03/01/14 6:54pm
03/01/2014 6:54 PM
Riverhead junior Jacob Robinson picked up a medal as a member of Section XI’s third-place distance-medley relay team. (Credit: Bill Hedges)

Riverhead junior Jacob Robinson picked up a medal as a member of Section XI’s third-place distance-medley relay team. (Credit: Bill Hedges)

NYSPHSAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

If ever there was a mystery event in high school boys winter track, it is the distance-medley relay.

In the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships, each section sends out a team usually consisting of runners from four different schools who have never run in a meet together. Each runner runs a different distance than his teammates.

The event is not usually run during the rest of the season, and with no previous results to refer to, which team will win is anybody’s guess. Even the runners themselves aren’t sure whether they are headed for a first-place finish — or dead last. (more…)

02/21/14 5:55pm
02/21/2014 5:55 PM
Riverhead junior Jacob Robinson clocked a personal-record time of 37.10 seconds to finish seventh in the 300-meter dash at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational. (Robert O'Rourk photo)

Riverhead junior Jacob Robinson clocked a personal-record time of 37.10 seconds to finish seventh in the 300-meter dash at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational. (Robert O’Rourk photo)

LONG ISLAND ELITE TRACK INVITATIONAL

Charles Villa, the standout Riverhead High School pole vaulter who thrills spectators by rising to greater and greater heights, made hearts sink on Friday. And it had nothing to do with his performance.

Villa, a senior preparing for his first state indoor track and field meet, saw his day come to an unexpectedly early end. While doing a so-called “short-step warmup” before the pole vaulting competition began in the Long Island Elite Track Invitational at St. Anthony’s High School, Villa’s left ankle landed awkwardly in an opening in the mat and he went down in pain. (more…)

02/23/13 12:00am
02/23/2013 12:00 AM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Dan Normoyle, one of three Blue Waves to pole vault 14 feet in the same meet, took first place in the Long Island Elite Track Invitational

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior Dan Normoyle, one of three Blue Waves to pole vault 14 feet in the same meet, took first place in the Long Island Elite Track Invitational

LONG ISLAND ELITE TRACK INVITATIONAL

After all the drama and all the excitement subsided, it was time for photographs. Photos for posterity.

Five smiling pole vaulters posed for photos in front of the pole vault mat, each athlete holding up one finger from one hand and four fingers from the other to represent the number 14. That is 14, as in 14 feet, the height each of them cleared.

Most high schools don’t have one pole vaulter who can clear 14 feet. Riverhead had three of them reach that height on Friday night.

Dan Normoyle, Charles Villa and Jonah Spaeth all reached 14-0 — along with two other pole vaulters — in the Long Island Elite Track Invitational at St. Anthony’s High School. Riverhead’s pole vaulting coach, John “Doc” Andresen, said it is the first time in the school’s history that three Blue Waves cleared 14 feet in the same meet.

“It’s never been done on Long Island, I don’t believe, certainly not in Riverhead,” he said.

Because the three Riverheaders handled 14-0 along with Smithtown West’s Karl Nilsen and Syosset’s Michael Wilkens, a tiebreaking procedure was used to determine the places. Normoyle finished first, Villa was second and Spaeth finished in a tie for third with Nilsen, leaving Wilkens fifth.

“I thought it was unbelievable,” Normoyle, a junior, said. “Five guys over 14 is just crazy. … It’s great to be part of the legacy of our school, to make a name for ourselves.”

For Villa, a sophomore, the height was a personal record. Villa said that as the bar was raised higher, he started getting nervous and began doubting himself a little bit.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia moved up from the middle of the pack and finished second in the 1,600 meters in a personal-best time of 4 minutes 17.26 seconds.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia (6) moved up from the middle of the pack and finished second in the 1,600 meters in a personal-best time of 4 minutes 17.26 seconds.

In the end, there was no need for doubt or nerves.

“It was great, all of us just getting 14,” Villa said. “It was just amazing.”

Villa’s first vault was at 12-6, with Normoyle and Spaeth entering the competition with the bar at 13-0.

One of the challenges of pole vaulting is dealing with the fatigue factor as the height rises.

“I was getting a little light-headed near the end,” said Spaeth, a senior who set the Riverhead indoor record of 14-6 earlier this season.

Pole vaulting can be a fickle event, as Andresen knows only too well. “Any time something goes wrong, we have the expression, that’s pole vaulting,” he said. “You know, it’s like a horse race, anything can happen.”

Spaeth will compete in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships along with Normoyle on March 2 at Cornell University.

“We’re coming to the point of the season where [personal records] start to weigh in,” Spaeth said. “This is when it’s supposed to happen, now.”

The Long Island Elite Track Invitational, which brings in many of the top athletes in Nassau and Suffolk counties, is seen as good preparation for the state meet. It surely was a good run for Shoreham-Wading River’s Ryan Udvadia and Jordan Wright.

Udvadia achieved several things with his race in the 1,600 meters. The junior posted a personal-best time of 4 minutes 17.26 seconds that was good enough for second place. The time should also place him in the seeded race at the state meet. Plus, the performance was a timely confidence boost.

“When you have good competition, it’s good,” Udvadia said. “Everybody says low competition, it’s easy to win, but I’d rather get second and do a great time.”

The one person Udvadia didn’t outrun was Northport senior James Dickinson, who won in 4:16.60.

“Coming into this meet, I didn’t see him as a threat, but he really came through,” Udvadia said. “He really did a great job, and he really pushed me to what I needed to do.”

Wright, competing in the 55-meter dash, also clocked a personal record, 6.65 seconds, to win his preliminary heat. The junior then posted a 6.67 in the final, good enough for third place.

Wright said the moments near the starting line before the gun goes off may test the nerves of some runners, but are important, nonetheless.

“It helps you a little bit, though, the adrenaline,” he said.

Two Riverhead juniors turned in sixth-place finishes: Davion Porter (5-10 in the high jump) and Marcus Moore (42-3 1/2 in the triple jump).

Porter said the quality competition helped him, too. “It gets you motivated and [helps you to] try to strive for higher heights,” he said.

Another Riverheader, senior Anthony Galvan, was 11th in the 1,000 in 2:43.51, slicing a second off his personal record. “That’s really something right there,” he said.

Riverhead sophomore Jacob Robinson finished first in the frosh/soph 300 in 37.73 seconds.

As the meet was winding down, and after Riverhead’s pole vaulters had finished their night’s work, the mild-mannered Andresen may have been among the most satisfied people in St. Anthony’s beautiful fieldhouse.

“He just had a smile on his face,” Normoyle said. “He doesn’t say much, but he was excited.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

02/18/13 8:00pm
02/18/2013 8:00 PM
COURTESY PHOTO  |  Riverhead pole vaulters (from left) Dan Normoyle, Jonah Spaeth and Charles Villa all cleared personal bests Saturday at the Armory in New York.

FILE PHOTO | Riverhead pole vaulters (from left) Dan Normoyle, Jonah Spaeth and Charles Villa finished first, second and fourth at the state qualifier. Normoyle and Spaeth will compete at states.

Every now and then, Sal Loverde, the Riverhead boys winter track coach, gives in to temptation, walks over to his pole vaulters and tells them what he thinks about their event. Typically, he says something like this: “Do you realize you’re completely insane with what you do?”

Loverde isn’t the first to question the sanity of pole vaulters, a fearless breed, to be sure. Pole vaulters are track and field’s daredevils, always trying to fling themselves to greater heights.

Over the years, Riverhead has built a reputation for producing some of the best pole vaulters in Suffolk County. Even so, the Blue Waves almost pulled off a rare feat last Wednesday when they nearly qualified three — count them: one, two, three — pole vaulters for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships that will be held March 2 at Cornell University. Two Riverhead seniors, Dan Normoyle and Jonah Spaeth, will compete in the state meet. Another Riverheader, junior Charles Villa, failed to qualify, but came oh so close.

“I would have been a little more surprised if we sent three up,” Loverde said. “I would not have been shocked, but I would have been a little surprised.”

Normoyle finished first in the state qualifying competition in Holtsville, clearing a personal-best height of 14 feet. His previous best was 13-4. Spaeth was second at 13-9.

Villa turned in a personal-best height of 13-6, which satisfied the state qualifying standard, but he needed to take third place in order to make it upstate. That spot, however, was taken by Smithtown West senior Karl Nilsen, who recorded 13-9 on his final vault.

It will be the first appearance in the state meet for both Normoyle and Spaeth.

Spaeth also competed in the Millrose Games, which were held Saturday at The Armory in New York City. He tied for third place in the high school competition along with Justin Farrenkopf of Ellenville and James Steck of Harrison. All three reached 13-9 1/4.

“That’s a very respectable day,” said Loverde.

Riverhead has been strong in the pole vault for at least 15 years, said Loverde. “We went from strong to off the charts,” he said.

Doc Andresen, the team’s longtime pole vault coach, is a big reason for that success.

“He’s a pole vault guru, and he does a phenomenal job,” Loverde said. “Year in, year out, we have competitive kids.”

Loverde said Riverhead introduces middle school athletes to pole vaulting through clinics, “and away they go. Once they plant and clear that first height, they’re on.”

Pole vaulting has been described as an addictive business, with athletes obsessed over propelling themselves higher and higher.

“If they can plant that bar and get up and never land, they’d be happy,” said Loverde.

Spaeth set the Riverhead indoor record of 14-6 earlier this season. Loverde expects the school’s outdoor record of 14-1 that was set by David Ludlum in the 1990s to be obliterated this spring.

“We have two kids that have been over 14 feet and one kid that is slamming on the door,” said the coach.

Riverhead’s top pole vaulters have some more vaulting to do before the state meet. They will compete in the Long Island Track and Field Invitational at St. Anthony’s High School on Friday and the Eastern States Championships at The Armory on Feb. 28.

Loverde knows only too well that anything can happen when it comes to pole vaulting. Predictions can be a risky business. For example, Riverhead’s pole vaulters failed to clear a height at last year’s state qualifier.

Loverde said, “It’s a very finicky event because there are a lot of things involved from the mental component to the physical component.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

01/29/13 3:14pm
01/29/2013 3:14 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Anthony Galvan set a school record in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10 minutes 31.17 seconds.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Anthony Galvan set a school record in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10 minutes 31.17 seconds.

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Ryan Udvadia has made quite a name for himself as a long-distance runner. What the Shoreham-Wading River junior accomplished on Sunday further added to that name.

Udvadia was a two-event winner in the Suffolk County League V Championships that were contested at Suffolk County Community College West in Brentwood.

In the 1,600-meter final, Udvadia flew to the finish line in a time of 4 minutes 35.62 seconds. His nearest competition came from Bayport-Blue Point senior Adam LaFemina, who was second in 4:42.57. Another Shoreham-Wading River junior, Keith Steinbrecher, came in sixth place in 4:55.15.

Udvadia also triumphed in the 3,200 in 10:03.80. Port Jefferson sophomore James Burke was second in 10:14.08.

Shoreham-Wading River also received second-place finishes from its 4×200-meter relay team (1:39.79) and senior shot putter Kyle Fleming, who recorded a throw of 44 feet 1 1/2 inches. (Shoreham-Wading River senior Charles DeMaio was fourth in the shot put at 43-8 1/2.)

The Wildcats also took third in the 4×800 relay in 8:55.07.

Shoreham-Wading River junior Jordan Wright was third in the 55-meter dash in 6.95 seconds.

A pair of sophomores, Colin Rickey (2:49.46) and Matt Gladysz (2:49.74), brought Shoreham-Wading River fourth and fifth place in the 1,000.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jeffrey Pittman, who has been battling a sore ankle, covered 18 feet 11 3/4 inches to take sixth place in the long jump.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jeffrey Pittman, who has been battling a sore ankle, covered 18 feet 11 3/4 inches to take sixth place in the long jump.

Shoreham-Wading River junior Max Maritato finished in a three-way tie for fourth in the high jump along with Mount Sinai junior Steven Boyce and Port Jefferson junior Daniel Gross. All three jumpers cleared 5-4.

Bishop McGann-Mercy’s 4×400 relay team clocked a time of 4:02.99 to finish fourth. The Monarchs also received sixth-place showings by junior Riley Knowles Join in the 1,000 (2:52.44) and senior Robert Folkes in the shot put (39-8).

Bayport-Blue Point was the top League V team with 128 points. Shoreham-Wading River (61 1/3) was fourth and McGann-Mercy (6) eighth.

A school record had been in Anthony Galvan’s sights for a while. On Sunday, he turned his dream into a reality, breaking Riverhead’s 3,200-meter indoor record by 3.07 seconds.

Galvan, a senior, posted a time of 10:13.17, which was good enough for third place in the League III Championships, not to mention a place in the Riverhead record books. The previous mark of 10:16.24 was set by Connor Marengo in 2006.

Finishing ahead of Galvan were North Babylon senior Kris Moran (9:56.50) and Hauppauge senior Ronny Cavaliere (9:59.97).

“He had a very deep personal commitment to breaking that record, and it certainly helps when you’re running with excellent competition to drive you to that,” Riverhead coach Sal Loverde said. “He’s a strong runner. He’s a committed athlete to his craft. He does all the work that he needs to do.”

Galvan also took fourth place in the 1,600 in 4:45.91 and ran a 2:12 leg in the 4×800 relay, which Riverhead took seventh in. “He had a great day,” said Loverde.

Riverhead finished fourth in the team scoring with 44 points. Half Hollow Hills West ran away with the league title with 125 points, 18 more than second-place North Babylon.

Loverde figured that Riverhead lost anywhere from 14 to 20 points by not having its best hurdler and best long jumper available to compete. Clifton Russell, a junior, was not feeling well and not present at the meet. “Not having Clifton Russell was a bit of an issue,” said Loverde.

But the Blue Waves still took 10 points from the triple jump thanks to the efforts of two juniors, Marcus Moore and Darren Jefferson. Moore finished second to Half Hollow Hills West’s Frederic Fils Aime (41-9 1/4) with a distance of 39-10. Jefferson, competing despite a sore ankle, was sixth at 38-8 1/4. Loverde said Moore landed a jump of around 41 feet, but lost distance when he tilted back upon hitting the sand, leaving a handprint.

Jefferson also grabbed third in the 55-meter hurdles in 8.66 seconds. His teammate, sophomore Andrew Smith, was fourth in 8.76.

Riverhead senior Jeffrey Pittman didn’t do too badly himself, finishing fourth in the 55-meter dash in 6.81 and sixth in the long jump at 18-11 3/4.

Pittman had been working on a reduced training regimen because of a sore ankle. “He did what he needed to do to keep us competitive,” said Loverde.

Another Riverheader, sophomore Jacob Robinson, was fifth in the 300 meters in 38.67.

“It brings to a close a league competition that was very good for us,” Loverde said. “The kids rose to the occasion.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

11/29/11 8:59pm
11/29/2011 8:59 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Kevin Williams will look to build off his success last spring as he focuses more on the running events this winter.

As a standout middle distance runner and jumper, Riverhead senior Kevin Williams often faced the difficult task of competing in a jumping event immediately after finishing a run.

“It made it very hard when you’re coming off an 800, 600 or 1,000 and having the triple,” said Riverhead coach Sal Loverde. “Your legs are gone.”

In the offseason, Williams and the coaching staff spent time discussing what the best route would be for him this year, beginning in the winter track season. The consensus was for Williams to focus on middle distance events, specifically the 600.

“I think that’s going to be a very strong event for him,” Loverde said.

Williams had plenty of success in the 600 last year. He finished third at the league championship behind seniors from Hills West and Bellport. He ended up eighth in the event at the large school championship.

Williams was a terrific triple jumper last year as well. And while that won’t be his main focus this year, Loverde said he’ll still get the opportunity to jump from time to time, especially in the spring season during dual meets.

Williams leads a balanced Riverhead team. Loverde said while the Blue Waves have been known for their sprinters and jumpers, this year’s group features a strong core of distance runners as well.

“Over the course of the last three or four years we’ve started to progressively start to garnish points and show improvement in the mid-distance areas,” Loverde said. “And that’s only excelled more especially with the strong cross country season that Riverhead had.”

The core of distance runners includes junior Anthony Galvan, freshman Nick Cunha and sophomore Travis Wooten.

Junior Jeff Pittman will be another key contributor for the Blue Waves. He’ll run sprints from the 55 through middle distance events like the 600. He can also triple jump and long jump.

“He’s just a phenomenal kid and a great leader in our program,” Loverde said.

Sophomore Clifton Russell is a strong long jumper who can also run sprints. Last year he finished second in the long jump at the league championship.

Fresh off a trip to the state championships in cross country, Shoreham-Wading River senior John Lee returns to lead the Wildcats’ winter track team. A defending league champion in the 1,600, Lee leads the Wildcats’ distance runners, which should once again make up a strength of the team.

Lee finished fourth last year in the 1,600 at the small school county championship. He’ll also run the 3,200 this year.

Senior Tyler Keys, who’s also coming off a strong cross country season, will run the 1,000 and 1,600. Last year he placed fourth in the event at the county championship.

Sophomore Ryan Udvadia, who was another all-county cross country runner along with Lee and Keys, will also run distance events.
Sophomore Jack Kelly, junior Dan Purschke and junior Keith Steinbrecher will all run distance events. Together they’ll make up the core of the Wildcats’ 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relay teams.

Junior Tom Sager returns in the pole vault, which is not contested until the end of the season at the state qualifier. Last year Sager just missed qualifying for the state meet after he cleared 10 feet. His teammate, Ben Canellys, was the county champion. Canellys graduated in the spring.

Sophomore Michael McDonnell is an all-around athlete who can do the triple jump, long jump and run sprints.

Junior Charles DeMaio returns in the shot put. Last year he was fourth at the league championship.

Shravan Joshi will run the hurdles.

Shoreham coach Bob Szymanski said he expects Amityville and Bayport-Blue Point to be the toughest competition within the league. The Wildcats finished in third place last year at the league championship.

The McGann-Mercy Monarchs return for their second season of winter track under coach Matthew Perry. The Monarchs scored nine points at last year’s league championship.

“I graduated a lot of seniors last year,” Perry said. “I still have some guys who have been performing well for us.”

The Monarchs return senior John Marano, who competes in the long jump and sprints. Perry said Marano can jump around 19 feet.

Marano is a captain along with Drew Rajotte who was injured last spring and is looking to bounce back in the shot put.
Patrick Derenze will run the distance events.

“We got a lot of new kids coming up and some young kids that are hopefully going to step up to the plate,” Perry said.

As the Monarchs begin the season, Perry said the focus will be on seeing where the starting point is for each kid.

“Are we starting off better than we did last year or about the same?” he said. “And where can we go from there to improve for a better end of the season compared to last year.”

Perry said the turnout has been about the same as last year when the Monarchs had 30 kids.

“They’ve been working really hard these first couple of weeks and I’m really proud of them,” Perry said. “That’s a true testament to our captains, who have been keeping everyone together.”

joew@timesreview.com

03/09/11 11:31am
03/09/2011 11:31 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead junior Kashaun Boynton reached the 55-meter high hurdles semifinals in the state meet before encountering misfortune.

None of the three Riverhead High School athletes took home medals from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys winter track championships this past weekend, but Coach Sal Loverde felt the competition was invaluable for Treval Hatcher, Kashaun Boynton and Jonah Spaeth.

“It was O.K.,” Loverde said. “It wasn’t our greatest day.

“It was a great experience. I know all of them would have preferred different results. We were happy with their competitive edge. It was a real, real good indoor track season for Riverhead. We’re very happy about that.”

But the state meet also was a frustrating one for the Blue Waves trio at Cornell University’s Barton Hall in Ithaca.

Hatcher, a senior, could second that. The senior enjoyed the best Riverhead finish, taking 14th place in the triple jump with a leap of 43 feet 7 1/4 inches. That was considerably less than his personal indoor best of 47-1.

“He did have a great try,” Loverde said. “He was on the board, off the board. He was upset with that. His ankle was a little bit sore. I don’t know if that played into that.”

Loverde said he would not be surprised if Hatcher reaches 48 feet in the spring.

Boynton, a junior, reached the semifinals of the 55-meter high hurdles with a personal-best time of 7.83 seconds. But then he had problems with several false starts by the starter, which could affect the competitors’ concentration.

“The starter, from my perspective, wasn’t very good,” Loverde said. “I haven’t seen so many false starts in my career.”

Boynton hit the first hurdle and did not finish the race.

“He was upset,” Loverde said. “I tried to explain to him that ‘You got to the semifinals.’ His earlier time would have put him on the podium, since fifth and sixth places finished in 7.85 and 7.89.

“He was a little discouraged by that.”

But Loverde said he sees big things ahead for Boynton.

“Here is a junior who catapulted to the next level of hurdling,” he said. “He won the county championship and qualified for the states. He had a phenomenal year.

“One of the things about Kashaun is that he is an athlete who doesn’t want to lose. He gets really prepared. It’s one of those great competitive spirits that he has.”

Loverde realized that the pole vault would be a challenge for Spaeth since the opening height at the meet was 12 feet. The sophomore’s season-best height was 11 feet.

“It was tough,” Loverde said.

Spaeth came very close to clearing the bar without incident.

“He was over it,” Loverde said. “He just nicked it going down.”

Loverde reiterated that Spaeth is a 10th grader. “He will be coming back with greater confidence next year,” he said.

And probably for the spring season as well because Spaeth will able to practice the pole vault every day as opposed to twice a week in the winter.