Track and field: Freshmen athletes make great progress

To truly appreciate what two North Fork freshmen have achieved, you have to realize that Mattituck higher jumper Ever Meyer and Southold/Greenport’s discus thrower Le Neve Zuhoski never competed in their events until this year.

Last week, they found themselves trying to qualify for this weekend’s track and field state championships.

They did not book a spot in upstate Cicero, but enjoyed one memorable experience, a learning one, at Comsewogue High last Thursday and Friday.

“It was pretty amazing,” Zuhoski said. “I am so happy I got the experience of being there. After seeing a lot of the girls throw, I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me,’ but I was so excited to learn more.”

Meyer had a similar reaction.

“I was really excited that I got to go,” she said. “I still have so much time to improve when you compete against older girls. It makes you push a lot harder because you want to get better … I was happy because I went to experience it as a freshman. That was a privilege.”

Neither won their respective events.

Meyer cleared the bar at 5 feet, the best of any competing freshmen in the high jump. Riverhead junior Kayleanne Campbell won the event (5’3).

Meyer was a sponge, taking in as much as she could from older jumpers.

“It is really fun to meet the older girls,” she said. “They get to tell me, ‘Hey, when I was your age, I did this wrong. Do this.’ It just helps a lot to realize what you should and shouldn’t do and how to progress.”

Meyer, who joined team as an eighth grader, tried the high jump in practice this winter. She decided to compete in an invitational meet the next day.

“I cleared 4’10,” she said. “That’s when I knew, ‘Hey, I’ve got to focus on this because I can get better.’ I was hooked on the triple and high jumps.”

Mattituck girls coach Chris Robinson was pleased with Meyer’s progress.

“She is a gifted athlete,” he said. “She really has some skill set that, at an early age, is the kind you hope for as a coach. Not only is she a great high jumper, she can triple jump, she can long jump, she can run the 400-meter dash. The future for her is very bright. Reaching the state qualifiers as a freshman is a tremendous accomplishment.”

Zuhoski finished 17th in the discus at 83’10, as one of two freshmen placing in the top 22. She was consistent, recording throws of 82’9 and 82’2. Copiague freshman Veronica Karwoska took 12th at 91’5.

When she wasn’t throwing, Zuhoski watched her more experienced rivals.

“It shows me the technique that they do have is really important to throwing,” she said. “It’s crazy how little things in everybody’s technique can throw off their throw or make it better. It’s crazy how I can watch those girls and learn from them, to see if I can improve.”

Zuhoski’s best toss this season — 94’8 — came at the May 21 county small schools’ championship.

“It was just it blew my mind when I actually threw it that far,” she said.

Zuhoski’s spring sport was softball, but earlier this year she decided to try something different.

“Why not try track for the first time?” she said. “I was considering doing discus to see how it went, but I had no idea that it would actually take me this far.”

She learned the technique and how to release the discus.

“Since I was a dancer for quite a while, it came pretty naturally to me,” she said. “That really was an advantage. It was pretty tricky, but I got the hang of it pretty soon.”

Southold/Greenport girls coach Tim McArdle saw only an upside.

“The fact that she made it here was really awesome,” he said. “We didn’t have these expectations in the beginning of the year. She made so much progress week in and week out. She worked her way up the ranks. It was really impressive.”