The 2014 Suffolk County League IV boys track and field championship came down to one event, the final event in the final dual meet of the season between East Islip and Riverhead.
“Heartbreaker, man,” said Riverhead coach Steve Gevinski, recalling the painful memory.
East Islip defeated Riverhead in that final event, the 4×100-meter relay, and with it took the league title.
“We lost by three or four feet and that was the whole meet,” said Gevinski, whose team last won a league title six years ago. “The kids were devastated. It was exciting, though.”
One thing is for sure: The Blue Waves (5-1 last year) will not be able to win the League IV crown this year. That is because they have been bumped up to League III, where they will join Bay Shore, Copiague, Half Hollow Hills East, Smithtown East, Smithtown West and Walt Whitman. The only one of those teams Riverhead has competed against in recent years is Copiague.
“The outlook is unknown because we’re in a new league with new competition,” Gevinski said. “We haven’t gone against these teams, so we’re going to have to rise up.”
Jacob Robinson, a senior sprinter who is coming off what Gevinski called a “great” winter season, is a genuine talent. The Blue Waves have more of them, like senior hurdler Andrew Smith, junior middle-distance runner Luke Coulter and two brothers who run long distance, sophomore Eric Cunha and senior Nick Cunha.
In the throwing events, Riverhead has two seniors who have thrown the shot put 50 feet, Ethan Greenidge and Troy Trent. Another senior, Alex Heimroth, and junior Jaden Blom throw the discus.
The Blue Waves are retooling their pole vaulting, with sophomores Kyle Gevinski (the coach’s nephew) and Brendan Krumbeigel.
For more point producers, look for junior jumper Curtis Flippen, senior hurdler Ryan Diresta and junior sprinter Marcus Reid.
Riverhead’s school population has gone up, and that is reflected in the size of the team’s 80-athlete roster.
“It’s a lot,” said Gevinski.
Gevinski sounded excited about the new track that has been laid down at Riverhead High School. He spoke about the jumping pits, the steeplechase barrier and two shot put rings that have been put in place.
“This thing is done to the nines,” he said. “It’s a first-class track all the way.”
Bishop McGann-Mercy’s coach, Les Williams, notes that there is a direct correlation between training and performance. “I think if we work hard, you’re going to have the result your way,” he said. “Hard work always brings good success.”
That message apparently got through. Nine Monarchs (2-5) earned all-league status last year.
Dale Kelly, a junior, was second among Suffolk small school runners in the 400 meters in 51.4 seconds. “He’s very hard-working, very devoted, very smart,” said Williams.
Ed Kneski was all-league in the high jump. The senior has cleared 5-8. He can also throw the shot put, the discus and triple jump. Alex Frabizio, a junior, can handle hurdles and run anywhere from 100 to 800 meters. Shot putter Andrew Schlosberg, sprinters Reggie Archer and Bereket Watts, 800 runner Ryan Tyniec, hurdler Isaih Pendzick, and long-distance runners Connor White and Dan Dern are also expected to contribute.
Asked about his ambitions for this season, Williams, who is assisted by his wife, Elaine, said, “To have a nice league record is nice, but we have quite a few kids who can go further than just the league.”
Shoreham-Wading River coach Brian Wrinkle did not return phone messages.