Schumann’s move to drop high jump is a winning one

Olivia Schumann’s decision to focus on running rather than the high jump this year has paid dividends for herself and the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School girls winter track team.

Schumann finished first in the 300-meter run and was a member of the winning 4×200-meter relay team in the Suffolk County Girls Small Schools Championships at Suffolk County Community College West in Brentwood on Saturday.

“She’s not doing it like last year,” McGann-Mercy Coach Gregg Cantwell said. “It does take away from the running. It’s finally paying off. She’s running better this year.”

Schumann helped McGann-Mercy finish with 21 points, good for eighth place.

“We did pretty well,” Cantwell said. “Coming into the meet I thought we could score in the lows 20s, and we pretty much did that.”

Schumann, a senior who will attend Dickinson College (Penn.) next year, ran the 300 in 43.17.2 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in the county this season. She defeated Mount Sinai’s Janie Turek, who was clocked in 43.45, for the first time this season.

“She was real happy,” Cantwell said.

Schumann also ran the second leg for the 4×200 relay team that finished first in 1:53.10. The team included Kayleigh Macchirole, Lauren Woodhull and Tori Tremble. McGann-Mercy bested Half Hollow Hills West (1:54.19).

Cantwell admitted he took a gamble in running a 4×200 team instead of a 4×400 relay. “We had a big decision to make,” he said. “We had a shot to win both. But we couldn’t win both because they were back to back.”

The McGann-Mercy quartet wound up running in the slower, second heat in the 4×200, but won the gold with the fastest overall time.

“We kind of gamble a little bit and it ended up paying off,” Cantwell said.

Three other runners did not finish in the money, but acquitted themselves well. Isabella Franz finished sixth in the 1,000 in 3:19.18. Freshman Delina Auciello (1:46.07) and seventh-grader Meg Tuthill (1:52.61), who are both running track for the first time, had their best times of the season in the 600, finishing seventh and 13th, respectively.

Next stop is the state qualifiers at Suffolk West on Saturday.

“I will enter everyone I can,” Cantwell said. “Olivia has a decent chance to make states. Our relay team has an outside shot. If things really go wrong for the other teams, we can sneak in.”

While the same athletes will compete in the counties, the state qualifiers is more for individuals than team performances.

“Making the states is more difficult than the nationals,” Cantwell said. “You have to run fast that day. For the nationals, you have to meet a certain time.”

The state meet is scheduled for Cornell University in Ithaca on March 5. There are no other events on McGann-Mercy’s schedule between now and then.

“I’m looking to get the girls into some races,” Cantwell said. “If Olivia makes the states, I don’t want her to go another three and a half weeks” without a race.

Riverhead did not register any points in the Suffolk Girls Large Schools Championships. “We didn’t have the numbers to score a large amount of points,” Coach Becky Winkel said. “It was a good experience for them.”

The Blue Waves’ top finishers included Fatima Brown, who finished seventh in the long jump at 16 feet 7 3/4 inches, just shy of her best, and Rebecca Kerr-Smith, who also was seventh in the shot put with her best throw of the season at 30-5. Tyesha Harrell was timed in 8.09 in the 55, freshman Rachel Conti ran 3:26.43 in the 1,000 and Sarah Governale was clocked in 12:05.24 in the 3,000. Wynisha Holder leaped 4-3 in the high jump.