As he stood on the runway for his final triple jump, Riverhead senior Kevin Williams closed his eyes and pictured himself at practice. No pressure, no fatigue. Just one jump.
“I’m at home, jumping, having fun,” Williams thought to himself.
Neither of his first two jumps had him in contention. With a short window of rest after running the 600-meter race, Williams had little spring in his first jump. His second was better, but wiped away by a foul. Every other jumper had finished as Williams prepared for his final jump, knowing he needed to beat 42 feet 4 inches for the title.
After contemplating jumping off the closer 36-foot board to lessen the chance of a foul, Williams stuck to his routine, jumped from the 40-foot board and nailed a 42-10 to win the event.
“I was thinking, this is leagues, I’m jumping from the 40 board,” Williams said. “I came here to win.”
Williams’ victory highlighted a fifth-place finish (47 points) for Riverhead Friday night in the League III Championship at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood. In addition to his triple jump victory, Williams placed third in the 600 in a personal best time of 1 minute 27.61 seconds.
In a compact meet that spans a little over two hours, Williams faced a difficult challenge in competing in the triple jump so quickly after running the 600.
“That’s probably one of the hardest doubles you can do,” said Riverhead coach Sal Loverde. “The triple is all about legs.”
Immediately after finishing the triple, Williams looked across the track and saw his teammates waiting for him in the 4 x 400 relay. He was scheduled to run the anchor leg.
“I don’t know how the coaches set that up,” Williams said. “But they do.”
Riverhead finished out of the scoring in the relay. The group ran 3:55.19 for seventh place.
While running an extra 400 meters at that point in the night may not have most desirable for Williams, he said it’s important to keep the team aspect in focus.
“I remember I have a team here,” he said. “You got to motivate the younger kids so when they get up to their senior years, they motivate everyone else.”
Last year Williams settled for second in the triple jump at the league championship behind teammate Treval Hatcher, who was a state qualifier. This year Williams hopes it’s his turn to earn a bid upstate.
Coming into the year Williams thought he’d focus more on the 600. But as the season progressed, he realized his best option would still be the triple jump.
“We gave [the 600] a good look and he did a phenomenal job,” Loverde said. “However, there are several kids that are going to be state bound before he is. And he has a shot in the triple to go upstate and I’d love that for him.”
Williams said he enjoys the 600 as much as the triple.
“I’m addicted to competition,” he said. “That’s what makes me like the . But you have so much fun on triple jump. You can relax and it’s all about fun.”
The only other champion for Riverhead was senior Anthony Stimpfel in the shot put. He threw a personal best 46-02, which is about six feet better than from when he started the season.
Loverde said much of the credit goes to coach Bill Hedges. At that start of the season if Loverde told Stimpfel he would be the league champion, “he would have looked at me like I was crazy.”
“The kid is believing it now,” Loverde added. “Now he’s tasting 50.”
Junior Jeff Pittman scored in three events for Riverhead. He was second in the 300, fourth in the long jump and fifth in the triple.
Pittman appeared to win the 300 when he cruised across the finish line first by a comfortable margin in the final heat. He ran 37.79, while James Boney of North Babylon followed in 38.33.
But Darius Samples of Hauppauge had actually run a faster time in the previous heat (37.36) to win the event. Loverde said it was unfortunate that Samples wasn’t in the faster heat against Pittman so he could have pushed him to run faster. Samples didn’t have a seed time before the championship to get into the faster heat.
Loverde took the blame for not reminding Pittman to be aware of the time, not just finishing first.
“They get so amped up and lost in their own concentration, they’re not thinking about it,” Loverde said. “A lesson learned across the board. I’ll take responsibility for that. It doesn’t belittle his effort. He ran a great time on this track.”
Pittman jumped 20-04 1/2 in the long and 40-10 1/2 in the triple.
In the 55-hurdles sophomore Clifton Russel placed fifth in a personal best time of 8.75. Junior Brian Fungfeld also ran a personal best in 9.18, but didn’t not make the finals.
Junior Anthony Galvan ran 4:50.05 for fifth place in the 1,600. Sophomore Davion Porter cleared 5-04 in the high jump for fifth place. Sophomore Travis Wooten took about 10 seconds off his top time of the year and ran 10:28 for seventh in the 3,200.
North Babylon finished with 92 points to win the league championship. Hills West was second with 82.