Smith fulfills big expectations for Riverhead

As Riverhead Coach Steve Gevinski tried to assess the number of points the Blue Waves could win at last week’s Suffolk County boys track and field division championships, he wrote two 10s next to senior Mike Smith’s name.

Ten is the number of points a team receives if one of its athletes finishes an event in first place.

When it came to both the discus and shot put, Gevinski showed little hesitation in his predictions. Asked if he expected first-place finishes before the events, Gevinski said, “I don’t want to take it for granted, but yeah, kind of.”

In the discus, Smith beat his closest competition, Shaun Blackman of North Babylon, by nearly three feet on May 25. Smith’s best throw traveled 155 feet 8 inches to Blackman’s 153-0.

Two days later, in the shot put, Smith won another Division II championship at Connetquot High School, throwing the shot put 57-4 1/2. The next best shot came from Brandon Reynolds of Kings Park, the only other competitor to record a distance of more than 50 feet. Reynolds still came up more than six feet short, finishing second at 50-10. Blackman came in third at 49-6 1/2.

“He’s such a good athlete, we kind of have that expectation,” Gevinski said of Smith. “The bar’s set very high for him.”

For the Blue Waves, junior Jaylin Jefferies finished 13th in the shot put with a throw of 40-11 and sophomore Shawn Yarborough placed 15th at 40-5 1/4.

The contest in which the distance between first and second place was the shortest also featured Riverhead and Kings Park, this time in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles.

Riverhead senior Ryan Budd knocked nearly a full second off from his qualifying to his finals time. But his time in the finals was 55.67 seconds, not even a full stride behind Kings Park’s Rob Schenke. Schenke qualified for the finals in 57.73 before nipping Budd in the finals with a time of 55.63.

“He’s upset about it,” Gevinski said, “but it might serve a good purpose. It might make him hungrier this week.”

Perhaps the Blue Waves’ most unexpected showing came in the pole vault, where Gevinski expected senior Sasha Schafer to win the event. Instead, Schafer suffered an ankle injury in practice shortly before the event, and failed to clear a height.

“That was terrible,” Gevinski said. “He just really hasn’t been the same” since.

However, the Blue Waves did pick up 1.5 points when freshman Dan Normoyl tied for fifth place at 11-0. Fellow freshman Jonah Spaeth and sophomore Tarik Nelson each cleared 10-6. “They’re getting better and better,” Gevinski said. “They’re our future.”

The Blue Waves had several more solid finishes. Senior Edwin Perry finished third in the high jump, leaping 6-0, and eighth in the long jump at 19-7. His teammate, freshman Matthew Pittman, finished fifth at 20-5 1/4.

The 4×100-meter relay team of Budd, Pittman, Peter Rodriguez and Kashaun Boynton finished fourth in 45.04. The 4×400 team of Budd, Rodriguez, Treval Hatcher and Kevin Williams finished third in 3:28.98.

Williams came in fifth in the 400-meter dash (51.64), Boynton sixth in 110-meter high hurdles (15.22), Jim Bridgewater was fifth in the pentathlon with 2,450 points and the 4×800 relay team of Chris Gevinski, Mike Beierle, Zachary Escallier and Rob Mullen finished 10th in 8:48.60.

Overall, Riverhead finished second in the Division II team standings with 69.5 points, well behind the champion, North Babylon, with 99.14 points. Half Hollow Hills West (65) and Smithtown West (64.64) finished third and fourth.

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” Gevinski said of finishing second for what he said was the third time in five years.

In Division III, Mattituck finished 17th with one point. That point was earned by senior Nick Troisi in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. Troisi finished sixth with a time of 1:01.22, a personal record.

Mattituck Coach Jim Underwood said Troisi stutter-stepped while approaching some of the hurdles, but if he can smooth out his stride, “the potential for breaking 60 seconds is there.”

Bishop McGann-Mercy’s 4×800 relay team set a season-best time, breaking 10 minutes for the first time.

“We talked to them a lot before the race about what their jobs were per leg and what they needed to do in order to perform well and they all stepped up and did what we asked them to do,” said Coach Matt Perry.

In fact, Matthew Stetler, Patrick Derenze, Sean Cappiello and Matt Di Landro held to their assignments well enough that they broke their previous season-best time of 10:03.00 by nearly a minute, finishing in seventh place out of 10 teams with a time of 9:12.96.

“I think their faces said everything,” Perry said of his post-race meeting with the team. “They were just really happy, really excited and, I think, a little bit in disbelief that they were able to improve that much.”