Track & Field: Villa, Udvadia earn spot on the podium

06/06/2014 10:15 PM |
Riverhead senior Charles Villa clears 14 feet 6 inches in the pole vault Friday at the state championships in Syracuse. (Credit: Hal Henty)

Riverhead senior Charles Villa clears 14 feet 6 inches in the pole vault Friday at the state championships in Syracuse. (Credit: Hal Henty)

NEW YORK STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Charles Villa first began pole vaulting in the spring three years ago as a freshman for Riverhead. Even in a sport that, by its nature, is difficult to begin as a youth, it was still a later start than for many of the top pole vaulters.

“Ever since then I loved it,” Villa said of his introduction to the sport. “I had so much fun.”

On Friday, Villa pole vaulted for the final time representing the Blue Waves. And with it, for now, came the end of an era. For the past several years, the Blue Waves have been flush with talented pole vaulters, from last year’s graduates Jonah Spaeth and Dan Normoyle, to Villa this year. 

Villa closed out his Riverhead career by accomplishing what his predecessors had done before him: earning all-state honors at the New York State Championships.

Villa cleared 14 feet 6 inches to finish fifth overall in the federation competition, which combines all the competitors from each division and private schools. Among just public school pole vaulters, Villa finished third.

The pole vault this year was an event of particular strength in New York. The fans who remained at Cicero-North Syracuse High School just past 7:30 p.m. nearly saw history when Fordham Prep senior James Deutmeyer attempted a state record 16-9. He narrowly missed on his last attempt, and had to settle for a personal record of 16-6, one inch shy of the meet record. Jordan Yamoah’s state record, set in 2011, is 16-8 3/4. He also owns the meet record of 16-7.

As Villa packed up his equipment, he couldn’t help but marvel at his competitors as the bar reached 16.

“Just looking at this, I really want to jump at this height right now,” he said. “It makes me want to push myself even more just to start jumping at this height.”

Todd Uckermark of Warwick Valley cleared 16-3 to finish in second place. His teammate Derek Dibona topped 15-6 for third and Iona Prep’s Ryan Herrera-Murphy cleared 15-0 for fourth. Fordham Prep and Iona Prep both didn’t count toward the final public school standings, which vaulted Villa to third.

Villa entered the competition at 14, a higher height than he typically started in previous meets this spring. He missed his first attempt but made his second.

Twelve vaulters still remained when the bar moved to 14-6. The first eight vaulters missed the height before Villa’s turn came. On his first attempt, he nailed it, putting himself in an ideal position to finish on the podium.

“It did make me feel like, all right, I got that down, I can get the next one,” Villa said. “But I also knew right away, as soon as I cleared that, I drifted off to the side and I bent the pole pretty badly.”

What that meant for Villa was he needed to use a bigger pole for his next height. He had, essentially, maxed out his pole.

On his attempts at 15 feet, Villa used a new pole that he had never used before, which he found to be stiffer than he expected.

“It was awkward for me to try to adjust to it,” he said. “My last attempt at it, I finally got a feel for it. But it unbent pretty quickly. If I had one more attempt, then I would have been able to adjust and get another feel for it.”

The pole he used was a 14-170, which refers to the length of the pole (14 feet) and the weight its rated for.

Normally, bumping up to a larger pole in a meet would have been nerve-wracking for Villa, he said. But he remained calm through the transition this time.

“Today I was like, I just got to out there and do it,” he said. “The only thing that stopped me was not being experienced enough to get a feeling for it.”

Villa, who will compete for the University of Binghamton next year, will still leave Riverhead as the school record holder for the outdoor season. His mark of 15-1 seems destined to stay for at least a few more years, until the next crop of pole vaulters emerge.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia finished fourth in the 3,200 Friday. (Credit: Hal Henty)

Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia finished fourth in the 3,200 Friday. (Credit: Hal Henty)

UDVADIA 4th IN 3,200

Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia ran 9 minutes, 9.65 seconds in the 3,200 to place fourth, his best finish at an outdoor state championship. Mickey Burke of Rush-Henrietta ran the winning time of 9:03.87.

It wasn’t a personal best for Udvadia, but was one his three fastest races of his career, he said.

The runners all stayed nestled fairly tight in a pack for most of the race. No runner was looking to jump out and have to set a pace. On the final lap, Udvadia ran his best split, but it wasn’t enough to stay with the top three runners  as they began to pull away.

Udvadia ran a superb final lap at the Section XI state qualifier last week to win the event. But as he noted after the race, those kind of kicks don’t happen every time. Still, he ran the final 400 meters in 1:04.5 seconds. Burke ran the only split under a minute. He ran his final lap in 59.8.

Udvadia will return to the track Saturday to run the 1,600.

McGann-Mercy senior Danisha Carter crosses the finish line first heat of the 4 x 100 relay. (Credit: Hal Henty)

McGann-Mercy senior Danisha Carter crosses the finish line first heat of the 4 x 100 relay. (Credit: Hal Henty)

MERCY RUNS PR

The McGann-Mercy girls 4 x 100 relay team ran a personal best time of 50.42 seconds to finish seventh overall in Division II. The team of Julianna Cintron, Adafih Blackburn, Delaney Macchirole and Danisha Carter continued a tradition of running a new best at every meet.

The team’s previous best was 50.82.

Carter also ran in the 200-dash and she finished in 26.43 for 18th overall.

Carter competed in the state meet one day after graduating from Mercy. She attended the school’s graduation ceremony Thursday night then traveled to Syracuse. She arrived around 2 a.m. Friday.

Sophomore Meg Tuthill ran the first of her two races at states Friday. She finished 24th overall in 2:19.77 and was 12th for Division II.

For Riverhead, senior Madison Blom threw 39 1/2 in the shot put for 12th overall. She did not advance into the finals.

joew@timesreview.com