The day of the big race is always a big one on the Shelter Island calendar. (more…)
The day of the big race is always a big one on the Shelter Island calendar. (more…)
Eliud Ngetich smiled when a reporter joked that his participation in the 40th annual Shelter Island 10K Run Saturday amounted to a long cooldown. READ
Before the proceedings began, Dan Normoyle dubbed the occasion “Big Pole Saturday.” It was appropriate enough, with the 29 best high school boys pole vaulters in the state competing in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships at Middletown High School.
The theory is that the longer the pole, the higher it will propel pole vaulters through the air. Normoyle, though, actually used two poles of the same length: 15 feet, one a little thicker than the other. Afterward, he acknowledged that, in his case at least, it wasn’t “Big Pole Saturday.” Normoyle didn’t quite go as high as he would have liked, but the Riverhead senior still turned in the third-best performance in the competition, and that’s not bad at all.
Normoyle cleared 14 feet 6 inches, finishing behind Justin Farrenkopf of Ellenville (15-0) and James Steck of Shaker (14-6). Another Riverheader, junior Charles Villa, was ninth at 14-0.
“It was tough today,” Normoyle said. “It wasn’t my best, but I put my all into it. There was nothing else I could have done. It wasn’t the best day for a lot of people.”
That includes the meet favorite, Warwick Valley junior Todd Uckermark, one of two pole vaulters who failed to clear a height.
Normoyle, the Section XI champion who broke his own school record by reaching 15-0 in a state qualifying meet eight days earlier, complained afterward that he lacked confidence. Then, using a phrase Yogi Berra would have appreciated, he said pole vaulting is “90 percent mental, and the rest is in your head.”
Because of heavy rain on Friday, the scheduled two-day meet was condensed into one day. Normoyle said he was in a better mental state to compete on Friday. Instead, he went to lunch with his parents and saw a movie that day.
Villa entered the competition at 13-0, and Normoyle started at 13-6. They both made heights without missing to be among the 12 pole vaulters still standing after reaching 14-0. For some of the athletes, that height represented a ceiling.
“That’s the dividing line right there,” Villa said. “That’s where it starts to really get hard.”
Both Riverheaders passed on 14-3, going straight to 14-6. That’s when Villa ran into trouble, fouling on his first two attempts and then failing on his third and final one. Normoyle made good on his first attempt at 14-6, but he couldn’t handle 14-9, although he came awfully close on his final try, just nipping the bar.
“I just didn’t have the rhythm today, I guess,” said Normoyle, who gave up playing football to devote himself to pole vaulting.
Normoyle may have been disappointed, but his coach, Steve Gevinski, wasn’t disappointed in him.
“I thought he was amazing, just the strength and the speed he showed was unbelievable,” said the Riverhead coach.
Friday’s postponement made life difficult for Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia, who had to run two long-distance finals on Saturday as a result. Udvadia clocked a time of 9 minutes 10.24 seconds to take sixth place in the 3,200 meters, which saw Nick Ryan of Fayetteville-Manlius triumph in 8:58.28.
“I dozed off during the race,” Udvadia said. “I wasn’t paying attention. I let the front pack get too far ahead.”
Ryan nearly pulled off an impressive double later in the day, with only a few hours to recover. He was nipped at the finish line by Eric Holt of Carmel in the 1,600 final. Holt’s winning time was 4:07.00, just 55/100ths of a second faster than Ryan. Udvadia was eighth in 4:17.11.
“I’m not disappointed,” he said. “Honestly, anything under 4:20 I’ll be happy with.”
Two Mattituck athletes made their first appearance in the state meet. Darius Brew, a freshman and the youngest competitor in the triple jump, came in 23rd place with a distance of 40-3 1/2.
“I feel I did O.K,” Brew said. “It’s acceptable because I’m young, but I feel I could have done better.”
His teammate, junior Sal Loverde, did not have one of his better days, throwing 126-0 for 28th place. The winning throw was 181-9 by Jericho’s Noah White.
“It was unreal,” Loverde said. “The amount of competition is great.”
CARTER SETS HER BEST TIME IN 100 Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Danisha Carter posted a personal-best time in the 100 meters. The junior was 16th in the 100 in 12.89. She was 13th in the 200 in 26.32.
“I think I did [well] for the competition that I was up against,” Carter said. “My back has been killing me, so I came in thinking I wasn’t going to do [well] at all.”
McGann-Mercy was represented by another athlete at Middletown’s sparkling Faller Field. Delina Auciello, a junior celebrating her 17th birthday, was reportedly not feeling well with a stomach ache, but still competed in the 3,000 finals. She finished 25th in 11:28.73.
Competing in the state meet can be a humbling experience. Even top runners can find themselves near the back of the pack.
McGann-Mercy coach Ben Turnbull said, “New York State is a big state.”
SECTION XI INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIP STATE QUALIFIER
Two Mattituck athletes, junior Sal Loverde and freshman Darius Brew, qualified for the first time for the state meet that will be held June 7 and 8 at Middletown High School.
Loverde threw the discus a personal-record distance of 135 feet 1 inch on his first throw, making him the top Division II finisher and ninth over all.
“I pr’d, I’m going to the states now, too,” he said. “It was a good day.”
Mattituck coach Pete Hansen said Loverde was ready for a big day. “The last two weeks he’s been really focused,” the coach said. “There was a lot of mental preparation. He’s always had the tools to throw.”
Ironically, Brew’s good day in the triple jump can be traced to his bad day in the high jump. Despite his disappointment at finishing tied for 13th place in the high jump at 5-8, Brew triple jumped 41-9 1/2, good enough for No. 1 in Division II and 11th place over all, and a ticket to the state meet. It was the best triple jump of his young career.
Brew said he was angry over his performance in the high jump, his primary event, but transferred that anger in a positive direction in the triple jump. “The triple was basically like secondary,” he said. “It was like Plan B, something to fall back on, and it ended up working.”
Loverde dedicated his performance to Hansen, who will be leaving the team and the school after this season.
“Even though Coach Hansen isn’t going to be here next year,” Loverde said, “I want to wish him the best with whatever he does, and I did this for him.”
Udvadia misses double, but clocks personal record
Looking for the names of double winners in individual events in the Section XI boys track and field individual championship state qualifier, one will find Christopher Belcher of Sayville (100 and 200 meters), James Burke of Port Jefferson (800 and 1,600) and John Stallworth of Connetquot (110-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles), but no Ryan Udvadia of Shoreham-Wading River.
Udvadia, who was seeded first in both the 3,200 and 1,600 meters, took care of the first half of business on Friday when he triumphed in the 3,200 in 9 minutes 17.27 seconds. On Saturday, the second and final day of the meet at Port Jefferson High School, Udvadia ran the fastest 1,600 he ever did before — and he had to settle for second place.
Udvadia and Burke, the top two seeds, were actually the last two runners among the section of 11 runners for most of the first lap of the 1,600 final. Udvadia, a junior, had moved up to fifth after 800 meters, and was then third around 1,000 meters. But Burke was on Udvadia’s right shoulder and moved ahead of him into second at the 1,200-meter mark. Burke took the lead on the bell lap as Udvadia moved in to second. But Burke held onto the lead despite a desperate effort by Udvadia, who couldn’t catch him.
The Port Jefferson sophomore took the race in 4:13.72. Udvadia was right behind him in second with a personal-best time of 4:14.73. Northport senior James Dickinson was third in 4:15.66. Those three times are the fastest in Suffolk County this season.
“That was a fast race,” said Udvadia, who lost a 1,600 race to a Suffolk runner for the first time this season.
Asked if he had any regrets, Udvadia replied: “I did everything I could. Maybe, looking back on it now, I say to myself now, ‘I could have kicked harder,’ but I know when I was doing the race I couldn’t. I couldn’t move my legs any more.”
Udvadia said he was taken aback when the purple-uniformed Burke passed him.
“I couldn’t believe it was him,” Udvadia said. “When I saw that it was him, I said, ‘Alright, it’s time to go.’ ”
The times posted were impressive, especially considering the heat the runners had to endure.
“Burke ran a great race,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Bob Szymanski said. “The weather also is not conducive to fast times, and those guys ran fast times.”
After the race, Udvadia shook Burke’s hand and told a reporter he was happy for the Port Jefferson runner.
Even before the race started, Udvadia had qualified for the state meet in both the 3,200 and the 1,600.
“I’m happy that I get to go for both,” he said, “but it would have been nice to go as a Section XI champ for both of them.”
TRACK NOTES Medals were presented to the top four finishers in each individual event. Shoreham-Wading River junior Jordan Wright grabbed a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 100 (11.09) and the 200 (22.65). Riverhead senior Anthony Galvan finished fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10:09.76.
It was typical Ryan Udvadia.
After the Division III 3,200-meter final started, the Shoreham-Wading River junior was hanging well back in the bottom third of the field, as if toying with the opposition, who surely knew what was coming. Early in the third lap, Udvadia made a tremendous move, passing a half-dozen runners and easing into the third position. By the time there were three laps to go, he was in the lead, coasting to a victory he made look almost effortless.
Udvadia ran about 28 seconds slower than his personal record for the distance, and yet still managed to beat his nearest competitor, Bayport-Blue Point senior Adam LaFemina, who was over 10 seconds behind him in the Suffolk County Division Championships at Connetquot High School on Tuesday. Udvadia’s time was 9 minutes 29.82 seconds. Further back was Shoreham-Wading River junior Connor McAlary, who was fifth in 10:01.92.
Although the top-seeded Udvadia may have been saving his legs for Thursday, when he will run in the 1,600 (he is the favorite to win that event as well, having clocked a personal-best time of 4:15.64 earlier this year at the Penn Relays) and the 4×800 relay, he blew away the field.
“He doesn’t surprise me anymore,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Bob Szymanski said. “I mean, he doesn’t lose.”
Connetquot has a nice looking track, but Udvadia is not a fan of it. “I really hate this track, just because the turns are bigger than the straightaways,” he explained.
Not that one could tell by his performance, but the weather conditions irritated Udvadia’s allergies.
“The pollen was unbelievable,” he said. “It was horrible. I can feel it in my throat right now, so I’m expecting to feel sick on Thursday.”
That would be a setback Shoreham-Wading River could ill afford. As it was, the Wildcats took a blow on Tuesday when one of their top athletes, Israel Squires, injured his ankle while playing basketball in a physical education class. The sophomore, who was seeded third in the triple jump, fouled and did not record a distance in the event.
Squires also anchors Shoreham’s 4×100 relay team, the No. 1 seed which qualified for Thursday’s final. The meet will conclude on Thursday, when most of the finals will be held.
Szymanski fears Squires’ injury could cost the Wildcats 30 points.
“That’s not a good thing,” Szymanski said. “I’m totally depressed. I feel bad for the kid, but he’s got to use better judgment than what he did by playing hoops right before” the meet.
A more encouraging development for Shoreham was the discus, which senior Kyle Fleming took first place in with a personal-record throw of 140 feet 8 inches. Fleming, whose best throw going into the meet was 132 feet, surpassed that distance on four of his six throws Tuesday despite throwing into the wind.
“The wind was tricky,” Shoreham’s throwing coach, Bill Hiney, said. “Throwing into the wind, you really have to have hand control. If the tip of the discus is up, it will just sail right over and cut distance off your throw. Kyle controlled that very well.”
Fleming left the school before a reporter could interview him.
The Wildcats also received a fourth-place finish from senior Thomas Sager in the pole vault. He cleared 12 feet.
Riverhead junior Marcus Moore took second place in the Division II triple jump, covering 42-10. North Babylon senior Kamar Marston-Mills (44-3 1/2) was the only one to throw farther than him.
“I don’t think he had his best legs today, so I was happy with 42-11,” Riverhead coach Steve Gevinski said of Moore. “He’s a phenomenal athlete. I think he’s just growing into his body, too. I think as he builds a little more strength, he’ll be even better.”
Mattituck freshman Darius Brew, one of the youngest athletes to compete in the triple jump, was congratulated by his coach, Pete Hansen, after covering 41-1 during the preliminaries. But then Hansen delivered the distressing remark that he didn’t believe Brew had qualified for the Division III finals.
That did not sit well with Brew.
“It was terrible,” Hansen said. “It was like I killed his puppy.”
As it turned out, Hansen was wrong. Brew did indeed reach the finals, and turned in a personal-best 41-2 1/2, which brought him sixth place.
“I think the biggest thing for him is he does not like to lose,” said Hansen. He added, “There are so many good things about him, I can’t say anything bad.”
Brew, whose best triple jump before Tuesday was 40-11, said he has more distance in his legs. “Every time I get a best, a personal best, I feel that my body is able to do better,” he said.
Mattituck junior Sal Loverde finished eighth in the discus with a throw of 124-6.
BRAUNSKILL TAKES TRIPLE JUMP Riverhead junior Kyra Braunskill won the Division II triple jump title in the girls division championships on Monday at Connetquot High School. Braunskill’s winning distance was 39-3 3/4.
Riverhead also received a fifth-place finish from sophomore Rashae Smith in the discus (96-6).
Through three events of the pentathlon, Riverhead sophomore Rachel Clement held sixth place with 1,209 points. She took second in the high jump (4-7 3/4), third in the shot put (24-11 3/4) and sixth in the 100-meter high hurdles (20.02).
Following the first day of the two-day meet, which concludes Wednesday, Riverhead was tied for third place in the team scoring with Half Hollow Hills West. They both had 12 points, trailing Kings Park (21) and North Babylon (18).
In Division III, Shoreham-Wading River was in a third-place tie as well with Elwood/John Glenn. Both teams had 14 points. Miller Place (39) is first and Hampton Bays (16) is second. Bishop McGann-Mercy is 10th with two points.
Shoreham received 10 points from Meghan Serdock’s victory in the discus. The senior threw 100-11.
The Wildcats also received a fourth-place finish from freshman Kaitlyn Ohrtman in the 3,000 meters (10:33.89). McGann-Mercy junior Delina Auciello was behind her in fifth place in 11:22.00.
Mattituck junior Shannon Dwyer was fourth in the pentathlon after three events with 1,244 points. Dwyer was second in the shot put (28- 1/4), third in the high jump (4-4) and seventh in the 100-meter high hurdles (19.10).
SUFFOLK TRACK OFFICIALS HOLIDAY CLASSIC
One has to wonder just where Ryan Udvadia gets all that energy.
Less than 48 hours after running and winning three individual events (the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters) and anchoring a winning 4×800-meter relay team in a dual-meet win over Mount Sinai, the Shoreham-Wading River junior was back on the track again on Saturday.
In only Shoreham-Wading River’s fourth meet this season and first invitational, Udvadia made a strong case for himself as arguably the best long-distance runner in Suffolk County. He did that with his victory in the open 1,600 against some tough competition in the Suffolk Track Officials Holiday Classic at Mount Sinai High School.
It wasn’t the first-place finish that was so impressive as the time: 4 minutes 20.98 seconds. That is only a few seconds off Udvadia’s best time. Coming so relatively early in the season, before the weather has truly warmed up, was impressive.
“I was a little nervous about the mile because it was pretty stacked, great competition,” he said, “but I knew I had the race when there was like a half-mile to go and I realized how slow it was in the beginning, and how much energy I actually had left.”
Udvadia took the lead briefly going into the last lap, lost it, but then surged forward with 200 meters to go. He ended up winning by a fair margin over the next two finishers, Tom Meehan of Eastport/South Manor (4:23.32) and Tim McGowan of Northport (4:23.92).
“Nobody runs 4:20 this early,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Bob Szymanski said. “I didn’t want him to run that fast … but he also wants to establish himself.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Udvadia’s day was not done. He had an open 800 final to run after that.
Szymanski, concerned about his star runner’s health, warned him beforehand not to do anything “stupid.”
Udvadia almost hurt himself before the 800 race, trotting into a hurdle while talking to someone and warming up at the same time. He took a fall, Szymanski said, but was O.K.
During the first half of the race, Udvadia had fallen back to about the final one-third of the field. Some may have wondered if Udvadia’s legs were giving out on him. Szymanski was watching the race from the press box when someone asked him, “What happened to your man, Udvadia?” The coach replied, “It’s not over yet.”
True enough. Playing track and field’s version of opossum, Udvadia then made his move. It was all part of the plan. Passing about a dozen runners in front of him, and making it look ridiculously easy in the process, Udvadia went on to win the heat in 1:58.61, his fastest 800 time ever. It stood for fourth place.
Udvadia said he even surprised himself.
“Usually in the beginning [of a race] I just sit [back] on them, and when I feel like I can do it, I’ll go for the kick, and that’s what I did for the last lap,” he said.
Is that kick always there?
“Ninety percent of the time,” he said, smiling.
Szymanski said Udvadia reminds him of Bobby Andrews, one of the greatest runners the Wildcats have ever produced.
A driven athlete who doesn’t like second-best, Udvadia does research about his competition and trains. Oh boy, does he train, so much so that Szymanski said he needs to rein him in sometimes for fear of overtraining and injury.
After the 800, his sixth competitive race in three days, Udvadia conceded he was glad his running day was over.
“Now I’m tired,” he said. “I don’t want to run any more.”
Like Udvadia, Isreal Squires competed in four events for Shoreham-Wading River on Thursday. Squires said he felt soreness in his legs, and because of that he didn’t feel good about his chances of winning on Saturday.
He was wrong — twice.
Squires turned in a personal-best distance of 21 feet 3 3/4 inches, good enough for first place in the open long jump. He also flew to the finish line in 51.89 seconds to win the sophomore 400 final.
What was his motivation?
The winners of open events were presented with specially designed clocks bearing the meet logo.
“I just wanted to get the clock, really,” Isreal said. “It looks pretty cool in the box.”
Shoreham-Wading River senior Kyle Fleming was seventh in the open discus with a throw of 123-6. A teammate, junior Keith Steinbrecher, won the 2,000-meter steeplechase novice race in 6:43.10.
Mattituck’s 5-foot-8 freshman, Darius Brew, set a personal record, clearing 6-0 to finish in a tie for fourth place in the high jump with North Babylon senior Kamar Marston-Mills. It didn’t hurt that Brew had a little luck on his side.
“I was very surprised because I went over and I kind of hit the bar and it moved, but I didn’t hit it enough to knock it over, so I got lucky, I guess,” he said.
In addition, Brew also took sixth place in the frosh-soph long jump, covering 18-6 3/4.
Mattituck coach Pete Hansen said, “He’s got a lot of talent.”
Brew acknowledged that 6-0 is a magical number for high school high jumpers. It means instant credibility.
“I wanted to achieve 6 feet, and I did it,” he said. “That number [means] you’re good and you have a chance to win.”
Another Mattituck freshman, Jack Dufton, didn’t do badly for himself, either. Dufton set personal records in the freshman 800 (13th place in 2:18.62) and the freshman 1,600 (21st in 5:04.41).
“There’s definitely a lot more competition here, so you’re running harder just because you play to the level of your competition,” Dufton said. “There’s a lot of schools here, a lot of good kids. It’s tough. I’m usually looking at the clock in that last 100 meters, just chasing the clock.”
Dufton said that helps him run faster. “That,” he said, “and Hansen screaming at you.”