If not for the urging of a friend, Olivia Misiukiewicz would not be a member of the Southold/Greenport girls track and field team, the Suffolk County Class C high jump champion or headed to the state meet.
But she is all of the above.
Encouraged to come out for the team last year, Misiukiewicz, who had no previous experience in the sport, figured, “Why not?”
“I was gonna do long jump because of my long legs, obviously, but then [coach Tim McArdle] was like, ‘Come over to high jump,’ and I tried it once. And in the first meet, I got 4-8 with no preparation. So they’re like, ‘You’re doing high jump.’ ”
McArdle said: “We knew we had something special from the beginning. I actually remember I was just talking to her mom, and I told her mom at one of the meets last year, I said, ‘Your daughter has special ability, and we need to start, you know, working on that and she could do big things.’ ”
Athletic, tall and slender, Misiukiewicz looks every bit like a high jumper. Now she’s a champion high jumper.
Misiukiewicz rose to the top at the Suffolk Class C Championships Thursday at Mount Sinai High School. Not only did the 5-11 sophomore finish in first place, but on her third and final attempt at 5 feet, 3 inches, she reached the super qualifying standard, automatically qualifying her for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships to be held June 10 and 11 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
“I’m going to the states! I’m going to the states!” the excited Misiukiewicz said after clearing 5-3.
Misiukiewicz entered the competition at 4-8, clearing that height on her first attempt as well as her first tries at 4-10, 5-0, 5-1 and 5-2.
Misiukiewicz was the last competitor left after Bayport-Blue Point senior Leeann Redlo withdrew with an injury with the bar set at 5-2. Her best jump was 5-1.
Referring to her final attempt at 5-3, Misiukiewicz said: “I looked at the bar and it was up and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I did it!’ It was so shocking. I just didn’t expect it.”
What was McArdle’s take?
“I think what she did today was amazing, you know,” he said. “It’s so special, you know, to see a small town girl do big town things.”
Misiukiewicz failed in her three attempts at 5-4, but had set a personal record of 5-5 two weeks earlier.
Misiukiewicz said she had an IT band issue near her left knee that cost her three weeks of the season.
“I was worried,” she said. “I was doing physical therapy. I still showed up to practice. I watched everything, but I was getting nervous and the first time I jumped after I was barely getting over four [feet] so I got really worried, but came through by the end.”
So, what were Misiukiewicz’ expectations entering the meet?
“All my coaches had an expectation of first,” she said. “I was hoping for third place, but then I saw everyone else, I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll get a second,’ and my confidence kept going up and then I was kind of hoping for third, but I got a first instead, which is great.”
From knowing next to nothing about the event, Misiukiewicz has come a long way in a relatively short period of time.
“She’s made gigantic progress from her first year,” McArdle said. “She made huge progress throughout the year, and then this year she came in and made immense progress again. I mean, I think she gained six inches on her PR [personal record] between last year and this year. So, you know, the goal is progress every year.”
And just think: It was only by happenstance, some encouraging words from a friend, that brought Misiukiewicz into the track world.
“She showed up on a whim, which is amazing,” McArdle said. “And, you know, a friend pulled her along, so any more girls out there that want to pull friends along, we’ll take you.”
Elsewhere, Mattituck freshman Casey Szczotka finished first in the pentathlon, outpointing the only other competitor, Elwood/John Glenn senior Abby Miller, 2,620-2,008.
Mattituck senior Mackenzie Conroy landed in second place in the triple jump, covering 36-6 1/4.
Mattituck junior Ava Vaccarella finished fourth in the 3,000 meters in 10 minutes, 56.70 seconds. She was also sixth in the 1,500 in 5:13.42.
Mount Sinai took the team title with 141 points. Mattituck was ninth with 24 and Southold 12th with 14.5.
ZAPPULLA MEDALS IN 1,600
Mattituck junior Trevor Zappulla, coming off a bout with the flu, earned a fourth-place medal in the 1,600 and was fifth in the 800. His 1,600 time was 4:48.63. Earlier, he clocked 2:04.88 in the 800.
Mount Sinai racked up 173 points, good for first place in the team standings. Mattituck (six points) was 11th and Southold (two) 13th.