06/14/14 12:16pm
06/14/2014 12:16 PM
McGann-Mercy's Julianna Cintron runs the opening leg of the 4 x 100 relay at last week's state championship. The team ran again at nationals Friday. (Credit: Hal Henty)

McGann-Mercy’s Julianna Cintron runs the opening leg of the 4 x 100 relay at last week’s state championship. The team ran again at nationals Friday. (Credit: Hal Henty)

All throughout the spring track & field season, the four runners on McGann-Mercy’s 4 x 100 relay team posted faster and faster times every time they took the track.  (more…)

05/19/14 9:59pm
05/19/2014 9:59 PM
McGann-Mercy sophomore Meg Tuthill finished third in the 800 at Monday's Division II Championship. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

McGann-Mercy sophomore Meg Tuthill finished third in the 800 at Monday’s Division II Championship. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

It would be understandable if Meg Tuthill felt a tad overwhelmed at the start of the 800-meter race Monday in the Division III Championships. The McGann-Mercy sophomore stood at the starting line surrounded by some of the top runners on Long Island: the Guevara sisters of Miller Place and Sarah Hardle of John Glenn, who last spring finished sixth in the 800 at the state championship.  (more…)

05/09/14 2:00pm
05/09/2014 2:00 PM
McGann-Mercy graduate Saśa Vann became an All-American today in the 4 x 400 relay at the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships. (Credit: Buffalo State Athletics)

McGann-Mercy graduate Saśa Vann set a school record in the 400-meter dash for Buffalo State. (Credit: Buffalo State Athletics)

Saśa Vann, a former Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School athlete, claimed a pair of conference titles as Buffalo State rallied to finish second in the eight-team State University of New York Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Geneseo.  (more…)

04/08/14 3:00pm
04/08/2014 3:00 PM
McGann-Mercy senior Luis Cintron won four events in a dual meet against Ross Monday, including the 400-hurdles. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

McGann-Mercy senior Luis Cintron won four events in a dual meet against Ross Monday, including the 400-hurdles. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

In both hurdle races in track and field, a runner must clear 10 hurdles to complete each race. The shorter race, the 110-meter hurdles, and the longer 400 may seem quite similar.

As Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Luis Cintron knows, conquering both races presents a unique challenge.  (more…)

03/19/14 10:00am
03/19/2014 10:00 AM

Alya Ayoub, a long jumper, was one of four Mattituck athletes who competed in the Section XI Championships last year. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Mother Nature may have given new meaning to the phrase “March madness” for high school teams with the courage to practice outdoors. These March practices in the numbing cold and wind haven’t been easy for the Mattituck High School girls track and field team. That may be fitting, though, since the Tuckers are training for a season that will be anything but easy.  (more…)

02/13/14 7:00pm
02/13/2014 7:00 PM

Sasa Vann. (Buffalo State Athletics photo)

Sasa Vann, a former Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School athlete, highlighted four school-record-setting performances by Buffalo State as the Bengals competed against one of the premier fields in the Northeast with competitors from all divisions at the recent Boston University Valentine Invitational.

(more…)

11/14/13 7:00am
11/14/2013 7:00 AM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | The existing cinder track at Mattituck High School would be replaced by an all-weather track if voters approve a $925,000 bond proposal Tuesday.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The existing cinder track at Mattituck High School will be replaced by an all-weather track.

To the editor:

Thank you for your feature on Mattituck student Kyle Freudenberg’s passionate work toward getting a new track approved at her high school. I was a member of the Mattituck High School track team in the late 1970s and enjoyed some limited success running on the track.

Our cinder track was “out of date” and limited when I ran for the team 35 years ago, so I’m thrilled to hear that a new track has been funded and construction anticipated in the spring of 2014. I don’t live on the North Fork, but we visit Mattituck often and I look forward to running on the new track.

I would like to personally thank Ms. Freudenberg for her passion, persistence and fortitude. I’ve been following the saga for several years and I had hoped to attend some of the school board meetings to voice my strong support. Unfortunately, I never attended the meetings due to family and business conflicts (I live in Maryland), or maybe I just don’t possess the fortitude of Ms. Freudenberg.

In any case, the new track is an exciting addition to the school facility and the Mattituck community. The track supports physical activity, a healthy lifestyle and can be a benefit to the community with summer track meets and youth/adult running programs.

I applaud the decision to move forward with the new track in these tough economic times.

Michael Drum, Annaplis, Md.

11/09/2013 12:00 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Mattituck High School senior Kyle Freudenberg, right, and PTA vice president Jeanine Warns shortly after the bond vote passed. Both have rallied community support for a new track.

Kyle Freudenberg is known throughout her school as “the track girl” — and not just because she competes on the track team.

Since eighth grade, the 17-year-old Mattituck High School senior has campaigned for a new track to replace the school’s aging track, a dusty, bumpy cinder circuit that’s been deemed unsafe for home meets.

After researching Suffolk Times video and articles about the track’s condition, Kyle’s determination to convince the school and community to replace the track strengthened. Her commitment to the effort began to creep into her classwork, surfacing in debating exercises and a mock letter to the editor assignment that was eventually published in the paper.

In ninth grade, Kyle began attending school board meetings when she saw the track discussion on the agenda. Finally, during an August 2013 meeting, the school board voted in favor of putting a $925,000 track bond proposition before district voters.

Kyle said she was ecstatic about the news and worked to rally support for the bond by contacting parents she met over the summer while she volunteered as a soccer coach.

The days leading up to the Oct. 22 vote found Kyle feverishly emailing and texting parents and teachers who live in the district. She plastered fliers around the office at Strong’s Marine, where she works part-time, detailing the track bond proposal. She also created a Facebook event to promote the vote, explaining how the track could improve the community’s quality of life.

“I felt the ‘no’ votes would definitely show up and we just needed the ‘yes’ votes to get there,” she recalled during an interview this week. “Everyone was like, ‘We get the point, Kyle’ and people would start telling me, ‘Don’t worry, Kyle. My whole family will be there voting.’ ”

All of Kyle’s hard work — along with that of other community members who have rallied for a new track for nearly two decades — ultimately paid off. The track bond proposal passed by a vote of 777 to 386, including about 200 newly registered voters.

Cutchogue East Elementary School parent and PTA vice president Jeanine Warns said she and a group of parents purchased yellow “vote yes” lawn signs to raise awareness that the community could benefit from a new track, too.

“The time was right,” Ms. Warns said when asked why she believes the bond passed. “There has been a lot of people working on this for the past 15 to 20 years. The community supported it and most of the school board was open to it.”

School board vice president Charlie Anderson and retired Mattituck coach Jim Underwood were a part of the original group rallying support for a new track.

Mr. Anderson said he began supporting the cause after his son, Scott, now 26, competed in track.

“As the school has been modernized, it seems the track was always neglected, even though a lot of students went out for track,” he said. “I’m glad it passed and am looking forward to seeing it done.”

Track has gained in popularity in recent years. School officials have said nearly 15 percent of the high school’s 800 students participate in track.

Several years ago, Mr. Anderson helped form a group called Mattitrack. They hosted the community’s first Turkey Trot and held several other fundraisers for a new track. But Mattitrack was only able to generate $15,000 after numerous events and folded within a year.

Mr. Underwood, who retired in 2010, said the track’s original coal cinders were provided by LILCO (now LIPA) and the rocky surface proved to be most difficult to practice on, especially during hurdle races.

“As a coach, I was always known as the guy who had the only cinder track on Long Island,” Mr. Underwood said. “It was cute, but it got annoying when people would ask ‘When are you getting a track?’ ’’

Mr. Underwood said the rocks were removed in the 1990s and the track has remained in its dirt form since then.

“Even though a new track didn’t happen during my time there, I think it’s a good step forward for the North Fork,” he said about the bond passing.

Ms. Warns said she’s pleased the bond passed by a nearly 2 to 1 margin and believes a new track will open a “floodgate” of new opportunities, including a school marching band, breast cancer awareness walks and other community events.

Mattituck athletic director Gregg Wormuth agreed, saying he believes the bond’s passage was the result of the school board, administration and community working together.

In recent years, he said, Mattituck has competed in a league with Babylon, and Greenport high schools and The Ross School, which also lack competition-level tracks.

During track season, the teams compete together three times in either Southampton, Westhampton or Center Moriches, he said.

“I think the most exciting part of having a new track is getting to see our students compete on their own turf,” Mr. Wormuth said. “They’ve never competed among their peers. Some of their peers have never seen a track meet. It’s an opportunity for them to show what it is they do.”

Mr. Wormuth said all students in grades K-12 will have an opportunity to use the track during physical education. In addition, NJROTC students and all student athletes will be allowed to use the facility, as will as community members when school isn’t in session.

Officials have estimated the cost of installing a new all-weather polyflex track over the existing surface at about $675,000. The remainder of the bond will go toward purchasing portable bleachers and irrigation upgrades ($50,000), sport netting ($40,000), sidewalks ($15,000) and asbestos remediation work inside the school ($25,000). The proposal also includes a $120,000 contingency budget.

Construction is expected to start in June. Officials estimate it will take about three months to complete.

Kyle, who hopes to attend Villanova University after graduation, said that although she won’t get an opportunity to compete on the new track as a high school athlete, she has no regrets about the time and effort she put into getting the bond passed.

“I wanted to finish what I started,” she said. “Wherever I am, I’ll be back to see it finished.”

[email protected]

10/24/13 9:00am
10/24/2013 9:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | The existing cinder track at Mattituck High School would be replaced by a synthetic track if voters approve a $925,000 bond proposal Tuesday.

We understand why you’d grumble any time a local school district puts a bond proposal up for a vote. We all pay enough in taxes and the vast majority of what we do pay already goes to the schools.

So it’s easy to see why some residents of Mattituck and Cutchogue would automatically want to reject a $925,000 bond proposal to build a new synthetic track at the high school.

When weighing the merits of a bond issue, however, it’s important to consider its benefits as well as its impact on the wallet. A high school track can certainly be of importance to the health of many members of a school community — not just the varsity athletes who will use it most — especially at a time when obesity rates in the U.S. are higher than ever before. But as our society becomes more health conscious and life expectancy continues to lengthen, public funding of easily accessible recreational opportunities for people of all ages will only become more vital.

Considering this, paying roughly $10 a year for 15 years to have a track built at your local high school doesn’t seem too much to ask. And let’s not pretend a quality running track — better than the cinder track currently in place at the school — is not commonplace at high schools everywhere.

We suggest that, should the measure gain approval Tuesday, the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District do its part to ensure that the new track remains a public benefit, available for community use and appropriate public events.

Additionally, one noteworthy development in recent months has been the end of an agreement between the Mattituck and Greenport school districts that allowed the Porters track teams to practice in Mattituck. While some might argue it’s not the responsibility of Mattituck-Cutchogue residents to pay for a track used by students from another school district, state aid increases given to districts participating in shared-service agreements might have made a sustained pact financially beneficial to Mattituck-Cutchogue School District taxpayers. For example, Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) awarded $150,000 in state funding to the Southold and Greenport school districts this year in an effort to further various shared-service plans between them. Coincidentally, the state aid hike came after Greenport and Southold agreed to create a joint track team this year.

Mattituck school officials have said the decision to end the agreement with Greenport was based on a rule from Section XI — the organization governing high school sports in Suffolk County — stating that a school district must provide its own facilities if it has enough students to form a team. That may be the case but we suspect a plan that would allow students of outside districts to use Mattituck’s track for practice might also have made it even more challenging to get the bond proposal approved by district voters. It seems that might have been just as big a factor as compliance with Section XI rules in the district’s decision to end the arrangement.

All that said, we believe an up-to-date new track would enhance not only the experience of many Mattituck-Cutchogue high school athletes but the overall health of the community as well. That makes this bond worth supporting.