05/11/11 10:53am
05/11/2011 10:53 AM

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy freshman Fiona Nunez cleared this attempt in the high jump during last Thursday's dual meet against The Ross School/Pierson.

One meet for everything.

That is what the race for the Suffolk County League VIII girls track and field dual-meet championship has come down to. The Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs and the Port Jefferson Royals, who are both 5-0 overall and in the league, will compete for the title on Wednesday at Port Jefferson High School. Winner take all.

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Tori Cataldo, a sophomore, ran the 400 meters for Bishop McGann-Mercy last Thursday.

After an Easter break, the Monarchs had a lot on their plate last week, including a school record in the 4×400-meter relay.

Following their final home meet of the season, a 90-60 defeat of The Ross School/Pierson Ravens last Thursday, the Monarchs honored their four seniors — Michelle Borge, Kayleigh Macchirole, Olivia Schumann and Lauren Woodhull — by presenting them with flowers.

McGann-Mercy had a lot to feel good about. Tori Tremble won both the 400-meter intermediate hurdles and the 100-meter high hurdles. Tori Cataldo, a sophomore who is a three-year letter-winner, won the 400 and was also on the winning 4×100-meter relay team.

Lauren Valle made her much anticipated return to competition after an early-season hip injury. She competed in the 800 and took second by 1/10th of a second to freshman teammate Fiona Nunez. It was Nunez’ first time under 3 minutes for the 800.

Macchirole, Sasa Vann and Olivia Schumann all broke 28 seconds in the 200, with Woodhull just above 28 seconds to complete McGann-Mercy’s sweep of the top four places in the event.

Colleen Edwards and Lindsay Gelling went first and second, respectively, in the 1,500 racewalk.

Some of the Monarchs competed in the prestigious St. Anthony’s Invitational the next two days. The highlight of the meet for McGann-Mercy was the 4×400 relay. Vann, Macchirole, Woodhull and Olivia Schumann clocked a school-record time of 3:57.91. They improved on the previous mark of 3:58.57 that was set last year.

It is the second-fastest time in the county this year, and it qualified the Monarchs to run in a national meet in North Carolina.

Delina Auciello, Isabella Franz, Meg Tuthill and Emily Venesina all ran season-best times in the 800 on Friday night. Vann won the 400 in a season-best time of 1:00.6.

04/05/11 1:59pm
04/05/2011 1:59 PM

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Since coming to Riverhead from Southampton last year, freshman Kyra Braunskill has emerged as the Blue Waves' top sprinter.

Kyra Braunskill had been tagged as an up-and-coming sprinter for the Southampton High School girls track and field team. And then she moved to Riverhead last year.

Southampton’s loss was Riverhead’s gain. Southampton Coach Eddie Arnold evidently knew he had a gem in the making in Braunskill, and he kidded Riverhead Coach Maria Dounelis about the talent that had come her way.

Dounelis said Arnold told her, “You took my sprinter!” She recalled him saying, “Of all the middle school kids, Kyra, you had to take her?”

Braunskill, a freshman in her second season with the Blue Waves, is already regarded as Riverhead’s top sprinter, right in front of junior Tyesha Harrell.

“She’s just a naturally gifted athlete,” Dounelis said. “All the coaches have been so impressed.”

There has been a lot to be impressed about. For one thing, Braunskill has already been named a Riverhead athlete of the week. In the team’s first dual meet — a 79-71 win over the Bellport Clippers on March 29 — she took first place in the 100 meters in a personal-best time of 12.6 seconds, first place in the 200 in 27.0, and second place in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet 6 1/2 inches.

But perhaps even more encouraging than those numbers is the improvement Braunskill has shown since last season. “Dramatic improvement,” said Dounelis.

Braunskill, whose older brother Kyren was a track athlete for Southampton, said she didn’t like track when she was first introduced to the sport. But she said she is taking track more seriously than she did last year and has been encouraged by the strides she has made. “I saw more of my hard work paying off with my times coming down, so I kind of stuck with it,” she said.

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Fatima Brown, a junior in her fourth year with Riverhead, said confidence and a more positive outlook have helped her.

Dounelis is glad she did. The coach said Braunskill long jumped about 15 feet last year, but reached 16-8 a few weeks ago in a scrimmage.

“A light bulb clicked somewhere,” Dounelis said. “You could see the difference in her. When we’re on the track, she’s working hard. She’s going.”

Braunskill may be following in the footsteps of teammate Fatima Brown, a junior who has come a long way since she joined the team as an eighth-grader. Dounelis said Brown has shown a great degree of maturity and has emerged as one of the team’s leaders.

Brown, who captains the Blue Waves along with senior Wynisha Hatcher, has gone as far as 16-11 1/2 in the long jump, run the 400 intermediate hurdles in as fast as about 71 seconds, and has a personal-best time of 1:05 in the 400. She has recently tried the triple jump and wants to reach 30 feet in that event soon.

One thing that has changed for Brown is her living arrangements. Her mother, Mary, a former track athlete for the Blue Waves, moved from Hempstead and now lives with her daughter.

In addition, Brown has a new outlook on things. “I became more confident because last year, every time I didn’t do as good as I thought I could, I just got down on myself and I always criticized myself too much,” she said. “But I think I stopped doing that so much and I got better.”

Brown is coming off an indoor season in which she was an all-league selection in the long jump, her favorite event.

“She’s positive with the other kids,” Dounelis said. “I mean, she’s just a true leader, and she’s athletically gifted. Her biggest hurdle is her, but she’s finally starting to overcome that and doesn’t beat herself up because it’s a sport that mentally can beat you up.”

In the meet against Bellport, Brown ran a 66.8-second split time for a 4×400 relay team that included Destiny McElroy, Hatcher and Rachel Conti; they were timed in 4:25.1. That day Brown was also third in both the 400 intermediate hurdles in 1:14.2 and the long jump at 14-10 1/2.

Being that this is her fourth year on the team, Brown said she sometimes feels as if she is a senior, not a junior. Younger teammates seek her out for advice.

“That reminds me of how I used to be,” she said.

The best advice Brown can offer to the young Blue Waves is the same advice she tries to follow.

“Never have a negative attitude, always stay positive,” she said. “I know I don’t sometimes.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

03/31/11 7:39pm
03/31/2011 7:39 PM


BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Meghan Donnelly of Bishop McGann-Mercy won the triple jump with a distance of 28 feet 2 1/2 inches.


The Suffolk County League VII girls track and field meet on Thursday at Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School offered something of a surprise. Cold rain was one thing, wind was another, but how about some hail on the last day of March?

And then there was something that wasn’t surprising at all: another win for the Monarchs.

That’s just what they do.

The Monarchs didn’t allow nasty weather or the Center Moriches Red Devils to prevent them from continuing their winning ways. With their 92-37 season-opening victory, the Monarchs extended their dual-meet win streak to 20. Their last loss was to the Port Jefferson Royals on April 15, 2008.

“It’s a lot more motivation,” said McGann-Mercy senior Kayleigh Macchirole, who has never experienced a team loss in her three years with the Monarchs. “That’s a reason why I give everything I have at dual meets, because I want to win the dual meets, keep the winning streak alive.”

Winning has become as much a part of McGann-Mercy’s program as the equipment and the athletes, so much so that when one of the team’s throwers, Catherine Andes, was asked if the result was what she expected on Thursday, she replied: “Of course I expected it. Why wouldn’t I?”


BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy triple jumper Michelle Borge came in second place at 24 feet 2 1/2 inches.


Defending league champion McGann-Mercy, which went 7-0 last year, was led by Sasa Vann, who won three events. The junior finished first in the long jump (15 feet 7 inches), the 100 meters (13.5 seconds) and the 200 (28.2).

Two seniors, Kayleigh Macchirole and Olivia Schumann, won two events each for the Monarchs. Macchirole led a sweep in the shot put with a throw of 28-4 and breezed in the 400 with a time of 1:02.9. Schumann took first in the high jump at 4-2 and the 400 intermediate hurdles in 1:12.2.

What wasn’t entirely expected, however, was the weather. The meet was contested in difficult conditions to say the least.

“There was hail, there was sleet, there was wind, there was rain, a little bit of everything,” said Tricia Nunez, who is in her second year as McGann-Mercy’s coach.

Macchirole called the weather conditions the worst she has ever experienced while competing in a track meet. “They were horrible,” she said.

In light of the weather, athletes were permitted to compete in warmup suits and, since they had no bearing on the final result, the three scheduled relay races were not run.

Having lost only four athletes from last year’s team, McGann-Mercy remains a squad to be taken seriously. “They’re a great group of kids who are so committed and they’re very, very hard working,” Nunez said. “When you have that combination, there are all sorts of possibilities.”

Andes did well, winning the discus with a throw of 63-0 and taking second in the shot put at 22-10. Other Monarchs came though with winning performances. Meghan Donnelly’s triple jump of 28-2 1/2 landed her in first place. Emily Venesina was the first to cross the finish line in the 1,500 with a time of 5:44.2. Delina Auciello clocked 2:45.2 in the 800. Isabella Franz took second to no one in the 3,000 with her 12:06.1. In consideration of the inclement weather, the 1,500 race walk was shortened to 800 meters; Lindsay Gelling of McGann-Mercy was the first finisher in 4:34.5, beating out teammate Colleen Edwards by 2.8 seconds.

It was a convincing showing across the board.

“I knew they were going to be good, but I didn’t think they were going to be as good as they were,” Center Moriches Coach Dan Fournier said. “What makes a good team is working together and being consistent. They had some good athletes out there today.”

Last year McGann-Mercy capped its dual-meet season with a four-point win over rival Port Jefferson. The schedule-maker apparently has a sense for drama. Once again those two teams will face each other in the final dual meet of the year in Port Jefferson on May 11.

Hail is not in the forecast.

bliepa@timesreview.com

03/23/11 11:43am
03/23/2011 11:43 AM

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Olivia Schumann remains a key runner for Bishop McGann-Mercy, which went 7-0 last year.

After winning the Suffolk County League VII championship last year, the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School Diocesan girls track and field team is aiming to repeat its performance and then some.

“We’re hoping to do better,” Coach Tricia Nunez said.

Do better? The Monarch finished at a perfect 7-0 and duplicating that would be just fine with the coach, although Nunez expects some individual improvement.

“That would be great,” she said. “We would love that. We definitely have a talented group of athletes. We’re hopeful and confident.

“They’re very committed and work hard. With a team like that, the possibilities are endless.”

Indeed they are.

The Monarchs are sparked by several exceptional athletes, including three talented seniors who can compete as sprinters or in the jumping events.

Olivia Schumann is coming off a winter season in which she won the county 300-meter title and was part of Section XI’s state champion medley relay team.

Kayleigh Macchirole and Lauren Woodhull also bring quality and versatility to whatever sprinting or jumping events they compete in.

Nunez said Macchirole is “one of those athletes who can do anything well.”

Junior Sasa Vann was one of the top five sprinters in the county last spring.

One of the most promising athletes is sophomore Cassidy Lessard, a former softball player who is slated to run long-distance races.

“She has a huge amount of potential she doesn’t realize she has,” Nunez said.

As for the rest of the youngsters, Nunez will get an opportunity to see how they handle the pressure of a dual meet when they host Center Moriches on March 31.

“It will be exciting to see them competing for the first time and see where they fit in,” she said. “That’s the beauty of track. There’s an event for everyone.”

Riverhead Coach Maria Dounelis knows the difference between winning and losing can be as simple as teamwork. Last year the Blue Waves (4-2) were hurt by their relay teams. “Every one of our losses came down to a relay,” she said. “It was tough. We had a nice core of kids. We could not complete our relays.”

If the Blue Waves can accomplish that this season, there could be a marked difference in their performance in League III because they certainly have the talent.

Junior Melodee Riley, the county champion in the triple jump, leads the way. She also can compete in the long jump, 400 intermediate hurdles and 4×100 relay team. She is joined by two other talent juniors — Tyesha Harrel (100, 300, triple jump, 4×100 relay) and Fatima Brown (long jump, 400 intermediate hurdles).

“We’ve got a good base of young jumpers and sprinters,” Dounelis said.

Dounelis is hoping for a healthy senior Wynisha Hatcher to sparkle in the high jump, triple jump and 400. Hatcher was moved up to the varsity as an eighth grader, but endured injury problems the last two seasons.

Freshman Kyra Braunskill, who was also brought up as an eighth grader, is looking to compete in the 100, 200, long jump and relays. “We’re looking to throw her into the fire,” Dounelis said. “We have a couple of young kids who could do really well this year.”

Juniors Kerrysha Pittman and Rebecca Kerr-Smith will handle the spot put and discus. The pole vaulters are seniors Alex Ingram and Katie Ehlers.

The top middle- and long-distance runners include freshman Rachel Conti (800), senior Sarah Governale (800, 1,500) and Rachel Harrison-Smith (1,500, 3,000) while Destiney McElroy and sophomore Denise Braunskill are expected to compete in the hurdles.

“We need to develop the middle distance and upper distance program,” Dounelis said.

The Blue Waves will compete in a developmental invitational in Bay Shore on Saturday and then open up their league schedule at Bellport on March 29.

Before the start of the outdoor track and field season, every team needs at least one dress rehearsal.

“You got to have a scrimmage,” said Shoreham-Wading River Coach Paul Koretzki. “No matter how chaotic it is, you still got to get on the track and figure out where you’re going.”

The Wildcats are set to scrimmage against a familiar rival Thursday in Mount Sinai. The Wildcats and Mustangs have battled for the League VI crown over the last several years, but Shoreham bumped up a league this year due to an increase in enrollment.

Following their scrimmage, the Wildcats will open up the League V season March 30 against one of the top teams, Sayville, in what could be the deciding meet for the league title right off the bat.

The Wildcats bring back nearly all their top athletes from the winter season after they finished second in the indoor league championship and fourth in the small school county championship.

Back for the Wildcats are their two all-state finishers from the winter in senior Danielle Opatovsky and junior Shannon McDonnell. Opatovsky was the state and national champion in the race walk. She’ll continue in the walk in addition to running the 1,500 and relays. McDonnell will run anywhere from the 100 to 800.

Junior Audrey Kelly will the run the 1,500 and 3,000. Senior Mackenzie Pendergast, who was third in the 55 hurdles at the small school championship, will continue with the 100 hurdles.

Sarah Franck, a basketball player in the winter, will run the 3,000 along with eighth grader Rose Andrews. Senior Rebecca Troyano will compete in the triple jump and Cari Gostic will do the long jump.

Seniors Samantha Maier and Shannon Gallagher both throw the shot put. Freshmen Hannah Miller and Krista Braaten will both run sprints.

Joe Werkmeister contributed to this article.