Captained by Nasir Youngblood, Johnathan Smith, Justin Stevens, Isaiah James and Eric Sands, the team included 52 high-spirited athletes. The Blue Devils were coached by Ronald Wilson and Eli Acosta.
Huntington won the Suffolk League III crown and the Section XI large school championship. The Blue Devils went on to capture NYSPHSAA and State Federation titles in the 4x400m relay and place fourth in the New Balance Nationals Indoor. The team’s sprint medley relay won the “emerging elite” division at the nationals.
Huntington’s honorees included:
All League: Anthony Joseph, Jonathan Smith, Nasir Youngblood, Jason Turner, Jaylen
Bush, Eric Sands, Joe Garetano, Jaden Bholan, Justin Stevens, Isaiah James, Trevan Meagher, Jahmar Francis, Gary Barash, Rahliek Thomason, Josiah Melendez, Aidan Heller, Carlos Martinez, Andrew McKenzie, CJ Kiviat, Craig Haas
All County: Johnathan Smith, Anthony Joseph, Justin Stevens, Isaiah James, Jahmar Francis, Nasir Youngblood, Josiah Melendez, Eric Sands, Gary Barash, Rahliek Thomason, CJ Kiviat, Jason Turner
All Long Island: Johnathan Smith, Isaiah James, Justin Stevens, CJ Kiviat, Anthony Joseph, Eric Sands
All-State: CJ Kiviat, Isaiah James, Justin Stevens, Anthony Joseph and Johnathan Smith
All American: Johnathan Smith, CJ Kiviat, Anthony Joseph, Isaiah James, Justin Stevens
“What a sensational year,” Wilson said. “These young men performed well in just about every event from the first meet of the season to the last meet at the nationals. We are extremely proud of the progress these young men made this season. Their outstanding performances have once again brought national prominence to this school and community. We won league, county, state and national titles. The great thing about this team is that the majority of them are underclassmen.”
The team’s top performers included:
Senior Johnathan Smith: sprinter, jumper, 4x400m relay, 4x200m relay
“Smith has developed into a phenomenal sprinter for us,” Wilson said. “He’s hardworking and is always looking to improve every time he steps out on the track. He was our top sprinter this year earning a trophy for being one of the top five athletes in Suffolk County.”
He ended the indoor season No. 1 in Suffolk in the 600m dash with a time of 1:20.34, which is just short of the county record set by Infinite Tucker in 2015 when he ran 1:20.26.
Smith was the talented anchor leg for both of Huntington’s relay teams, which were among some of the best in the country this indoor season. His best split came at the state championships when he split 48.31 in the 400m relay. His best split in the 4x200m relay was 21.9.
Sophomore CJ Kiviat: 300m, 600m, 4x400m relay, 4x200m relay
“Kiviat has emerged as one of the top 400m sophomore sprinters in the state, arguably in the country,” Wilson said. “Such great potential in this young man. If he works hard in both the classroom and on the track, CJ will have an opportunity to go to any school of his choice.”
He ended the season as the No. 4 sophomore in the 600m dash in the state with a time of 1:24.70. Kiviat was also the brilliant lead leg runner on Huntington’s 4x4oom relay team. His best split was 50.67 when the Blue Devils won Millrose Games. He also split 22.6 on the 4x200m relay team.
Senior Eric Sands: shot put, weight throw
“Sands was one of our top throwers this year with marks of 49-11 feet in shot and 56-09.50 feet in weight throw,” Wilson said. “He earned All-League and All-County honors in both events and advanced to the state championship in weight throw where he threw 55 feet. His throw of 56-09.50 feet is now our new school record.”
Sands earned medals in both events at the Long Island Elite Invitational at St. Anthony’s. “His hard work and dedication is unmatched by any thrower we’ve had in quite some time,” Wilson said. “We are hopeful that he will do spring track this year.”
Junior Gary Barash: shot put, weight throw
“Barash, one of our top throwers in shot put and weight, showed tremendous improvement, Wilson said. “He threw a personal best of 47-09 feet at the county meet to place fifth. He then went on to throw 52-11.50 feet in the weight throw to earn All County honors.”
Relays: 4x200m, 4x400m, sprint medley relay
The 4x200m (Nasir Youngblood, Josiah Melendez, Anthony Joseph, Jason Turner) performed well all season long. “They surprised everyone when they went on to qualify for the state championship, edging out Central Islip with a time of 1:33,” Wilson said. “A freshman and three sophomores should do well next year.”
The 4x400m relay team consisted of CJ Kiviat, Justin Stevens, Isaiah James, Johnathan Smith and alternates Anthony Joseph and Jahmar Francis.
“Stevens started the season off looking great, but sustained an injury early on that sidelined him for weeks,” Wilson said. “However, he rebounded and at nationals ran a great split second leg of 49.9. We are looking for him to do some great things this spring season. He will be returning next year.
James stepped in for Stevens and did an exceptional job keeping Huntington in the forefront. “His best split of 50.51 came at Millrose as our second leg,” Wilson said. “James has great strength and great speed. He is a warrior and will fight on the track till the bitter end. He’s only a sophomore so we are definitely expecting some great things from him. Joseph has been a constant runner on both relays. His best split of 50.25 also came at Millrose. He’s an awesome sprinter and is full of talent.”
Francis also enjoyed a breakout season as a seventh grader. “Yes, he’s just a seventh grader and he has done a phenomenal job stepping in as an alternate on this relay,” Wilson said. “His best split of 54.6 came at the state qualifier. He is the No. 1 seventh grader in the country in the 300m dash. He ran 39.24 at Dartmouth. He is going to be something special. Lookout.”
The Blue Devils shined when it counted most. “This was a talented group of athletes that believed in one another,” Wilson said. “They gave their best efforts at every meet. I’m very proud of their accomplishments this season. They made coming to practice enjoyable for me.”
Looking ahead to 2020, Huntington looks to be in a strong position. “Next winter we will still be young, but with experience,” Wilson said. “We will continue to be one of the top 400 meter programs in the county, arguably in the state. We are super excited about our young athletes and how they matured and grew in this sport. We will return some well-experienced throwers along with some decent hurdlers in Jaylen Bush and Rahliek Thomason. Justin Stevens and Isaiah James will be threats in the middle distance events while Aidan Heller, Jason Verville and Andrew McKenzie will be threats in the longer distance races. These young men came in and played a vital role in our success this year. They are up and coming.”