Blue Devil Girls’ Track Makes Strides

Huntington has a tight-knit team. (Steve Pisano photo.)

January 04, 2017

The Huntington girls’ indoor track and field team is gathering momentum. The Blue Devils have a somewhat surprisingly strong squad despite graduating many of their top performers last June and moving into the Suffolk’s large school division.

The past two weeks have seen Huntington showcase its current and future stars at a crossover meet against a set of county opponents and two invitational competitions that drew many of the top athletes in the metropolitan area and beyond. Head coach Debra Cheskes and assistant coach Shawn Anderson are pleased with the progress the squad has been making.

The Blue Devils continued their season long improvement in a recent crossover meet at Suffolk-West in Brentwood. Ryann Gaffney led Huntington in the 55m hurdles, finishing first in 9.07 seconds with Rebecca Caballero placing sixth in 9.91. Mardnie Mentor crept closer to the 10 second barrier, finishing in 10.16. Erin Morrisroe also hit a best of 10.32.

Erika Varady set a new school record in the 1500m race-walk by finishing in 7:44.16. Keily Rivas was second in 8:04.86. Nicole Arenth (8:56), Isabelle Fox (9:45) and Phoebe Walther (9:56) all recorded solid times in the event.

Alexis Pastorelli ran an indoor best of 11:31 on her way to a fourth place finish in the 3000m run while Hadley Clayton hit a lifetime best of 11:51 to capture fifth place.

In other action at the crossover meet:

• 55m dash: Hayley Mortell (8.55 seconds) and Vennyse Green (8.60) finished in personal best times.
• 1000m run: Niamh Condon (3:26), Ella Siepel (3:45), and Nina Danseglio (3:48) all hit personal bests.
• Shot put: Nephar Durand took third place with a toss of 30-11.25-feet while Jolena Smith finished a strong fifth with a throw that measured 30-05.50-feet. Sarah Agrillo had a personal best throw of 27.25-feet.
• Long jump: Marina Ruzic took third place with a leap of 16-02.75-feet.
• Triple jump- Mackenzie Joseph jumped 31-06.00-feet to finish fourth. Liz Berejka placed 10th with a leap of 30-01.00.
• 4x400m relay: Gaffney, Ruzic, Caballero and Dellecave won in a time of 4:23.95.

North Shore Invitational at the Armory

Huntington continued to sharpen its performances at the North Shore Invitational at the Armory in Manhattan. One of the highlights for the Blue Devils came when Rebecca Caballero placed sixth in a field of 60 competitors in long jump with a leap of 15-10.00-feet.

In other action at the Armory:

• 600m run: Marina Ruzic placed 14th in a time of 1:46.68. Sophie Dellecave also ran well, finishing in 1:53.48.
• 1000m run: Hadley Clayton won her heat after battling a set of determined foes every step of the way. She placed 20th overall in a personal time of 3:20.41. In only her second 1000m race ever, Keily Rivas won her heat, shaving 15 seconds off her previous time and placing 22nd overall in 3:22.45.
• 300m dash: Mackenzie Joseph turned in a personal best time of 46.77 seconds.
• 55m hurdles: Rebecca Caballero (9.94 seconds) and Mardnie Mentor (10.12) both made strides with their performances.
• Pole vault: Alexandra McKenzie cleared 7-06-feet in her first outing.
• Shot put: Nephar Durand launched the weighted ball 31-05.00 feet to finish 11th in a field of 71. Jolena Smith placed 20th with a throw of 28-09.00 feet.
• Weight throw: In only the second year of the event being contest, Huntington has developed a strong group of competitors. Nephar Durand set a new school mark of 31-11.00 to finish ninth while Jolena Smith recorded a throw of 29-09.00 feet to take 11th place. Previous record holder Mardnie Mentor (14th place; 26-04.75) and Maya Santa-Maria (15th place; 26-04.50) also performed well.

Ocean Breeze Holiday Classic at Staten Island

The Blue Devils completed the winter vacation by traveling to the Ocean Breeze Holiday Classic in Staten Island.

“It’s mainly a relay carnival,” Anderson said. “We had a lot of fun mixing and matching freshman and sophomores and having some of the girls compete in races different than their usual ones.”

Erika Varady lowered her school record time in the 1500m race-walk to 7:33.21 to finish third. (Her fastest outdoor time in the event is 7:30 and the teenager seems poised to break that mark in the spring.) Keily Rivas finished the race in 8:10 for seventh place.

In other action:

• Alexandra McKenzie tied for fifth place in her division in pole vault by clearing eight-feet.
• 4x200m freshman relay: Huntington’s top freshman team of Maya Santa-Maria, Lena Annunziata, Valerie Rogel and Karley Matthews finished in 2:10.
• 4x200m sophomore relay: The top team of Mackenzie Joseph, Hayley Mortell, Jenna Yabroudy and Ashlyn Case finished in 2:09.77.
• 4x200m: Catie Ricciardelli, Marina Ruzic, Ryann Gaffney and Rebecca Caballero dropped their best time to 1:52.08.
• 4x400m sophomore relay: Hadley Clayton, Sophie Dellecave, Keily Rivas and Colette Barron won their division and took sixth overall in a time of 4:35.79.
• Weight throw: Maya Santa-Maria (8th place; 28-05.00 feet) and Jenna Yabroudy (14th place; 26-06.75 feet) both notched personal best throws. Jolena Smith finished 13th with a throw of 26.07.00 feet.

“All in all, these three meets produced some solid performances, including the setting of new school records in the race-walk and weight throw,” Anderson said. “We have some areas to improve and work on, but with every day the team is taking a step in the right direction. As a side note, it was exciting to attend a meet where the boys were performing as well and seeing some drama in the 4x200 at North Shore, where Kyree Johnson caught the guy at the line and the 400 between Lawrence [Leake] and Kyree, as well as the 4x4 that only lost by.01 of a second. It was a very exciting time for Huntington track programs all together. Even more exciting is how the underclassmen on the boys and girls side are excelling, showing that the future looks very bright for these two programs.”

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Ryann Gaffney clears the hurdle for Huntington. (Steve Pisano photo)
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Ryann Gaffney sprints to the finish line. (Steve Pisano photo.)