Mercy girls prevail amid hail in opening track meet

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Meghan Donnelly of Bishop McGann-Mercy won the triple jump with a distance of 28 feet 2 1/2 inches.

The Suffolk County League VII girls track and field meet on Thursday at Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School offered something of a surprise. Cold rain was one thing, wind was another, but how about some hail on the last day of March?

And then there was something that wasn’t surprising at all: another win for the Monarchs.

That’s just what they do.

The Monarchs didn’t allow nasty weather or the Center Moriches Red Devils to prevent them from continuing their winning ways. With their 92-37 season-opening victory, the Monarchs extended their dual-meet win streak to 20. Their last loss was to the Port Jefferson Royals on April 15, 2008.

“It’s a lot more motivation,” said McGann-Mercy senior Kayleigh Macchirole, who has never experienced a team loss in her three years with the Monarchs. “That’s a reason why I give everything I have at dual meets, because I want to win the dual meets, keep the winning streak alive.”

Winning has become as much a part of McGann-Mercy’s program as the equipment and the athletes, so much so that when one of the team’s throwers, Catherine Andes, was asked if the result was what she expected on Thursday, she replied: “Of course I expected it. Why wouldn’t I?”

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy triple jumper Michelle Borge came in second place at 24 feet 2 1/2 inches.

Defending league champion McGann-Mercy, which went 7-0 last year, was led by Sasa Vann, who won three events. The junior finished first in the long jump (15 feet 7 inches), the 100 meters (13.5 seconds) and the 200 (28.2).

Two seniors, Kayleigh Macchirole and Olivia Schumann, won two events each for the Monarchs. Macchirole led a sweep in the shot put with a throw of 28-4 and breezed in the 400 with a time of 1:02.9. Schumann took first in the high jump at 4-2 and the 400 intermediate hurdles in 1:12.2.

What wasn’t entirely expected, however, was the weather. The meet was contested in difficult conditions to say the least.

“There was hail, there was sleet, there was wind, there was rain, a little bit of everything,” said Tricia Nunez, who is in her second year as McGann-Mercy’s coach.

Macchirole called the weather conditions the worst she has ever experienced while competing in a track meet. “They were horrible,” she said.

In light of the weather, athletes were permitted to compete in warmup suits and, since they had no bearing on the final result, the three scheduled relay races were not run.

Having lost only four athletes from last year’s team, McGann-Mercy remains a squad to be taken seriously. “They’re a great group of kids who are so committed and they’re very, very hard working,” Nunez said. “When you have that combination, there are all sorts of possibilities.”

Andes did well, winning the discus with a throw of 63-0 and taking second in the shot put at 22-10. Other Monarchs came though with winning performances. Meghan Donnelly’s triple jump of 28-2 1/2 landed her in first place. Emily Venesina was the first to cross the finish line in the 1,500 with a time of 5:44.2. Delina Auciello clocked 2:45.2 in the 800. Isabella Franz took second to no one in the 3,000 with her 12:06.1. In consideration of the inclement weather, the 1,500 race walk was shortened to 800 meters; Lindsay Gelling of McGann-Mercy was the first finisher in 4:34.5, beating out teammate Colleen Edwards by 2.8 seconds.

It was a convincing showing across the board.

“I knew they were going to be good, but I didn’t think they were going to be as good as they were,” Center Moriches Coach Dan Fournier said. “What makes a good team is working together and being consistent. They had some good athletes out there today.”

Last year McGann-Mercy capped its dual-meet season with a four-point win over rival Port Jefferson. The schedule-maker apparently has a sense for drama. Once again those two teams will face each other in the final dual meet of the year in Port Jefferson on May 11.

Hail is not in the forecast.

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