In a 4 x 100-meter relay, every handoff is crucial. One small misstep can be all that it takes to squash a top time.
When McGann-Mercy’s relay team ran the preliminaries of the Division III Championships Monday at Connetquot High School, a shaky handoff between the first two legs served as important reminder. Back at practice the next day, the Monarchs spent a good chunk of time rehearsing the critical handoffs.
The extra work paid off Wednesday in the finals.
The Monarchs executed to perfection and clocked their fastest time of the season, racing to first place in 50.82 seconds. The relay win highlighted a superb all-around day for the Monarchs, who finished the two-day championship in fifth place in Division III with 39 points. Bayport-Blue Point ran away with team title with 146 points.
The relay team featured senior Danisha Carter, juniors Delaney Macchirole and Julianna Cintron and sophomore Adafih Blackburn.
Macchirole put the Monarchs in front on the third leg before handing off to Carter — the Monarchs’ top sprinter — to close it out.
“[Carter's] always been able to chase girls down who are in front her,” said Mercy coach Collin Zeffer. “I knew if she got the handoff even in second or third maybe, she would be able to come back.”
The Monarchs edged out East Hampton (51.63) and Amityville (52.17) for first place. A similar effort next week at the Section XI state qualifier should send the Monarchs to the state championship.
Zeffer said it was just the fourth time this season the Mercy quartet ran the 4 x 100. When they first ran the race, Zeffer said he didn’t know what time to put as seed. He marked down 56 or 57 seconds, he said. The team ran 52.0, good enough for fourth place at the Suffolk Coaches Meet in early April.
“That’s where it all started,” Zeffer said. “We had the idea we could go this far, win divisions, go to state quals, do well there and move onto states hopefully.”
Carter ran the 200 and finished second in the finals with a personal best time of 25.86. She came into the meet with a seed time of 26.23, then ran 26.49 in the preliminaries.
Ashley Lucas of Babylon won the race in 25.74. Carter would need to top Lucas at the state qualifier to earn a trip to states.
The Monarchs had a welcome surprise in the 4 x 800 relay with a second-place finish. The team of senior Delina Auciello, sophomore Meg Tuthill and freshmen Madeleine Joinnides and Kaityln Butterfield ran 9:48.09, well below their seed time of 10:14.48.
Zeffer said Joinnides and Butterfield were both running on fresh legs. Most of the runners on other teams were in multiple events.
“We had more fresh runners and that kind of helped us out,” Zeffer said.
Auciello and Tuthill both doubled up for Mercy. Auciello, who was slowed by a foot injury most of the season, ran the 2,000 steeplechase and finished third with a season’s best time of 7:43.76.
“To come back and get third in the steeplechase is big for her confidence,” Zeffer said. “She’s close to Courtney Dooley of Bayport. That’s who we’re looking at for state quals.”
Dooley ran 7:38.55. Another Bayport runner finished right behind Auciello in 7:43.76.
Tuthill ran the 1,500 and finished sixth in 4:56.04. It wasn’t her best time. She came in with a seed of 4:46.7. After running a personal best time in the 800 Monday, Tuthill had her hopes set on another PR in the 1,500.
Zeffer said Tuthill went out a bit too fast in the 1,500, running the same split time for the first 400 meters as she did in the 800.
“We haven’t run the 15 in a while,” Zeffer said. “Probably about a couple weeks. I think it’s just a matter of separating those two races and being able to go out more conservatively in the 15.”
Shoreham-Wading River eighth-grader Katherine Lee finished third in the 1,500 in 4:47.91. Teammate Alexandra Hays, a freshman, was fifth in 4:54.87.
The Wildcats finished seventh as a team with 27 points.
In the 200, freshman Alex Kuhnle was fifth in 27.11. The Wildcats’ 4 x 400 relay team of Lee, Kuhnle, sophomore Megan Kelly and freshman Amanda Dwyer ran 4:07.75 for third. The 4 x 800 team of Lee, sophomore Kaitlyn Ohrtman, Hays and freshman Payton Capes-Davis ran 9:59.75 for fourth place.
Freshman Courtney Wrigley cleared 4-08 in the high jump for fifth place.
In Division II, Riverhead junior Rachel Clement was fifth in the pentathlon with 2,128 points. She scored the most points in the high jump by clearing 4-7 3/4.
Senior Maddie Blom threw 36-6 1/2 in the shot put for third place. In the 400-dash, junior Ashley-Ann Courts finished fifth in 1:01.48.
Senior Robyn Schneider was fifth in the pole vault by clearing a season’s best 9 feet. Teammate Danielle Thomas cleared 8-6 for a tie of sixth place.