07/24/12 2:00pm

FILE PHOTO | The track at Shoreham-Wading River High School could get an upgrade if a measure is approved tonight and a referendum is later passed by voters.

A proposition this fall to spend more than $1.6 million on new track facilities and upgraded electronic equipment for the Shoreham-Wading River school district will go before the school board for approval at tonight’s meeting.

The proposal would include new resurfacing of the high school’s track facility, which student athletes and school officials said has fallen into disrepair. The track has faded paint, cracks, and uneven surfaces due to previous short-term fixes, making it a potential safety hazard, officials said.

A group of students from the school’s track team said in a presentation passed along to the board this spring the school may not be allowed to hold meets in the future due to the poor condition of the track. This would require the school to bus the team to all away meets, according to the presentation.

The proposed upgrades would also include new computers and Internet systems across the district.

According to the resolution before the board, the district’s existing technology is “outdated, out-of-warranty, not compatible with new state-mandated assessment requirements, and is currently (or soon will be) unsupportable.”

The total project is expected to cost $1,642,000, and would use prior year state aid and reserve funds to keep school taxes at the same rate, according to the resolution.

If approved, the proposition will go before the public in a vote on Oct. 2.

The public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Shoreham-Wading River High School library.

06/07/12 3:00am
06/07/2012 3:00 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Meghan Donnelly competing in the triple jump in the Section XI Individual Championships/state qualifier at Port Jefferson High School on Saturday.

Every year around this time, Port Jefferson becomes the center of the Suffolk County high school track and field world. Like the swallows to Capistrano, athletes, coaches, officials, spectators and media converge on the scenic waterside village, the home to the Section XI Individual Championships/state qualifier.

I’ve driven this route so often that I could virtually do it with my eyes closed (although I would strongly recommend against that). So, there I was on Friday, headed to Port Jefferson High School for the first day of the two-day meet. Driving north on Route 25A, I made a left onto Liberty Avenue, following it up to Old Post Road before starting to make a right onto Brook Road. It was at that point when a Port Jefferson constable, with a deadly serious look on his face, held up a hand and halted me. After walking over to the passenger’s side door, he asked me, “Where are you going?”

I replied, “To the track meet,” pointing in the direction of the track, which sits alongside Brook Road.

Then, eyeing me suspiciously, as if I was up to no good, he asked me in an unfriendly manner, “Who are you?”

(Welcome to Port Jefferson.)

“I’m a reporter here to cover the track meet,” I told him.

Then, after a few quiet seconds, he directed me to make a right onto the next street up the road and find parking somewhere around there. Brook Road, where track and field visitors have parked their cars for years, was closed. School buses were permitted down the road to drop off athletes and coaches, but that was it. Barriers were erected to keep all others out.

Fine enough. My own speculation is that some Brook Road residents had complained enough that something was done to keep the nuisance of track and field traffic that they experience two days a year off their road — and move it onto the roads of their neighbors.

Port Jefferson has a beautiful track and field facility, probably the best among Suffolk high schools, so it’s no wonder that it hosts this big meet. Parking, however, has always been tricky here. This year, veteran sports photographer Garret Meade said, the parking situation was the worst he had ever seen.

But parking is only one of the challenges to covering this meet. Track meets in general are a three-ring circus, with multiple events going on at the same time.

That’s good and bad for a reporter. The good side is that it means there are multiple opportunities to find stories, whether they be on the track or in the field events. The bad side is trying to keep up with it all. With all of the running, hurdling, jumping, throwing and vaulting going on, one can feel as if he is swirling amid a tornado of activity. Even veterans of track meets can miss things.

Despite trying our best to keep tabs on things, Garret and myself both missed seeing the girls 800-meter final on Friday. We didn’t get to see Shoreham-Wading River senior Shannon McDonnell pull out a thrilling victory in 2 minutes 14.62 seconds. We were in the pole vaulting area at the time, watching Riverhead’s Jonah Spaeth soar to a second-place finish at 14 feet, and a place in the state meet.

On Saturday, we didn’t get to see Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Sasa Vann blaze to victory in the 400-meter final in a school record time of 56.61 seconds. We were watching drama unfold in the triple jump, as two Riverheaders, senior Melodee Riley and sophomore Kyra Braunskill-Miller, landed first and second, respectively. They both will compete in the state meet.

We nearly missed the boys 1,600-meter final, only catching the last lap of that race when Garret alertly noticed that it was being run. We were focused on the boys discus up to then.

The bottom line is you’re going to miss something at a track meet. With multiple events going on at the same time, it’s bound to happen. And that’s even with the wonderful new smartphone app offered by www.just-in-time-racing.com that provides real-time results of events as they are completed (it’s a must-have at 99 cents for high school track aficionados). A person has only two eyes and two legs.

Of course, that means there’s a lot to see. A big track meet like this is an adventure.

Parking in Port Jefferson can be one, too.


06/02/12 7:55pm
06/02/2012 7:55 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Melodee Riley took first place in the triple jump in the sectional meet for the third year in a row. She qualified for the state meet for the fourth straight year.


Riverhead High School has been the home to the top female triple jumper in Suffolk County for the past three years. What is different this year, though, is that the top two triple jumpers in the county wear blue and white Riverhead uniforms.

It’s hardly a surprise that Melodee Riley, a senior who has dominated the event, took first place in the Section XI Individual Championships/state qualifier for the third straight year and qualified for the state meet for the fourth successive year. What was something of an eye-opener, though, was what Kyra Braunskill-Miller did in the meet at Port Jefferson High School on Saturday.

While Riley turned in a winning distance of 39 feet 11 inches, Braunskill-Miller wasn’t too far behind her. The sophomore landed 38-3 3/4 to grab second place as well as a place in the state meet. For two athletes from the same team to qualify for the state meet in the same individual event is unusual.

Braunskill-Miller was also seventh in the 100 meters in 12.91 seconds.

Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Sasa Vann will also be making the trip to Cicero-North Syracuse High School for the state meet on Friday and Saturday. Vann had a tremendous day on Saturday, the final day of the two-day sectional meet.

Unlike Friday, which was breezy and unseasonably cool, the humidity and heat climbed on Saturday. That suited Vann just fine. The sprinter tore over the track to win the 400-meter final in a school-record time of 56.61 seconds. Vann, who edged out Lindenhurst junior Alyssa Barthelmes by 5/100ths of a second at the finish line, broke her own school record of 57.27, which she had set a week earlier.

In the 4×400-meter relay final, the Shoreham-Wading River foursome of Shannon McDonnell, Laura Lee, Courtney Clasen and Genevieve Kuczewski clocked a time of 3:58.63, which was good enough for fourth place.

McDonnell, a senior who had won the 800-meter final on Friday, was seventh in the 1,500 in 4:52.11.

Riverhead sophomore Destiny McElroy came in seventh in the 400-meter hurdles in 1:06.38.

In the second day of the boys meet, Riverhead junior Anthony Galvan clocked a personal-best time of 9:58.17 to take third place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He followed two seniors, Rob Calamia of Smithtown East (9:44.95) and Michael Catalano of Smithtown West (9:53.59).

Shoreham-Wading River freshman Jordan Wright finished fifth in the 100 meters in 11.33 seconds.

Riverhead junior Jeffrey Pittman was sixth in the 200 in 22.72.


06/01/12 8:39pm
06/01/2012 8:39 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead pole vaulter Jonas Spaeth cleared 14 feet to take second place in the Section XI Individual Championships and qualify for the state meet.


Shannon McDonnell of Shoreham-Wading River clocked the second-fastest time she has ever run in the 800 meters to finish in first place in the Section XI Individual Championships/state qualifier at Port Jefferson High School on Friday. McDonnell, a senior, overtook Bay Shore senior Danielle Rowe and Smithtown East senior Kelsey Amarosa over the final 100 meters to win in 2 minutes 14.62 seconds. Rowe was second in 2:15.28, and Amarosa was third in 2:16.47.

In winning, McDonnell qualified for next week’s state meet for the second straight year.

Riverhead sophomore Rachel Conti was 23rd in 2:35.61.

The only other girls running event that was a final on the first day of the two-day meet, which will resume on Saturday, was the 3,000 meters. Shoreham eighth-grader Kaitlyn Ohrtman was 18th in 10:58.75.

In the discus, Meghan Serdock of Shoreham (71 feet 11 inches) and Shannon Nuñez of Bishop McGann-Mercy (66-9) were 22nd and 23rd, respectively.

Melodee Riley’s hopes for a good showing in the long jump took a hit. The Riverhead senior fouled on her three attempts. Her teammate Fatima Brown was 22nd at 14-9.

In the boys meet, Riverhead junior Jonah Spaeth booked his first trip to the state meet. Spaeth cleared 14-0, which was one inch short of equaling the school record, but good enough for second place behind the 15-0 posted by Miller Place senior Joe Miceli. Another Riverheader, junior Dan Normoyle, finished fifth at 12-6.

In the 800, Matt Abazis of McGann-Mercy was 16th in 2:02.76, and Tyler Keys of Shoreham was 24th in 2:08.19.

John Lee of Shoreham was 12th in the 3,200 in 9:43.90.


04/23/12 9:30pm
04/23/2012 9:30 PM

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | McGann-Mercy senior Tori Tremble won the 100-meter hurdles in 17.5 seconds Monday against Center Moriches.

Having already won three events, McGann-Mercy senior Tori Tremble faced a decision toward the end of Monday afternoon’s dual meet against Center Moriches.

Long jump or run a relay.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | McGann-Mercy senior Meghan Donnelly won the triple jump and long jump Monday against Center Moriches.

At the last second, she chose the long jump. It paid off perfectly as Tremble posted a personal best jump of 13 feet 4 inches to win her fourth event as the Monarchs rolled to a 100-53 victory to remain unbeaten in League VIII.

“I’ve really been struggling with that, so I’m so happy,” she said.

Tremble began the dual meet by winning her top event, the 100-meter hurdles in 17.5 seconds. She then won the 100 dash in 13.7 and 400 hurdles in 1:19.7.

Senior Meghan Donnelly had a big day as well. She set a personal record in the high jump, clearing 4-08 to take first place. She also won the triple jump with a top mark of 32-07. She’s currently one inch away from the school record of 33-09, which she hopes to break soon.

Donnelly also took second in the 100 hurdles in 21.9.

Senior Lauren Valle used a late surge in the 1,500 to race ahead of two Center Moriches runners on the final turn. She finished in 5:30.5 for her best time of the year.

Senior Emily Venesina won the 800 in 2:31.7. She came into the meet off a school-record performance in the steeplechase Saturday at the Joe Brandi Relays at Connetquot High School. She ran 8:06 to knock seven seconds off the previous record.

Senior Catherine Andes was a double winner in the discus and shot put. She threw 75-09 to win the discus and 27-09 in the shot put.

Eighth-grader Meg Tuthill won the 3,000 in 11:46.8.

Senior Sasa Vann, who’s headed to Buffalo State next year, did not compete to rest a sore knee before Thursday’s Penn Relays, where she’ll compete in both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays. Vann is one of the top 200 and 400 runners in the county.

The Monarchs have two league dual meets left to clinch another league championship. They close out the season May 9 at home against Port Jefferson, which could determine the league champion.


03/28/12 8:00pm
03/28/2012 8:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Kevin Williams can compete in an array of events for the Blue Waves.

In a dual meet setting, a one-two punch of versatile athletes can be a devastating blow for opponents.

The Riverhead Blue Waves have just that in senior Kevin Williams and junior Jeff Pittman, both of whom are coming off outstanding winter seasons in track and field.

Williams qualified for the state championship in the triple jump during the winter and Pittman narrowly missed qualifying for states in the 300.

Versatile athletes who can compete in a number of events, Williams and Pittman will be the anchors of the Blue Waves’ spring lineup.

“Both of those guys are top-five in the county,” said Riverhead coach Steve Gevinski. “Plus, they’re really great leaders.”

Pittman can run anywhere from the 100 to 200 to 400 while also triple jumping or long jumping. Depending on a meet, he can also work into any of the relays, although the 4 x 100 would likely be his best fit.

“I think he’ll have a great season,” Gevinski said.

In addition to being one of the top triple jumpers in the county, Williams will also run the middle distance events.

In the field events a big strength for the Blue Waves is the pole vault. The Wildcats can go four deep in the vault, which gives them a huge boost in dual meets. Junior Jonah Spaeth, who cleared 13 feet 6 inches in the winter, returns for the spring. Dan Normoyle, Nick Villa and Tarik Nelson round out the vaulting crew.

“That’s the area of our team we have the most strength,” Gevinski said. “We’ll do well in all of our dual meets.”

In the shot put the Blue Waves return senior Anthony Stimpfel, who was a league champion in the winter season by throwing 46-02. Senior Shawn Yarborough, a league champion wrestler during the winter, will throw the shot as well. Josh Blom will throw the discus.

In the distance events the Blue Waves return sophomore Travis Wooten and junior Anthony Galvan. Wooten will run the two-mile and Galvan the one-mile.

“Those kids are just getting stronger and stronger every season,” Gevinski said. “Between cross country, winter and spring they’re getting more and more experienced and they’re doing better and better. I expect big things from them this year.”

The most inexperienced part of the team right now is the hurdles and high jump, Gevinski said. If the Blue Waves can improve on those events as the season progresses, it’ll make them a lot stronger.

“We have inexperienced and young kids there,” Gevinski said. “Also we have some kids that are injured. If they can come off injuries and contribute to the team, I think those two factors are key to how well we’re going to do this season.”

The Blue Waves were set to open the league dual meet season against one of the top teams on Long Island Wednesday in Half Hollow Hills West.

“It should be a pretty competitive meet,” Gevinski said.

The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats will rely on the strength of their distance runners this season as they slide back down a league against more familiar opponents like Bayport and Mount Sinai.

Seniors John Lee and Tyler Keys lead the team after both put together strong seasons in the winter. Keys advanced to the state championship in the 1,000 and Lee just missed qualifying for states by one spot in the 3,200.

Keys will focus more on the 800 and 1,600 in the spring while Lee sticks to the 3,200.

“You have that versatility between the two of them to run relays and individual events,” said Shoreham coach Paul Anderson. “We’ll probably get them in invitational meets in their stud events and then they’ll cover us across the board in any middle distance race [in dual meets].”

Junior Tom Sager returns in the pole vault. He cleared 12-6 during the winter season and just missed qualifying for the state meet.

The Wildcats don’t have the depth of some of their teams in the past. They’ll rely on some their younger athletes to improve as the season progresses.

Kyle Fleming leads the team in the shot and discus and Max Maritato is the high jumper. Maritato was third in the league during the winter season after clearing 5-04.

“We’re trying to fill the gaps,” Anderson said.


03/13/12 7:30pm
03/13/2012 7:30 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Melodee Riley was a state champion in the triple jump last year. While playing basketball this winter, she still took seventh in the event at the New Balance Indoor Nationals last weekend.

Scoring a team-high 18 points with 14 rebounds in a Long Island Championship-clinching victory may seem like exhausting work. After Riverhead senior put up that line against Baldwin Friday night as the Blue Waves clinched a spot in the state semifinals, she didn’t have much time to rest.

The hoops/track star quickly switched gears to her main sport of track and headed into New York for the New Balance Indoor Nationals. Even without competing full time in track in the winter season, Riley — a defending outdoor state champion — placed seventh in the triple jump Sunday with a top mark of 39 feet 8 1/2 inches.

Carla Forbes was the winner with a mark of 42-05 1/4.

While the outdoor track season is already underway, Riley is still riding the wave of Riverhead’s unprecedented run to the state semifinals. The Blue Waves play Friday night against Penfield for a chance to make the finals Saturday.

Riley signed with the University of Connecticut to join the track and field team next year.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Shannon McDonnell competed in the 800 at nationals and finished 34th in the championship race in 2:19.79. Ajee’ Wilson ran 2:06.58 for the winning time.

McDonnell was an all-state finisher in the 600 this season. There is no 600 at nationals, so McDonnell ran the longer race. Last year McDonnell ran in the emerging elite race at nationals, which includes the second-tier runners.


03/04/12 7:00am
03/04/2012 7:00 AM

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Shannon McDonnell, shown here at the small school championship, finished fourth in the state in the 600 Saturday.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Shannon McDonnell ran 1 minute 35.82 seconds in the 600-meter run Saturday at the New York State Championship in Ithaca for fourth place. It was her second straight all-state finish in the event.

McDonnell ran the third of four heats and finished first at Cornell University. After the final heat, her time stood for fourth best among public school runners. She was fifth overall in the federation, which includes private and city schools.

Four of the top five runners were from Long Island. Garden City freshman Emma Gallagher won the event in 1:32.37. Olicia Williams of St. Anthony’s was second in 1:33.11 and Jessica Gelibert of Bay Shore was third in 1:33.39.

McDonnell’s time was her best this season. At the state qualifier she ran 1:38.31 on the slower track at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood.

McGann-Mercy senior Sasa Vann ran on the intersectional medley relay and helped Section XI to a third-place finish. The team ran 10:25.62, finishing behind Section II and VIII. Vann qualified for the relay off her finish in the 300 dash at the state qualifier.

On the boys side Riverhead senior Kevin Williams jumped 42 feet 5 1/4 inches in the triple jump. He finished 19th overall.

In the 1,000, Shoreham senior Tyler Keys ran 2:45.29 for 26th overall.