The shot put and discus are often overlooked by track and field teams. But if they have athletes competing in those events, teams can steal points from opposing squads in dual meets.
For the first time in a long time, the Southampton girls track team has put together what head coach Eddie Arnold said will be a formidable throwing group that could be the difference between a win and a loss, especially against larger, competitive schools in the league.
What started as a small group of three or four girls last year has ballooned into a dozen or so.
“I’ve had maybe three or four girls that have thrown over 27 feet, 28 feet or better, in my 17 years of coaching. It’s not really one of the events that has its glorifying moments,” Arnold explained. “It’s one of those events that most coaches, I don’t want to say forget about, but more or less doesn’t have an impact that say, the 100-meter dash does.
“But [assistant coach Bruce Muro] and I talked up the program last year, and that kind of revitalized it, and now this year it’s been taken to another level because I’ve got other girls who can possibly do very well in the event now,” he continued. “I really believe this is an up-and-coming event for us, where we can be competitive now with Bayport, Shoreham, John Glenn. Now I think we have a chance to get those points that we used to give up.”
Coach Muro is now an assistant track coach at Eastport-South Manor, but Arnold was fortunate enough to get Lester Ware, the varsity wrestling coach, who also happens to have experience in throwing events, on board as the team’s new assistant. He’ll lead a group that returns Jillian Kolarik, Riplee Mercer and Megan Robinson, but now also includes Isabel Cuffee, Kendra Jimenez, Emily Lozado, Leilani Robinson, Allysha Thomas and Nashota Williams.
Arnold isn’t quite sure just yet who from the group will stand out, but he appreciates each one’s dedication to the events.
“The commitment and desire to do an event that no one wanted to do, that itself compliments every one of those girls,” he said.
The new throwing team only adds to what was already going to be a strong Lady Mariner squad. The program got an injection of talent from its eighth-grade class last year, and with all of those girls returning with a year of experience under their belts, an improvement from last year’s 2-4 season may be in the cards.
Katey O’Brien had a record-breaking season in the hurdles this winter and is expected to keep her success going this spring in the same events, along with teammate Caroline Palumbo. Gabriela Arnold, Amanda Mannino, Taylor Zukosky, Hallie Beeker, Alex Woods, Michelle Gagliardo, Lucy Wesnofske and Carli Cameron will all be key runners, from the sprints to long distances. And Rebekah Moritz (long, triple jumps) and Bridget Ferguson (high jump) will continue to be the team’s jumpers.
Southampton will put its newfound depth to the test in what has become a very competitive League VII. Mount Sinai won the league title last season with an undefeated 6-0 record, and Bayport/Blue Point and Elwood/John Glenn have always put together competitive teams. Shoreham/Wading River, which won the League VI title last season, has dropped down to League VII to add to the mix, while Hampton Bays has also brought back most of its squad from a year ago.
But Arnold is confident in his team this season.
“I haven’t been to states in the past four years, that could change this season,” he said. “I think we recharged the battery, and we’re looking really good the next four years. It’s too soon to say who will be going, but I have a feeling we’re going to go to states this year. Could be one of the relays, could be an individual event, but we’re looking really good.”
The Lady Mariners got their season started on Wednesday at Bayport and are scheduled to host Glenn on April 2 at 4:30 p.m.
Luke Rey burst onto the scene this winter indoor season for Southampton, qualifying for the state meet in the 55-meter dash. Although he didn’t have the finish that he wanted there, he was excited to get started in his premier event in the spring, the 100-meter dash. Southampton head coach Tony Dottin said that, barring injury, Rey has as good a shot as anyone to reach the outdoor state meet this June.
“I don’t see him not getting there,” he said. “Injuries are the only thing that will stop him from getting there. He seemed to have a totally different attitude now coming from indoors to outdoors. He wants to make up for what he did at the indoor state meet.”
Dottin is high on a pair of jumpers as well. He thinks both Logan Whitall and Diego Trujillo can both reach close to 40 feet in the triple jump, and if they do, they could find themselves making the trip upstate with Rey.
The Mariners also have a handful of strong runners. Griffin Schwartz will run the mile while Marcus Castillo will run the 400-meter dash and Jordan Corwith will handle hurdling duties. Juan Serrano can compete anywhere from the 400-meter dash and 800-meter run to the mile and Ben Luss and Brian Solano figure to be in the mix for mid to long distance runs as well.
Naike Williams, who recently committed to play football at Morrisville College, is bringing his athletic ability to the track team this spring and Dottin is excited to have him. Williams is a gifted sprinter and jumper, Dottin said, but he could help give the 4x400-meter relay team an edge over opponents this spring. Castillo, Luss, Serrano and Solano can all run on that relay team.
Mount Sinai will be tough to dethrone as the League VII champion this spring, since it has nationally-ranked Kenneth Wei to go along with a bevy of other athletes, but Dottin said his team should be able to hold its own with the other teams in the league this season. Those include Bayport/Blue Point, Elwood/John Glenn, Hampton Bays and Shoreham/Wading River, which has dropped down from League VI.
Southampton hosted Bayport on Wednesday and will be at Glenn on April 2 at 4:30 p.m.