SECTION XI INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS/STATE QUALIFIER
The lasting image of Maddie Blom on Friday was one of devastation. Having just completed one of her worst days throwing the discus, the Riverhead High School senior was hunched over, her emotions getting the best of her as she was being consoled.
Blom, who had been seeded fourth in the event for the Section XI Individual Championships/state qualifier, has thrown the discus as far as 113 feet 7 inches. On Friday, she fouled before turning in throws of 94 feet 1 inch and then 101, and her day was done. She finished a disappointing eighth.
“It destroyed me,” she later said. “I love this sport. To like go in there and not do my best, it was really hard for me to kind of just walk away from that.”
But Saturday was a new day at Port Jefferson High School. The second and final day of the meet was much kinder to Blom. Bearing a bright demeanor, she smiled and was in good spirits, for good reason, too. Blom turned in a throw of 38 feet 5 inches in the shot put, good enough for second place and a place in the state meet. Her distance was second only to the 40-10 posted by her friend and familiar foe, Half Hollow Hills West senior Oyinkansola Adewale.
After Saturday’s competition, Blom said she felt like a different person.
“It was like night and day,” she said. “Yesterday I was tight and I was really nervous, and today I just had fun and that’s what this sport is all about … having fun.”
Riverhead coach Maria Dounelis said: “Yesterday was tough for her. She was very upset, but you know what? She redeemed herself. She came back. That’s what an athlete has to do.”
Blom seemed determined to forget about her discus disappointment and not let it affect her chances of qualifying for the outdoor state meet for the first time. Following Friday’s competition, she said, “I went home and I really thought about it and I said to myself, ‘That won’t happen again. I will not let them walk all over me today,’ and I didn’t.”
Blom wasn’t too far off her personal record of 40-7 in the shot put. She was the No. 2 seed behind the favorite, Adewale, but still facing pressure. Seeds are no guarantees of performance.
“You got to go out there in the circle,” Riverhead’s throwing coach, Bill Hedges, said. “You got to perform. She had one of her best efforts today.”
Now Blom is headed to the state meet, which will be held June 6 and 7 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, and she is relishing the moment.
“I can count how many shot put throws I have left on one hand almost,” she said. “It’s really emotional for me because I love this sport.”
Bishop McGann-Mercy sophomore Meg Tuthill booked a trip to the state meet, taking second place in the 800 meters in 2 minutes 15.71 seconds. It reduced her personal record by 2.4 seconds. She finished behind Elwood/John Glenn senior Sarah Hardie, who won in 2:11.21.
“She told me she didn’t know she was running that fast,” Bishop McGann-Mercy coach Collin Zeffer said of Tuthill. “I think she shocked me and she shocked herself, and I think she definitely shocked a lot of other runners in the race.”
Shoreham-Wading River freshman Alexandra Hays was second in the 3,000 in 10:23.92. She followed Connetquot senior Erin Melly (10:16.41) to the finish line.
It was the fastest time Hays has ever run, but it still wasn’t fast enough to meet the qualifying standard for the state meet.
“I wouldn’t change anything about the way I ran,” Hays said. “It’s just a hard time to qualify for.”
In the 1,500, Shoreham eighth-grader Katharine Lee finished fourth in 4:50.19. She was one place ahead of Tuthill (4:53.70).
One of the more interesting stories of the day was that of Riverhead pentathlete Rachel Clement. The junior, who was seeded 13th, finished sixth. But the really noteworthy fact was her points total: 2,466. It tied a school record that Klurissa Williams set in 2004.
What are the odds of that?
Clement said she was laying down, dehydrated with a headache, when coaches told her that she had matched the school record. “I started crying immediately,” she said.
Clement said: “I missed the record last year by like 42 points, which is literally like two or three seconds in the 800. … It’s nothing, but if you look at the points it’s everything.”
Clement’s pursuit of the record is an achievement that was two years in the making. In the pentathlon’s five events, she was 11th in the 100-meter hurdles (18.04), tied for third in the high jump (4-10 1/2), second in the shot put (29-1 1/4), 15th in the long jump (13-4 1/4) and third in the 800 (2:38.36).
Clement said that while she was competing, she thought of her ill grandmother, who has been in and out of hospitals.
“I was just thinking of my grandma the whole time and how I just have to do it for her,” she said. She added: “I can finally say that I did it. I can walk away with a smile, that’s for sure — and a few tears.”