Local athletes leap and bound to state championships

Senior long jumper Stanton qualifies for state finals

Given her determination, preparation and dedication as an athlete, Cameron Stanton is unlikely to ever be accused of being a drama queen.

But the Southold/Greenport standout produced plenty of drama in her bid to qualify for the state indoor track championships.

It wasn’t until the senior’s sixth — and final — long jump attempt of the evening at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood last Wednesday that she succeeded.

“It wasn’t necessarily how I wanted it to go,” Stanton said. “It was definitely cutting it close at the last minute, but I’m relieved to say that I made it.”

With a couple of inches to spare after a leap of 17 feet, 5 inches, good for third place in the county, but also eclipsing New York’s qualifying standard of 17’3, securing Stanton’s spot at next month’s state finals.

“What suspense that she brought us through,” Southold head coach Tim McArdle said. “All the jumps are on the mark, which is great.”

Entering her final attempt, Stanton’s best jump was 17 feet, 2.25 inches. But when Sayville junior Carly Strining, who jumped just before Stanton, recorded a leap of 17 feet, 4.25 inches, Stanton had added motivation.

McArdle, who volunteered to rake the sand in the landing pit during the final round, couldn’t even watch.

“I had my eyes closed and my head down,” he said. “I was just hoping and praying.”

His prayers were answered, although it took nearly 15 minutes for the results to be confirmed.

Watching the officials compile the scores, McArdle noticed that Stanton had finished third. While looking at her parents in the stands, a smiling McArdle put his thumb up and then flashed three fingers.

Before celebrating, Stanton wanted it to be official.

“I was standing there, and I was like, ‘Can they just run the numbers already? Please, just put it out there,’ ” she said. “It’s official now and everything’s fine. I think it was freaking out my coaches more than more than me.”

Stanton, who notched a Suffolk County-best 18’1 earlier this season, endured a tough time at the small school championships at SCCC on Feb. 10. She fouled on her three heat attempts and did not reach the finals. She was just barely over the line on every try.

“I was in kind of in a rough patch,” she said. “But this definitely feels good to know that I can build forward.”

That would be forward to the state championships at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island on March 2.

Stanton said that her struggles were more mental than physical.

“I just had to work on clearing my head,” she said. “You’re telling yourself, you’re behind. You’re telling yourself you need to speed up and that’s what’s messing with your mark. Just getting past that mental block today did a lot for me.”

Last June, Stanton finished fourth in New York in the long jump among small schools. This will be her first time at the indoor finals.

“I’m really excited just because I’ve never done it before. It’s always been something that I aspired to do,” she said. “It’s a lot harder to get into than outdoor states.”

High jumper Olivia Misiukiewicz clears 5’5″ bar, tops county 

Every time she soared to new heights in the high jump at last week’s state qualifiers, Olivia Misiukiewicz received high-fives from her coaches and Southold/Greenport teammates.

It was quite appropriate because Misiukiewicz set her own “high-fives” several times at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Feb. 14.

The bar was raised to 5 feet, 1 inch, and she cleared it.

Then to 5’2, 5’3, 5’4 and, ultimately, 5’5, which Misiukiewicz cleared to win the competition and qualify for the state championships at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Center on March 2.

Misiukiewicz even appeared surprised herself. After clearing 5’5, she had a look of astonishment and elation on her face.

“I was hoping to clear 5’3,” she said. “So, clearing 5’5 was an amazing thing. It wasn’t even a close jump. I was just in shock because my goal was 5’4 the whole season and I broke it. It meant a lot to me. I was just so grateful that it actually happened.”

It meant a lot to many people. Misiukiewicz had several teammates and Mattituck athletes cheering her on.

“An amazing day for an amazing young woman,” head coach Tim McArdle said. “She really put her heart and soul into today. She performed like we know she could.”

Each contestant had three tries at each height. When Misiukiewicz missed an attempt, McArdle gave her some advice. Her speed was fine, but parts of her technique needed some tweaks, the coach said.

“We adjusted her footwork a little bit. We worked a little tweak here, a couple inches there. We also talked about her lowering her hip a little bit to get more explosive on the up portion. Everything else is just her being an athlete.”

Misiukiewicz admitted to having had a rough couple of weeks heading into the tournament.

“The past two weeks have been really bad for me,” she said. “I came really nervous into this meet, but my coaches gave me the confidence to keep going. It doesn’t matter what happens in practice. It’s the competition.”

A snowstorm delayed the meet for a day. Misiukiewicz welcomed the extra time.

“I was extremely exhausted from practice,” she said. “Having that one day home and being able to stretch and recover really helped me a lot because I’ve been having some back problems. I think that really pushed me today.”

Clearing 5’5 raised Misiukiewicz’s self-esteem with the states coming up and then the New Balance nationals in Boston March 7-10.

“It’s going to push me a lot in states,” she said. “I’m so excited to go to two really big competitions. Knowing that I can jump 5’4 and 5’5 in every competition is just a really great feeling and boosts my confidence a lot.”

Misiukiewicz had a friendly duel with Riverhead junior Kayleanne Campbell, who finished second at 5’3.

“We are really good competition for each other,” Misiukiewicz said. “We push each other a lot and I’m really happy that I have someone to push me. She’s a great competitor and an amazing high jumper. She helps me get over these higher heights.”

Campbell returned the compliment. “It’s such a fun event because you really get to bond with the girls,” she said. “As much as they’re competitors, you hope they do good. Being against someone as good as she is, it really does push you.”

This will be Misiukiewicz’s first time at the indoor state championships. At last year’s outdoor state tournament, she finished second.

“This is a huge moment for them, for us as coaches and the schools,” McArdle said. “Having these girls get to the indoor states is way more challenging than getting into the spring states, where there’s a small and big school division. Now, we’re just one division. They’re competing against every kid.”