In a dual meet setting, a one-two punch of versatile athletes can be a devastating blow for opponents.
The Riverhead Blue Waves have just that in senior Kevin Williams and junior Jeff Pittman, both of whom are coming off outstanding winter seasons in track and field.
Williams qualified for the state championship in the triple jump during the winter and Pittman narrowly missed qualifying for states in the 300.
Versatile athletes who can compete in a number of events, Williams and Pittman will be the anchors of the Blue Waves’ spring lineup.
“Both of those guys are top-five in the county,” said Riverhead coach Steve Gevinski. “Plus, they’re really great leaders.”
Pittman can run anywhere from the 100 to 200 to 400 while also triple jumping or long jumping. Depending on a meet, he can also work into any of the relays, although the 4 x 100 would likely be his best fit.
“I think he’ll have a great season,” Gevinski said.
In addition to being one of the top triple jumpers in the county, Williams will also run the middle distance events.
In the field events a big strength for the Blue Waves is the pole vault. The Wildcats can go four deep in the vault, which gives them a huge boost in dual meets. Junior Jonah Spaeth, who cleared 13 feet 6 inches in the winter, returns for the spring. Dan Normoyle, Nick Villa and Tarik Nelson round out the vaulting crew.
“That’s the area of our team we have the most strength,” Gevinski said. “We’ll do well in all of our dual meets.”
In the shot put the Blue Waves return senior Anthony Stimpfel, who was a league champion in the winter season by throwing 46-02. Senior Shawn Yarborough, a league champion wrestler during the winter, will throw the shot as well. Josh Blom will throw the discus.
In the distance events the Blue Waves return sophomore Travis Wooten and junior Anthony Galvan. Wooten will run the two-mile and Galvan the one-mile.
“Those kids are just getting stronger and stronger every season,” Gevinski said. “Between cross country, winter and spring they’re getting more and more experienced and they’re doing better and better. I expect big things from them this year.”
The most inexperienced part of the team right now is the hurdles and high jump, Gevinski said. If the Blue Waves can improve on those events as the season progresses, it’ll make them a lot stronger.
“We have inexperienced and young kids there,” Gevinski said. “Also we have some kids that are injured. If they can come off injuries and contribute to the team, I think those two factors are key to how well we’re going to do this season.”
The Blue Waves were set to open the league dual meet season against one of the top teams on Long Island Wednesday in Half Hollow Hills West.
“It should be a pretty competitive meet,” Gevinski said.
The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats will rely on the strength of their distance runners this season as they slide back down a league against more familiar opponents like Bayport and Mount Sinai.
Seniors John Lee and Tyler Keys lead the team after both put together strong seasons in the winter. Keys advanced to the state championship in the 1,000 and Lee just missed qualifying for states by one spot in the 3,200.
Keys will focus more on the 800 and 1,600 in the spring while Lee sticks to the 3,200.
“You have that versatility between the two of them to run relays and individual events,” said Shoreham coach Paul Anderson. “We’ll probably get them in invitational meets in their stud events and then they’ll cover us across the board in any middle distance race [in dual meets].”
Junior Tom Sager returns in the pole vault. He cleared 12-6 during the winter season and just missed qualifying for the state meet.
The Wildcats don’t have the depth of some of their teams in the past. They’ll rely on some their younger athletes to improve as the season progresses.
Kyle Fleming leads the team in the shot and discus and Max Maritato is the high jumper. Maritato was third in the league during the winter season after clearing 5-04.
“We’re trying to fill the gaps,” Anderson said.