Mercy 4×400 team takes third in NY

After breaking four minutes at the state qualifying meet two weekends ago, the Bishop McGann-Mercy 4×400-meter relay team headed to the state meet in Vestal on Friday looking to repeat its performance.

At the state qualifiers at Port Jefferson High School, Olivia Schumann, Tori Cataldo, Kayleigh Macchirole and Sasha Vann broke their own one-year-old school record of 4 minutes 1.43 seconds. The team ran the race in 3:58.87.

Looking at the clock for the first time, the Monarchs nearly exploded in celebration. Once the giddiness wore off, they wanted to do it again. Replicating that feat in Vestal would have moved them up one place, from third place to second by less than a split-second. Bronxville won the race in a time of 3:58.56, and Waverly was second at 3:58.89.

The Monarchs finished third in Division II with a time of 4:00.91, good enough for second in the school’s record books.

Going into the race, Monarchs Coach Tricia Nunez said she thought her relay team could replicate its sub-4:00 performance from a week earlier. But on top of humid conditions that brought thunderstorms with it on Saturday, Schumann and Vann had run individual races earlier in the day.

Vann finished eighth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 58.22. Schumann also came in eighth, in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, finishing the race in 1:06.80.

When they gathered for the relay race, they came close but could not crack 4:00.

“Their performance was excellent,” Nunez said. “To come in third in the state was such a great feat for them.”

Mattituck’s Emily Ianno also had high hopes entering the state meet. A week earlier, she had taken the small school pentathlon title at the state qualifying meet. In the process, she set personal bests in four of the five events that make up the pentathlon.

By the time Ianno arrived in Vestal, though, her aim had become to compete through a stomach virus. She finished the weekend in 20th place with 2,420 points. The overall federation winner was Amber Passalaqua of Pine Bush with 3,304 points.

“Emily held it together quite well,” Mattituck Coach Jean Mahoney said. “She said she felt like she was in a fog the whole meet with pains in her stomach.”

The illness seemed to affect her jumping the most. In practice the week prior to the state meet, Mahoney said Ianno was high jumping 4 feet 10 inches. She was only able to clear 4-6 on Friday. On Saturday, Ianno’s best long jump was 14-6, a far cry from the 15-2 that she began the season with.

The virus evidently did not hinder Ianno’s throwing or running as much. She nearly equaled her practice distances of between 31 and 32 feet in the shot put. Her throw of 30-6 placed her third in the event.

Ianno had aimed to break 17 seconds in the 100-meter high hurdles, which would have been a personal best. But she finished in 17.37, and in the race Mahoney said Ianno likes least, the 800 meters, Ianno finished in 2:49.16.

“Emily and I talked back and forth about her frustration,” Mahoney said. “As I said to her, it was skill that gave her the opportunity to go to states and represent us, but it was luck the day of the meet and how she felt.”

Riverhead sophomore Melodee Riley also entered the state meet with high hopes, and a goal of 40-0 in the triple jump. She did not quite hit 40-0, something only two competitors accomplished. But Riley finished fifth in Division I with a leap of 38-5 1/4.

Riverhead Coach Maria Dounelis said she thought Riley was primed for the federation championship on Saturday.

“She’s warmed up, she’s ready to go, and boom, thunder hits,” Dounelis said. “I’m like: ‘Are you kidding?’ “

Unfortunately not. The thunder and lightning delayed the event for two hours, which Dounelis said did not help Riley. Again, she finished fifth, this time with a distance of 37-5 1/2. But it was enough to make Riley the only non-senior on the podium.

“The potential to jump, forget about it,” Dounelis said. “I just see her doing something really special in the next two years.”

For Riley’s teammate, senior Alex Budd, it was something special just to make her first trip to a state meet. She could not quite match the 5-2 she high jumped in the state qualifying meet. That was her best jump of the season.

In the state meet, Budd finished 26th with a height of 5-0.

Dounelis said, “The fact that she had such a great day at the state qualifying meet and got herself a ticket upstate, that in itself was a great accomplishment.”