Boys Winter Track: Southold’s Latham, Torrento are good motivators

Southold/Greenport sprinters Kenny Latham and Jorge Torrento are like a mini-team within a team, making each other better. The two seniors employ dramatically different motivational techniques, too.

To explain that, Latham told the story of how he was the one holding the starting block in place for Torrento when Torrento set a team record of 6.73 seconds in the 55 meters in a crossover meet last month. Latham said he kept repeating to Torrento, “You’re the best, you’re the best, you’re the best.”

Torrento’s motivational approach is entirely different, according to Latham. “His is a little more negative,” Latham said, “telling me that I’m not the best … It helps me.”

The duo have helped each other enough to pick up third-place finishes in the Section XI League V Championships Sunday morning at Suffolk County Community College’s Suffolk Federal Arena. Latham notched third in the 55-meter hurdles in 8.53 seconds and Torrento was third in the 55 meters in 6.85. Latham also came in sixth in the 55 with a personal-record 7.06.

If nothing else, it proves their motivational techniques are working.

“The thing they have in common is they’re both very strong competitors,” coach Karl Himmelmann said. “They like to win. They like to really be at their best at competitions.”

Latham has dropped his best time in the 55 hurdles from 8.91 last season to a team record 8.34 this season. However, he said Sunday’s race was at least the second time this season he had timed in at precisely 8.53.

“The biggest takeaway from my season so far is its consistency, and for the last couple of meets I’ve run a consistent 8.53,” Latham said. “It’s amazing in the sense that I’m so consistent, but it’s kind of annoying in the fact that I’m not getting much better, but I’ve been running with a lot of great athletes and by just running with them, I can feel myself getting faster.”

Asked if he can improve upon his best 55 hurdles time, Latham answered: “Nothing is impossible to a man who will try and I’m a very persistent athlete. I’m a very persistent person, so when I set a goal, I’m not going to stop until I achieve it. So, it wasn’t today, it may not be next week, but I will get it done.”

Himmelmann likes the work ethic Latham brings to practices. “Kenny works,” he said. “Kenny comes in every day and really focuses on trying to get better every day. The results show that.”

Latham said: “I’m no sprinter like Jorge, but he’s done wonders for me. My motivating skills are a little bit different, the ways that we motivate each other, but running against him, athlete to athlete, he’s making me faster. So I really give all my success to him.

“When I’m running next to him and I look over, I want to beat him, so it’s just going to push me harder to get faster.”

The feeling is mutual. Torrento said, “It would have been weird just being like the only [Southold] sprinter here, but it’s kind of fun having him next to me when I’m racing against him.”

As for his performance in the 55, Torrento said: “I’m not necessarily happy. I feel like I did get a good time, but the only thing that’s stopping me is my starts. I’m not as explosive. That’s what I’ve been trying to work on. For the last, maybe, two or three weeks, that’s all I’ve been working on, honestly.”

Himmelmann noted that Torrento has met the qualifying standard for the state meet and a third-place finish in the state qualifying meet would send him to the state championships March 7 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island. “Jorge’s had an outstanding season,” said the coach, whose team was eighth in the team competition with 15 points. Mount Sinai (124) was first.

Southold shot putter Ryan Fulda broke his own team record with a throw of 40 feet, 3 inches. That brought the junior fifth place and bettered the 36-1 he threw last year.

“I’m progressing,” said Fulda, who works with the team’s throwing coach, Bill Hiney. “I didn’t know how dangerously close I was to it until maybe like a couple of days ago, and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m already at 39.’ I had a few good throws before that and today I came through.”

Starzee first in high jump

All 10 of Mattituck’s team points at the meet came from senior Josh Starzee’s triumph in the high jump. He cleared 5-8. Earlier this season, Starzee reached a personal-best 5-10.

“It would have been great to have him hit 5-10 again, but he did awesome,” said Mattituck coach Mike Kollmer, adding: “He was kind of a little disappointed that he didn’t get 5-10 because he wanted to match his pr.”

“He’s always working and he’s just a good teammate,” Kollmer continued. “He’ll help out all the other high jumpers. He has a great vertical, but his form is great. The high jump form, you need the arch. He’s got it all.”