Schafer and friends have something to shout about

Matt Angevine of Riverhead charged down the track during a 100-meter heat in his team’s win over East Islip.

A great deal of noise was emanating from the Riverhead High School locker room, with athletes banging on lockers, hooting and hollering. What was all the ruckus about?

The sound of victory was in the air.

Following a brief derailment, the Riverhead boys track and field team got back on the winning track last Thursday, and did so in a big way. The Blue Waves lived up to their reputation in the field events, winning all of those events as they nearly outscored East Islip by a two-to-one margin. Six first-place finishes in running events didn’t hurt the Blue Waves, either, as they triumphed, 93-55, at Riverhead High School.

After losing its first dual meet to North Babylon, Riverhead (1-1 Suffolk County League III) returned to its winning ways with a lot of help from Sasha Schafer, Ryan Budd, Treval Hatcher and Mike Smith. With this latest result, Riverhead kept alive its league-title hopes. Nobody had to tell Budd how important a win it was.

“Today was a great confidence-builder,” the senior said. “Today was a great day because if we lost today, everybody’s morale [would be] down. This gets us back on track.”

Riverhead has enjoyed a fine run of success in recent years. Since 2006 the team has gone 23-5 in dual meets, winning a league title in 2006 and finishing as county runner-up in 2008. In the process, Riverhead has made a name for itself as one of the better programs in the county.

“Riverhead’s a phenomenal team,” East Islip Coach James Connell said. “They have a good history.”

But when Riverhead and North Babylon, arguably the two best teams in League III, met in the season opener on March 24, it was the Bulldogs who gained the upper hand in the league-title race with an 81-60 win.

Riverhead distanced itself from that meet with its strong showing last Thursday. Schafer was no small help. The senior from Siberia, who complained of the cold late in the afternoon when the sun started sinking in the sky, has proven to be more than just the best pole vaulter in Suffolk. He had his hand in 20 points, taking first place in the long jump (19 feet 6 3/4 inches), 100 meters (11.3 seconds), pole vault (13-0) and running a leg on the winning 4 x 100-meter relay team. Christian Krumbiegel, Jeff Pittman and Darius Morgan also ran on that relay team, which was clocked at 47.5.

“That’s what you need on a team, guys like [Schafer] who are willing to give a little extra,” Riverhead Coach Steve Gevinski said. “What we’re finding is what an outstanding athlete he is.”

Budd won the 110-meter high hurdles in 16.0 and the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 57.4, one second off his personal record.

Hatcher and Smith were double winners as well. Hatcher raced to the finish line in 54.0 in the 400 and covered 44-6 1/2 in the triple jump. As expected, Smith grabbed first-place points in both the shot put at 52-6 1/2 and the discus at 149.

Another Riverheader, Kevin Williams, ran a personal-best time of 2:08.4 to win the 800. Also posting wins for Riverhead were Peter Rodriguez in the 200 (24.1) and Edwin Perry in the high jump (6-0).

East Islip, which lost for the second time in as many dual meets, had a double winner in senior Christian Reed, who won the 1,600 in 4:56 and the 3,200 in 10:47.7. Another East Islip athlete, Dean Fatsis, posted a personal-best throw of 132 to take second in the discus.

Riverhead is a team that may be better built for county or invitational meets than dual meets.

“We have really some of the most talented kids in Suffolk County when you look at the Sasha Schafers, Treval Hatcher, Ryan Budd, Mike Smith,” Gevinski said. “I mean, we got some studs right there who are at the top of their game in their events.”

Still, the coach said he liked what he has seen from others, such as Pittman, Rodriguez and C. J. Gevinski, his nephew.

“We’re looking really good,” said Schafer.

In order for Riverhead to win at least a share of the league title, it will need another team to beat North Babylon. In the meantime, the Blue Waves are focusing on what is in their control. They will face what could be the biggest obstacle remaining for them today when they compete against West Islip in their next dual meet.

“You want to get back on track and get your reputation back,” Steve Gevinski said. “We haven’t really lost many meets in the last five years. We’re not used to losing. It’s not something we want to get used to. We want to continue on that winning path.”

That would be something to shout about.