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06/04/16 9:42pm
06/04/2016 9:42 PM

Shoreham-Wading River track athlete Katherine Lee 060416

The competition was never really too far behind until late in the race, but the Shoreham-Wading River High School girls 4×800-meter relay team never trailed.

Alexandra Hays took the lead at the start, handed off to Kaitlyn Ohrtman, who did the same to Payton Capes-Davis, and Katherine Lee brought it home for a new meet record in the Section XI Individual Championships/state qualifier on Saturday at Port Jefferson High School. READ

04/17/15 6:48pm
04/17/2015 6:48 PM
Riverhead sprinter Jacob Robinson, seated next to family friend Patrick Harris, signed to accept a scholarship from Merrimack College (Mass.). Standing, from left, are Riverhead assistant coach Will Razzano and the school's indoor and outdoor coaches, Sal Loverde and Steve Gevinski. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

Riverhead sprinter Jacob Robinson, seated next to family friend Patrick Harris, signed to accept a scholarship from Merrimack College (Mass.). Standing, from left, are Riverhead assistant coach Will Razzano and the school’s indoor and outdoor coaches, Sal Loverde and Steve Gevinski. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

Not long after he had joined the Riverhead High School boys track and field team four years ago and discovered he had a talent for running fast, Jacob Robinson got into the habit after a race of asking the school’s winter coach, Sal Loverde, if he had run fast.

Loverde recalled, “He would just give me the look, you know, the Jacob look, and I would say: ‘No, you’re not fast yet. I’ll tell you when you’re fast.’ ”

And so it went over recent years. Then, one day this past winter, Robinson ran the 300 meters in a school record time of 35.52 seconds at The Armory in New York City. He gave Loverde that familiar look, as if to say, “So, what do you think?”

Loverde couldn’t deny what he had seen and had to concede, “Alright, maybe you’re fast now.” (more…)

04/11/15 8:06pm
04/11/2015 8:06 PM
Jacob Robinson, pictured in a meet last year, set the school record Saturday in the 400-meter dash. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)

Jacob Robinson, pictured in a meet last year, set the school record Saturday in the 400-meter dash. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)

Jacob Robinson didn’t have to look far to find the former Riverhead High School record holder in the 400-meter dash.

At Saturday’s Suffolk Officials Meet at Mount Sinai High School, Robinson turned in a school record time of 50.58 seconds, according to coach Steve Gevinski. The Riverhead senior topped the previous best of 50.64 set in 2007 by Will Razzano, Gevinski said.  (more…)

03/26/15 5:00pm
03/26/2015 5:00 PM
Senior sprinter Jacob Robinson and his Riverhead teammates will face a lot of new compettion in League III. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)

Senior sprinter Jacob Robinson and his Riverhead teammates will face a lot of new competition in League III. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)

PREVIEW

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.

(more…)

05/31/14 12:45am
05/31/2014 12:45 AM
Riverhead pole vaulter Charles Villa clearing 14 feet en route to his triumph Friday at Port Jefferson High School. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Riverhead pole vaulter Charles Villa clearing 14 feet en route to his triumph Friday at Port Jefferson High School. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

SECTION XI INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS/STATE QUALIFIER

Strange as it may sound for the greatest pole vaulter in Riverhead High School history, but Charles Villa may have been suffering a crisis of confidence recently. His coaches noticed it.

One of those coaches, Jim Henderson, then provided the few words that Villa needed to hear. As Villa related, Henderson told him: “You got to stop being mental. You’re the best one here, so act like it, so jump like it.”

And, just like that, confidence was restored. (more…)

06/08/13 3:25pm
06/08/2013 3:25 PM

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

NYSPHSAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

Before the proceedings began, Dan Normoyle dubbed the occasion “Big Pole Saturday.” It was appropriate enough, with the 29 best high school boys pole vaulters in the state competing in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships at Middletown High School.

The theory is that the longer the pole, the higher it will propel pole vaulters through the air. Normoyle, though, actually used two poles of the same length: 15 feet, one a little thicker than the other. Afterward, he acknowledged that, in his case at least, it wasn’t “Big Pole Saturday.” Normoyle didn’t quite go as high as he would have liked, but the Riverhead senior still turned in the third-best performance in the competition, and that’s not bad at all.

Normoyle cleared 14 feet 6 inches, finishing behind Justin Farrenkopf of Ellenville (15-0) and James Steck of Shaker (14-6). Another Riverheader, junior Charles Villa, was ninth at 14-0.

“It was tough today,” Normoyle said. “It wasn’t my best, but I put my all into it. There was nothing else I could have done. It wasn’t the best day for a lot of people.”

That includes the meet favorite, Warwick Valley junior Todd Uckermark, one of two pole vaulters who failed to clear a height.

Normoyle, the Section XI champion who broke his own school record by reaching 15-0 in a state qualifying meet eight days earlier, complained afterward that he lacked confidence. Then, using a phrase Yogi Berra would have appreciated, he said pole vaulting is “90 percent mental, and the rest is in your head.”

Because of heavy rain on Friday, the scheduled two-day meet was condensed into one day. Normoyle said he was in a better mental state to compete on Friday. Instead, he went to lunch with his parents and saw a movie that day.

Villa entered the competition at 13-0, and Normoyle started at 13-6. They both made heights without missing to be among the 12 pole vaulters still standing after reaching 14-0. For some of the athletes, that height represented a ceiling.

“That’s the dividing line right there,” Villa said. “That’s where it starts to really get hard.”

Both Riverheaders passed on 14-3, going straight to 14-6. That’s when Villa ran into trouble, fouling on his first two attempts and then failing on his third and final one. Normoyle made good on his first attempt at 14-6, but he couldn’t handle 14-9, although he came awfully close on his final try, just nipping the bar.

“I just didn’t have the rhythm today, I guess,” said Normoyle, who gave up playing football to devote himself to pole vaulting.

Normoyle may have been disappointed, but his coach, Steve Gevinski, wasn’t disappointed in him.

“I thought he was amazing, just the strength and the speed he showed was unbelievable,” said the Riverhead coach.

Friday’s postponement made life difficult for Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia, who had to run two long-distance finals on Saturday as a result. Udvadia clocked a time of 9 minutes 10.24 seconds to take sixth place in the 3,200 meters, which saw Nick Ryan of Fayetteville-Manlius triumph in 8:58.28.

“I dozed off during the race,” Udvadia said. “I wasn’t paying attention. I let the front pack get too far ahead.”

Ryan nearly pulled off an impressive double later in the day, with only a few hours to recover. He was nipped at the finish line by Eric Holt of Carmel in the 1,600 final. Holt’s winning time was 4:07.00, just 55/100ths of a second faster than Ryan. Udvadia was eighth in 4:17.11.

“I’m not disappointed,” he said. “Honestly, anything under 4:20 I’ll be happy with.”

Two Mattituck athletes made their first appearance in the state meet. Darius Brew, a freshman and the youngest competitor in the triple jump, came in 23rd place with a distance of 40-3 1/2.

“I feel I did O.K,” Brew said. “It’s acceptable because I’m young, but I feel I could have done better.”

His teammate, junior Sal Loverde, did not have one of his better days, throwing 126-0 for 28th place. The winning throw was 181-9 by Jericho’s Noah White.

“It was unreal,” Loverde said. “The amount of competition is great.”

CARTER SETS HER BEST TIME IN 100 Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Danisha Carter posted a personal-best time in the 100 meters. The junior was 16th in the 100 in 12.89. She was 13th in the 200 in 26.32.

“I think I did [well] for the competition that I was up against,” Carter said. “My back has been killing me, so I came in thinking I wasn’t going to do [well] at all.”

McGann-Mercy was represented by another athlete at Middletown’s sparkling Faller Field. Delina Auciello, a junior celebrating her 17th birthday, was reportedly not feeling well with a stomach ache, but still competed in the 3,000 finals. She finished 25th in 11:28.73.

Competing in the state meet can be a humbling experience. Even top runners can find themselves near the back of the pack.

McGann-Mercy coach Ben Turnbull said, “New York State is a big state.”

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05/31/13 9:14pm
05/31/2013 9:14 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle cleared 15 feet, breaking his own school record by 3 inches. He took first place while teammates Charles Villa (14-0) and Jonah Spaeth (14-0) were second and third, respectively.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Dan Normoyle cleared 15 feet, breaking his own school record by 3 inches. He took first place while teammates Charles Villa (14-0) and Jonah Spaeth (14-0) were second and third, respectively.

SECTION XI INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIP STATE QUALIFIER

Dan Normoyle has a personal motto that he is ready to offer whenever he is asked how high he can pole vault. “The sky’s the limit,” he says.

It’s an apropos motto for a pole vaulter. Pole vaulters, after all, are a special breed. They are adventurous, courageous, often free-spirited, and they tend to not put limits on themselves as they soar to greater and greater heights.

They are dealing with a flukish event in which so many things can go wrong. But on Friday, so many things went right for Normoyle and his fellow Riverhead pole vaulters.

It was as simple — and impressive — as one, two, three.

Riverhead pole vaulters, led by Normoyle’s record-setting performance, swept the top three places in the Section XI individual championship state qualifier at Port Jefferson High School.

Normoyle, a senior, cleared 15 feet on his last attempt at that height, surpassing the school record of 14-9 that he set last week in the division championships. But that wasn’t the only notable element of the day’s proceedings. Riverhead junior Charles Villa took second place at 14-0, edging teammate Jonah Spaeth, a senior who also cleared that height, by a tiebreaker.

“Being able to say we took one, two, three in the county championships is really cool,” said Normoyle.

Normoyle cleared 14-6 on his first try, and that must have helped him toward the record, saving energy required for each attempt. He said he believed he could handle 15 feet. “That was the big thing,” he said. “I knew I could do it, so it definitely gave me the confidence to do it.”

Normoyle missed all three of his attempts at 15-5.

“Fifteen-five would have been nice,” said Normoyle, who qualified along with Villa for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships that will be held June 7 and 8 at Middletown High School.

The three Riverheaders were among the top four seeds in the meet, with Normoyle the favorite. A persuasive argument could be made that this is the golden era for Riverhead pole vaulting.

Riverhead coach Steve Gevinski thinks it is.

“I never heard of that [happening] in the pole vault, that the top three [places] are swept,” by one team, he said. “It’s not like it’s a bad year in the pole vault. It’s probably one of the better years in the pole vault in Suffolk County. So, to do it, they almost raised the bar for the whole county, these guys.”

Referring to the one, two, three finish, Riverhead’s pole vaulting coach, John Andresen, said, “It is almost unheard of.”

Smithtown West senior Karl Nilsen, who was obviously struggling with an ankle injury, was tied for fourth with Mount Sinai junior Charlie Kollmer at 13-6. After the three Riverheaders were the last ones still in the competition, Normoyle said he told a coach, “This might be history.”

It is the third time this season that Riverhead’s pole vault record was raised. Spaeth set a school record last year when he reached 14-6. Then, earlier this season, Normoyle and Villa both cleared 14-6, leaving a three-way tie for the school mark that lasted for about five minutes before Normoyle hit 14-9.

Spaeth, who went to the state meet last year, will miss out this year, but Normoyle and Villa will make their first appearances in the state competition.

“I always wanted it,” Villa said. “I get to go, finally, after all the years of dreaming of going to the states.”

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Ryan Udvadia of Shoreham-Wading River made up ground quickly and surged to victory in the 3,200-meter final in 9 minutes 17.27 seconds.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Ryan Udvadia of Shoreham-Wading River made up ground quickly and surged to victory in the 3,200-meter final in 9 minutes 17.27 seconds.

UDVADIA GIVES SZYMANSKI A SCARE Shoreham-Wading River coach Bob Szymanski was kidding — or at least it sounded like he was kidding — when he said he thought he was going to need a defibrillator as he watched the thrilling finish to the 3,200-meter final.

Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia trailed Northport sophomore Mike Brannigan by about 25 meters with some 200 meters to go, and Szymanski appeared to be panicking, worrying that Udvadia had given Brannigan too much of a cushion.

Not so, though. The top-seeded Udvadia made up ground quickly, taking the lead for the first time while coming off the final turn and winning in 9 minutes 17.27 seconds.

Szymanski could do without that kind of drama.

“I have faith in him, but … it’s still scary,” the coach said. “The only thing I saw that was in our favor was the kid looked back over his shoulder. Someone heard Ryan was coming.”

Brannigan ended up in third place in 9:23.72. He was passed by a teammate, junior Tim McGowan (9:20.60), for second place.

Another Shoreham junior, Connor McAlary, was 10th in 10:01.37. Riverhead junior Travis Wooten came in 18th in 10:22.77.

Udvadia said he was nervous, but confident at the same time. He sensed Brannigan starting to slow down with 400 meters to go.

Known for his late kick. Udvadia had something left in the tank for the strong finish.

“It was painful and tough, but I got it,” said Udvadia, who is headed to his first outdoor state meet. “Even when I don’t think I have a kick, I do have a kick.”

An example was the Penn Relays earlier this season. Udvadia was seeded 14th in the 16-runner 1,600 race. He went from dead last to finish seventh in 4:15.64.

Udvadia said he took a glance at Szymanski during Friday’s race and knew his coach was stressed. “I saw the look on his face,” Udvadia said. “I could tell he was talking to himself.”

TRACK NOTES Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Israel Squires finished fourth in the long jump, covering 21-9.

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