05/13/11 2:03pm
05/13/2011 2:03 PM

BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Kayleigh Macchirole has signed a national letter of intent for Wagner College.

Kayleigh Macchirole will, in effect, be trading in one green uniform for another, but still, it’s a big move.

The Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School senior signed a national letter of intent on Friday to accept a full track and field scholarship from Wagner College that is valued at $22,000 per year.

“It’s a little scary, but I’m also like really excited because I really like track, and knowing that I’m going to be able to go to a college and be able to do something that I really love doing is a really good feeling,” she said.

Macchirole is undoubtedly a winner. She has known little else during her time at McGann-Mercy.

The signing ceremony at the school’s renovated chapel came two days after the undefeated Monarchs (6-0) sealed their third straight Suffolk County League VIII dual-meet championship with a 95-54 victory over the Port Jefferson Royals. “It’s been a really exciting week because Port Jeff is such a big thing and now I’m signing with Wagner,” said Macchirole, who had also considered Sacred Heart College (Conn.), Assumption College (Mass.) and Bryant University (R.I.).

Macchirole, a Greenport resident, has never seen the Monarchs lose a dual meet in her three years on the team,. During that time the Monarchs went 21-0. An accomplished tennis player as well, she has never experienced a losing season at the school in any sport.

“Mercy is very, very proud of Kayleigh,” McGann-Mercy’s athletic director, Paula Nickerson, said. “She’s definitely competitive and you can see that she means business when she’s out there on the track, and that’s what I like about her.”

Macchirole, who was a member of McGann-Mercy’s all-state 4×400-meter relay team last year, has been enjoying quite a season. She has recorded personal records in the 100 meters (12.9 seconds), 200 (26.6), 400 (1:00.4), 800 (2:29), discus (86 feet) and the shot put (29-11 1/2). It hasn’t been by accident, either.

“Kayleigh comes to practice every day and really wants to get better,” Gregg Cantwell, the team’s assistant coach, said. “She has goals. She sets them high enough where they don’t come real easy, and she knows she’s not going to get there without any hard work.”

Macchirole has come a long way since first taking up track and field as a sophomore.

“I like how competitive it is,” she said. “After my race, it’s really a nice feeling to know that you did your best. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of really hard work. Even when you don’t want to do it, you still always have to.”

A team leader who leads the team in warmups along with fellow captain Olivia Schumann, Macchirole sets an example for younger athletes. Even though the race will mean nothing to her personally, she will run in the 4×800 relay at the Loucks Games in White Plains on Saturday in order to help four teammates who are trying to reach a qualifying time for the state qualifying meet.

“She’s running another hard race that she doesn’t want to do because it’s not her favorite, just to help the team,” Cantwell said. “That’s what kind of a leader she is.”

Macchirole, whose younger sister Delaney is an eighth-grader on the team, has more work ahead of her. She said she wants to run in a national meet and break 1:00 in the 400.

Cantwell said he knew Macchirole is capable of running at the NCAA Division I level for the Seahawks.

“She’s going to fit right in, and hopefully she just takes off and hits the ground running,” he said. He added: “Unfortunately, we have to lose Kayleigh, but that’s how it works. It’s tough losing a senior, one of your top point scorers and one of the most well-rounded, nice kids on the team. You can’t really replace a kid like that.”


05/11/11 11:12pm
05/11/2011 11:12 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Olivia Schumann won three individual events, helping Bishop McGann-Mercy capture its third straight league championship.

Three consecutive years as the Suffolk County League VIII girls track and field champions.

Make that three successive years as unbeaten champions.

Yet, it never gets old for the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs.

“You can’t ever say that it gets tired because every season you get new kids in,” Coach Tricia Nunez said. “It’s a great accomplishment for any coach to be able to get a team to that point. It’s all them. All we do at this point is cheer. We’ve given them the workouts. We’ve given them the training. And when they come to the meets, we’re here to cheer them on and support them.”

Nunez and her assistant coach, Gregg Cantwell, had plenty of reasons to cheer and be cheerful as the Monarchs (6-0, 6-0) clinched the title in their last dual meet of the season, a 95-54 win over previously unbeaten and host Port Jefferson Royals (5-1, 5-1) last Wednesday.

“Its really exciting,” said senior Olivia Schumann, who won three individual events and was part of a winning relay team. “We work so hard. We train in the rain and snow. It’s so exciting especially [since] it’s my senior year because we just really wanted this.”

Another senior, Kayleigh Macchirole, who captured three events and finished second in another, admitted she entered the meet with some trepidation because she knew how good the Royals were.

“Well, for the team, I was really nervous because I know Port Jefferson is the team to beat,” she said “They are our biggest competition in the league. We all kind of brought our ‘A’ game today.”

Many of the Monarchs did on a sunny and warm afternoon, although Schumann and Macchirole were not at full strength.

Macchirole fought a cold and slept on the team bus on the way to the field. “I was a little tired,” she said.

But not tired enough to slow her down en route to wins in the 200-meter run (26.6 seconds), shot put (29 feet 11 1/2 inches) and discus (86-2), Macchirole took second to teammate Sasa Vann in the 400, who won in 59.4.

“I’m satisfied,” said Macchirole, who noted that she achieved three personal records. “I cut off a lot of time in my 200. I was close to the my goal in the shot put and I threw a lot over my PR in discus.”

Schumann said she had “really bad shin splints.” Yet, she emerged victorious in the 100 (13.0), 400-meter intermediate hurdles (1:09.9), the high jump (4-10) and anchored the winning 4×100 relay team (53.1).

“I kind of coasted,” she said. “They told me not to kill myself. I’m running this weekend, so they wanted me to try to take it easy if I could.”

It’s not an easy balancing act when you’re trying not to overdo it while striving to win.

“A lot of it is knowing what the other team has,” Schumann said. “If you don’t, then you kind of suck it up and run. I don’t feel the pain when I’m running. I just feel it after the fact. I’ll worry about that when the race is over.”

Nunez said that having talented competitors and role models such as Schumann and Macchirole has been an absolute joy.

“They’re [the] kind of athletes that a coach dreams of having,” she said. “And having two of them on one team, you feel like you’ve hit the Lotto. On top of their extremely talented abilities on the track, they’re super people that work for the team.”

Other Monarchs who won included Meg Tuthill in the 800, Isabella Franz in the 1,500 and Lindsay Gelling in the 1,500 racewalk. McGann also finished first in the 4×400 relay (4:32) and 4×800 relay (11:10.2).

But the biggest surprises came in the 400 intermediate hurdles and the 800. Tori Cataldo, running the 400 intermediate hurdles for the first time, finished second in 1:13.8.

Fiona Nunez took 20 seconds off her time in the 800 for a personal record.

“You usually don’t see something like that,” the coach said. “She ran the 800 at the beginning of the season and really struggled with it.”

05/11/11 10:53am

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.”


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.


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.