When the members of the Shoreham/Wading River girls track and field team showed up to Southampton High School for a League VII dual meet on Friday, they realized early on that they’d forgotten an important piece of equipment: the pole for the pole vault.
According to the rules, teams are supposed to bring their own equipment, but Southampton head coach Eddie Arnold chose to “be a good sport,” as he put it, loaning a pole to the team he had never defeated in 18 years of coaching. He knew it was the right thing to do, but admitted a few days later that the move took on a decidedly bittersweet feeling after the Wildcats won the event and then went on to win the meet by a slim 78-72 margin.
Arnold went into the meet with his young and talented team feeling he had the best chance ever to get what would have been the program’s first win against Shoreham, a traditionally strong track team. Southampton was down by just one point, at 68-67, heading into the final events of the day, the three relays, needing to win two of them to take the victory. The Lady Mariners won the first event, the 4x100-meter relay, with Katey O’Brien, Amanda Maninno, Rebekah Moritz and Gabriella Arnold teaming up for the win. But Shoreham won the next two relays to take the match.
Southampton fell to 1-3 on the season, while Shoreham improved to 2-2.
The Wildcats had to give everything they had to beat the Lady Mariners, Arnold said, pointing out that a few Shoreham runners who competed in the 4x4 relay came back to compete in the 4x8, meaning those runners ran grueling back-to-back races in order to secure the win for their team. In trying to reflect on the meet and what he could have done differently to come up with the win, Arnold acknowledged that he could have used the same strategy, but said he did not want to ask his athletes to take on such a difficult task that could have left them too spent or, worse, resulted in an injury with the postseason looming on the horizon.
Despite missing out on the chance to beat the Wildcats, Arnold said he was happy with his team’s effort.
“I thought for sure this was the time to do it,” he said of assessing his team’s chances for a win going into the meet. “But we fell just a little short. I was proud of their performance, though. There’s no excuses. They were better than us that day. But I think on paper we’re better than they are.”
O’Brien had a great day for the Lady Mariners. In addition to running for the winning 4x1 team, she also won the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, and the 100-meter dash. Senior Riplee Mercer won the discus throw, while senior Megan Robinson was third; Bridget Ferguson won the high jump; and Lucy Wesnofske took second in the 3,000-meter race with a personal-best time of 12:13.
It was the last home meet of the season for the Lady Mariners. They are scheduled to compete in the Joe Brandi Relays at Connetquot High School on Monday, April 22, and will compete in the Westhampton Beach Invitational on April 27. They will finish the league dual meet season at Hampton Bays on May 1 at 4:30 p.m.
The boys fell to 0-3 in League VII with an 80-61 loss at Shoreham on April 12. Results from that meet were not provided. The Mariners will also compete in the Westhampton Beach Invitational, and will host Hampton Bays on May 2 at 4:30 p.m. The last dual meet of the season for the Mariners will be at Mount Sinai on May 6 at 4:30 p.m.