Girls track: Mattituck wins league championship

Head coach Chris Robinson has treasured every Mattituck girls track team’s league championship.

But the most recent one, the Tuckers’ ninth title in a row, might have been a bit sweeter than others.

Despite having its smallest squad in years, Mattituck captured the Suffolk League VII crown with an undefeated season, culminating with an 81-57 victory at Southold/Greenport Tuesday afternoon.

“Every year is special,” Robinson said. “To do it consistently, you have different challenges that each year brings. We had the smallest team probably in the last 11, 12 years. We started out on paper, we had 25. Things happened throughout the season, and we had a solid 16-17. It’s hard to continue to win when you have a small team because there’s a lot of events. You try to fill them. Usually, you win with numbers. We didn’t have that.

“A lot of the girls had to step up and do four events every week, which is asking a lot,” he continued. “So, this is a special year. These girls really worked hard to fill in the gaps where we needed them. It’s not easy to win one, let alone nine in a row. It’s a tremendous accomplishment for them.”

 You didn’t need to remind two Tuckers (6-0, 6-0) athletes who were victorious in multiple events about that.

“Just having everyone putting their best foot forward was really nice,” said junior Casey Szczotka, who participated in four wins. “The fact that we are so small helps us get closer knit. A lot of teams, you’ll see they don’t really cheer for each other as much. If you go to any [Mattituck] event, you’ll see about 10 girls lined up cheering for their teammates. I think that’s really what motivates everyone to do well.”

Senior Alyvia Apparu noted that Mattituck shared the 2023 crown with Port Jefferson and Southampton.

“I’m really happy because our team at the beginning of the season wasn’t looking too strong,” she said. “We had a lot less girls, but everyone pulled through and did what they had to do.”

On Tuesday, Apparu did what she had to do, winning the 100-meter dash (12.4 seconds) and 200 (25.8). She also was part of the victorious 4×100 relay team (52.9) along with juniors Rhianna Lutz, Riley Corrigan and Szczotka.

Apparu had a personal record in the 100, dropping .6 seconds off her best time.

“The 200 usually is my better race,” she said, “but I did better in the 100. So that was exciting. I would say I’m a little tired today. Maybe that’s why the shorter distances were a little bit easier.”

Szczotka won three individual races — the 110 and 400 hurdles in 16.1 seconds and 77.2 seconds, respectively, and the 400 in 63.5.

As a freshman in 2020, Szczotka finished fifth in the states in the pentathlon. She won’t be pursuing it at the county small schools’ championships on May 21.

“I want to see how far we go in the four-by-one,” she said. “If I do the pent, I can’t do the four-by-one.”

Eighth-grader Madelyn Mignone also was a multiple winner, taking the 800 (2:38.7) and 1,500 (5:52.1). Senior Carolyn Conroy won the triple jump (35-3.5).

Junior Haley Lake was excited breaking her school pole vault record, jumping 9-6.

“I’ve been working on that for a while,” she said. “You just got to keep going up from there.”

Robinson was elated with Lake’s progress, noting that she also runs the 100 and 400 hurdles.

“She does just about everything,” he said. “I could go on and on. We have some young girls stepping up, too. Hopefully, they continue through the postseason. We have an opportunity to bring some of these girls who worked hard to the states. It’s going to be great.”

For the Settlers (2-4, 2-4), seniors Olivia Misiukiewicz captured the high jump (5-3) and Cameron Stanton won the long jump (17-3.5). Jackie Martocchia took the 1,500 walk run (10:45) and Emily Kaelin won the 3,000 (13:32). Alex Feeney clinched the shot put (28-0) and LeNeve Zuhoski the discus (79-0).

Southold head coach Tim McArdle called his team’s performance “mediocre.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s our best performance. It’s not the worst,” he said. “So proud of the girls, a couple of PRs. Unfortunately, we had a scheduling conflict with something else going on at the school. With the counties, that’s what really starts counting for the individuals on the team.”

Saluting Southold’s senior track standouts.