth in Division II. The team, that included sophomore Nikki Searles, freshman Emily Nicholson and senior Miranda Annunziata, clocked a time of 50.97.
Masotti also ran the 100-meter dash preliminaries in 13.33 and the 200 preliminaries in 26.63. She did not qualify for the finals in either event.
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport senior Emily Russell throwing during the pentathlon’s shot put competition, which she won with a throw of 35 feet, 8 1/2 inches. (Credit: Karl Himmelmann)