02/12/14 11:09pm
02/12/2014 11:09 PM

Riverhead’s Charles Villa easily won the pole vault competition Wednesday night to earn a trip to the state championship. (Robert O’Rourk photo)

All it took was three vaults to send Charles Villa to the state championship.

Riverhead’s star pole vaulter — whose top height this season is nearly two feet higher than anyone else in Suffolk County — topped 14 feet on his third vault Wednesday night, clinching the Section XI title and a trip to the state championship. (more…)

01/04/14 2:23pm
01/04/2014 2:23 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Charles Villa at last spring’s outdoor state qualifier. Villa cleared 15-03 in the pole vault Saturday at the Hispanic Games.

Riverhead junior Charles Villa narrowly missed equaling a school record this afternoon by clearing 15 feet 3 inches in the pole vault at the prestigious Hispanic Games at The Armory in New York.

Villa, the top returning pole vaulter in the county this year, finished third overall in the competition. The Hispanic Games continue throughout the day. Athletes from Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River are competing.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH A LIVE STREAM OF THE HISPANIC GAMES

Last March, Dan Normoyle, then a senior, cleared 15-03 1/2 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. At the spring state qualifier in June, Villa finished second, sandwiched between Normoyle (first) and teammate Jonah Spaeth, by clearing 14 feet. But with his pole vaulting teammates having both graduated, the event has been Villa’s to own so far this year and he appears to have the record books well in his sights.

Records in the pole vault were set and broken throughout the season last year at Riverhead. Spaeth set the indoor school record  last year at the Stanner Games at The Armory, clearing 14-6, which Normoyle eventually topped later in the season.

The outdoor record is 15-0, set at the state qualifying meet last spring by Normoyle.

See a VIDEO of Villa’s vault below courtesy of Danielle Thomas:

12/27/13 7:00am
12/27/2013 7:00 AM
ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle.

For a track and field team to have one elite pole vaulter is a luxury. To have two? Even better. But three?

That’s just hard to imagine. But in 2013, the Riverhead Blue Waves had one of the most formidable pole vaulting trios any team could ever hope for.

Dan Normoyle, Jonah Spaeth and Charles Villa were often competing against each other at meets to determine the champion.

And at any given meet, it could be any of the vaulters with a top mark. At the state championship for the indoor season, Normoyle cleared 14 feet 6 inches and Spaeth cleared 14.

In the outdoor season, Normoyle and Villa qualified for the state championship. Normoyle again cleared 14-6 and Villa cleared 14. To qualify for states, Normoyle cleared 15 feet as the Blue Waves finished 1-2-3.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 sports stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.

06/16/13 10:00am
06/16/2013 10:00 AM
ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle.

It’s been a record-setting year for Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle in the pole vault. From the winter track season straight through the spring season, Normoyle and his Blue Wave teammates continued to impress with their ability to clear higher and higher heights.

Normoyle was one of several local athletes who wrapped up the spring season by competing this weekend at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina.

Normoyle, a senior, competed in the emerging elite division for the pole vault and finished in 11th place. He cleared 14 feet 8 1/4 inches. Eleven vaulters finished at the same height, including third-place finisher Josh Hopkins from Massachusetts.

Two vaulters topped that mark. Dylan Altland of New Jersey and Ian West of North Carolina both cleared 15-02 1/4. Altland took first based on fewer jumps.

More than 40 vaulters competed in the competition.

Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia ran the two-mile championship race and finished 18th in 9 minutes 21.43 seconds.

Two runners cracked 9 minutes, including Sean McGorty of Virginia who ran 8:45.61 to take first place.

Shoreham also had a girls 4 x 800 relay team run at nationals. The quartet of Laura Lee, Makayla Meeker, Rose Andrews and Kaitlyn Ohrtmann ran 9:43.71 to finish ninth in the emerging elite division.

05/23/13 10:45pm
05/23/2013 10:45 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle had little trouble on his entry height, easily clearing 13 feet 6 inches in the pole vault Thursday night at Connetquot High School.

DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS

At 7:13 p.m. Thursday night — the majority of events at the track and field division championships already completed — Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle sprinted down the pole vault runway for his first run-through.

For more than three hours, Normoyle, wearing sweats over his uniform, watched pole vaulter after pole vaulter compete in the division championships at Connetquot High School.

Finally, it was his time.

Electing to enter the competition at 13 feet 6 inches, Normoyle began at a time when 32 pole vaulters had already bowed out of the competition, leaving just four athletes still standing.

He had reason to be confident.

He easily soared over the bar at 13-6. And about 45 minutes later, in an intense competition featuring four outstanding pole vaulters, Normoyle set an outdoor school record by clearing 14-9.

What made the competition so great for Normoyle was the fact he was competing against two of his teammates. Sophomore Charles Villa set a personal best by clearing 14-6. He came awfully close on his second attempt at 14-9, just nicking the bar with his chest as he glided over.

Smithtown West senior Karl Nilsen matched Villa by clearing 14-6, but couldn’t equal Normoyle.

Riverhead senior Jonah Spaeth was fourth in the competition by clearing 13-6.

Normoyle attempted 15 feet three times just before the lights shut off at Connetquot.

Nilsen, who was persevered through a leg injury, was the first to clear 14-6 on his second attempt. Normoyle matched him on his next attempt, leaving it up to Villa to join them at the next height. On Villa’s third attempt he topped 14-6 for his personal best.

The four pole vaulters from Division II cleared higher heights than any pole vaulter from Division I or III.

See their top jumps below:

Dan Normoyle clears 14-9

Charles Villa clears 14-6

03/12/13 4:00pm
03/12/2013 4:00 PM
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 senior Dan Normoyle, shown at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational, set a school record Friday at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.

At the New Balance Indoor Nationals Friday, Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle cleared 15 feet 3 1/2 inches to set a school record in the pole vault. Normoyle was one of three Riverhead pole vaulters to compete at the meet in the emerging elite division.

Watch below to see Normoyle’s jumps:

03/09/13 10:59am
03/09/2013 10:59 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 FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle set a school record Friday in the pole vault at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.

Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle set a school record Friday by clearing 15 feet 3 1/2 inches in the pole vault at the New Balance Indoor Nationals at The Armory in New York.

Normoyle finished second in the emerging elite division behind Sean McEvoy of Fordham Prep, who cleared the same height but took first based on the number of jumps.

Normoyle came into the meet after a fifth-place finish at the New York State Championships last weekend when he cleared 14-06, which matched the previous record also held by senior Jonah Spaeth.

Spaeth had an impressive showing as well at the Nationals, clearing 14-03 1/2 for fourth place. Junior Charles Villa also competed in the competition but did not clear an opening height.

It’s been a banner year for the three pole vaulters this winter. The Blue Waves nearly sent all three to states. And at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational Feb. 23, all three cleared 14 feet, a rare feet in the pole vault.

“It’s never been done on Long Island, I don’t believe, certainly not in Riverhead,” Riverhead pole vaulting coach John “Doc” Andresen said after the meet.

The Indoor Nationals continues today and Sunday. Click here for live video coverage.

joew@timesreview.com

03/05/13 9:00pm
03/05/2013 9:00 PM
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 FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle, shown at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational, cleared 14-06 at the state meet Saturday for fifth place.

Like a pitcher in baseball, a pole vaulter has only so many jumps in him during a meet before fatigue begins to set in, making it more and more difficult to soar over the bar as the height increases.

The key for pole vaulters is to find the ideal height to enter the competition. Enter too early, risk fatiguing at the end. Enter too late, risk not clearing the initial height at all and falling into last place with the dreaded NH, or no height.

“The less amount of jumps you have to do in a competition, the stronger you will be in those jumps,” said Riverhead coach Sal Loverde. “The more jumps you have to do, the more your physical ability becomes spent.”

[Related: Illness slows down Udvadia at states]

At Saturday’s New York State Championships in Ithaca, Riverhead pole vaulters Dan Normoyle and Jonah Spaeth entered with lofty goals in pursuit of the top spot on the podium. The two seniors have routinely cleared 14 feet this season, giving them the confidence to wait until the bar already reached a high height before entering the competition.

Normoyle began at 13 feet 6 inches, a height 12 out of the 26 vaulters failed to reach. When it was over, he had soared over 14-06, landing him fifth among public school competitors for a spot on the podium. It was his first all-state finish. He was sixth overall in the federation, which includes all schools in the state.

Spaeth cleared 14-0 to narrowly miss a spot on the podium. He entered the competition at 13-0.

“Both Dan and Jonah had very respectable performances and should be very proud of themselves,” Loverde said.

James Steck, a senior from Shaker, won the competition by clearing 15-0. Two vaulters cleared 14-09.

“It was a very tightly packed field,” Loverde said. “It could have went either way.”

Loverde said both vaulters hoped to go as deep into the competition as possible.

“It’s a finicky event,” he said. “It’s a lot like relief pitching. But they went up there and they were well prepared and they achieved at a high level. It could have went either way. A little slip on the way down here or there and Jonah or Normoyle could have won it. But that’s the nature of the pole vault.”

Monday marked the first official spring practice and the two vaulters wasted little time getting right back out there. Along with junior Charles Villa, who narrowly missed earning a spot at states, the trio pulled out the mats for their first outdoor practice.

Coming off their success in the winter, there’s no telling what the trio can achieve in the spring, where vaulters typically jump higher.

And when dual meets begin, the Blue Waves can just about mark down a sweep in the pole vault for every meet.

Loverde said a more consistent practice schedule in the spring tends to allow vaulters to reach greater heights.

“The mere fact that they get more time in the actual vaulting setting helps to promote the opportunity for a greater height,” he said. “We got some really ridiculous potential for this spring.”

Before the winter season officially reaches the end, Riverhead’s three vaulters will compete at the New Balance Indoor Nationals at The Armory in New York. The three-day competition begins Friday.

“It’s the race to 15 now,” Loverde said. “Who’s going to be the first one over 15?”

They’ll get another chance Friday.

joew@timesreview.com