Four medals and two T-shirts.
That’s quite a haul to return home with from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association girls track and field championships, especially when three of those medals are gold.
Riverhead High School junior Melodee Riley followed up her victories in the Division I long jump and triple jump on Friday with a federation title in the triple jump on Saturday.
“Pretty crazy,” said Riley, who had good reason to smile with the four medals hanging from ribbons around her neck. “It’s pretty cool. It’s cool to know that you’re number one out of a lot of schools, a lot of kids.”
Riley triple jumped 39 feet 3 inches to finish first in the federation, which encompasses public and private schools, on the second and final day of the meet at Caledonia-Mumford High School. Her nearest competition was Emma Willard junior Molly Shapiro, who came in second at 39-1 1/4.
Riley finished first among the public schools in the long jump at 18-9 3/4 and the triple jump at 39-9. She also finished fifth in the federation long jump at 18-0. The winner was Holy Names senior Klarissa Ricks (19-1 3/4).
Even though it was Riley’s third appearance in the state meet, she knew that nothing could be taken for granted. “You’re competing with the top jumpers and you want to try to do your best,” she said. “It’s like a little nerve-wracking.”
Riley’s prowess as a triple jumper is well known. Only a week earlier in the Section XI Individual Championships/State Qualifier she turned in a school record triple jump of 41-3 1/2 that coaches said was one of the best in the nation this season. The day before that she turned in a personal record long jump of 19-1/4.
The funny thing is that Riley is a relative newcomer to the long jump. She said she is still unrefined in that event as far as form and technique go.
“I didn’t even know I would make it to the states for the long jump, so it was pretty cool,” she said. “I was really surprised. I didn’t think I could pull anything out like that for the long jump.”
Riley wasn’t the only athlete representing a Riverhead school to make a splash in the state meet. The Bishop McGann-Mercy 4×400-meter relay team took first place as well. McGann-Mercy’s foursome of senior Kayleigh Macchirole, senior Olivia Schumann, junior Sasa Vann and senior Lauren Woodhull clocked a winning time of 3 minutes 57.43 seconds in Division II. It is a school record, topping by fractions of a second the previous mark set by the same foursome earlier this season, said Coach Tricia Nunez.
“This group of kids never gave less than their best, that’s every practice, every meet,” Nunez said. “So, when it came down to the state meet, I knew they were ready.”
The second-place team of the Academy of Holy Names posted a time of 3:59.93. That young team consisted of seventh-grader Mikaila Ford, freshman Leah Triller, eighth-grader Kaitlin Close and senior Jennifer Stodgell.
Macchirole took the lead on the third leg she ran before handing the baton to the anchor runner, Schumann. After crossing the finish line, the taxed Schumann bent over and put her hands on her knees. “She looked up and they just all started screaming,” Nunez said. “It was like in a movie.”
As the top-seeded team, McGann-Mercy’s triumph couldn’t be considered a surprise, but the Monarchs knew victory wasn’t guaranteed.
“It’s such a huge accomplishment to be able to take four individuals and put them together and to be number one,” said Nunez, who called it the most exciting and gratifying experience she has had as McGann-Mercy’s coach. “To see them take it all the way. It’s a coach’s dream.”
Schumann, who competed in the state meet for the fourth year, saw a sacrifice she made pay off. She had qualified to compete in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in the state meet as well, but dropped that event in order to stay fresh for the relay.
Vann had plenty of recovery time to compete in an individual event as well. She ran a season-best time of 12.86 in the 100-meter preliminaries, but failed to qualify for the final.
Shoreham-Wading River junior Shannon McDonnell finished 21st in the 800 final in 2:17.11.
HATCHER WRAPS UP CAREER Riverhead senior Treval Hatcher tripled jumped 46-3 1/2 in the humid, heavy air, leaving him fourth in Division I in the boys meet. He also ended up sixth in the federation, covering a distance of 45-6 3/4.
“I thought I definitely could have done better, but I’m glad I got a couple of medals,” said Hatcher, who also won a medal for finishing first in the triple jump at 45-7 in the Long Island Championships at St. Anthony’s High School on Monday. “The competition was good. It was just a fun time.”
Hatcher, a three-time all-county selection, will move on to jump for the University of Connecticut. He had quite a career with the Blue Waves as the holder of the school record in the indoor triple jump (47-1), a member of school-record outdoor 4×400 (3:30.75), distance medley (12:38.87) and sprint medley (3:48.94) relay teams. His best outdoor triple jump was 46-11 1/4.
“He’s a great kid,” Riverhead Coach Steve Gevinski said. “He’s one of the reasons why we do well year after year.”
Hatcher said he has great memories from his time competing for Riverhead. “I’m satisfied with everything that I did in the season,” he said. “I had a great coach, great teammates.”
Shoreham-Wading River’s senior pole vaulter, Ben Canellys, was 14th among public schools and the federation at 13-6.