Track & Field: Near perfect meet for Riverhead’s Riley at division championship

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Melodee Riley won the 400-meter dash, long jump and was second in the 400-hurdles Thursday at the Division II Championship.

Melodee Riley could feel her tank running dry as she prepared for the long jump, her fourth and final event over the two-day division championship at Bellport High School.

“I thought I was on E for a second,” Riley said. “I pulled out like three gallons.”

The Riverhead senior had just enough left to jump 18 feet 3 inches on her second jump of the Division II finals Thursday afternoon to win her second event of the day and third overall.

Riley came within .93 seconds of a perfect meet. The only blemish, if a second-place finish could be considered a blemish, was in the 400-meter hurdles. Riley ran 1 minute 6.16 seconds to finish just behind Shannon Ahern of Kings Park (1:05.23). Riverhead sophomore Destiny McElroy finished third behind Riley in 1:06.66.

“Every time I run the 400 hurdles, I wing it,” Riley said. “I was stuttering before the hurdles. I feel like I could have caught that girl but it was too late by the time I tried to get her. I realized my legs were already shot.”

Riley had a relatively short break between the dash and hurdles. Only one event separated the two, giving her little recovery time after exerting a ton of energy to win the dash in a personal-best time.

Coming around the final turn Riley appeared to be as far back as fourth before accelerating to another level. She surged forward as she hit the straightaway and never let up, crossing the finish line in 57.66 to narrowly win first place.

“I never switched into some gear like that ever in my life,” Riley said. “Two girls were in front of me like a little sandwich. I got a little scared and then all of a sudden I just turned it to a gear — I didn’t know what it was.”

Riley, who also won the triple jump Tuesday, tallied 38 points alone in the meet. The Blue Waves finished third as a team in Division II with 67 points. Kings Park won the meet with 114.

The Blue Waves were also winners of the blooper of the meet award. The Blue Waves’ leadoff runner in the 4 x 400, so focused on getting off to a fast start and helping her team win, forgot the all-important tool required for the race: the baton.

She got three-quarters around the track before realizing she had nothing to hand off to the next runner.

The Blue Waves, who have one of the top 4 x 400 teams in the county, could laugh about it afterward.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | McGann-Mercy senior Sasa Vann and Shoreham-Wading River junior Laura Lee compete in the 400-dash in the preliminaries Tuesday.

Riley was competing in the long jump when the 4 x 400 went off. She looked over and noticed something awry as a runner passed by her empty-handed.

“I was like, I don’t think you can do that here,” she said. “It wasn’t anybody’s fault, though. She was set on divisions, we about to win this. It’s all right. We’ll get ’em next week.”

Riley will join the Blue Waves’ relay team at the state qualifier to make up their most formidable quartet.

The Blue Waves came into the meet hoping to compete for the title. But aside from Riley’s success, things didn’t plan out quite as hoped. The Blue Waves were without one of their top distance runners in Rachel Conti, who was sick. In the shot put, sophomore Madison Blom came into the meet with one of the top seed marks, having thrown around 36 this season. But she fouled her throws and did not register a mark.

In the 2,000-meter steeplechase the Blue Waves got a fifth-place finish from freshman Maria Dillingham in 7:56.74.

McGann-Mercy finished sixth as a team in Division III with 46 points. Senior Sasa Vann posted a personal best in the 400 by running 57.27. It was the second fastest time among all the runners in each division. Unfortunately for Vann, she was going up against Nicole Hamilton of John Glenn, who ran a 57.11 for first place.

Vann also ran the anchor leg of the 4 x 100 relay team that finished second in 52.69. The Monarchs were hoping to break the school record and they appeared on pace but a poor handoff at the end cost them precious time and a victory.

Senior Tori Tremble had a pair of fifth-place finishes for Mercy. She ran 17.0 in the 100 hurdles and 1:08.58 in the 400 hurdles. Tremble also ran the leadoff leg of the 4 x 100.

Mercy’s 4 x 800 relay team also placed second by running 9:50.37.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Shannon McDonnell had a huge meet for the Wildcats. After winning the 800 Tuesday, she followed that up by winning the 1,500, finishing third in the long jump and running anchor leg of the first-place 4 x 400 relay team.

McDonnell trailed most of the race in the 1,500 before ratcheting it into high gear in the final lap. She surged into first down the final straightaway to win the event in 4:45.45.

In the long jump she leaped 17-00 3/4 for third.

The Wildcats’ relay team crossed first 4:02.46 for first place. Junior Laura Lee ran the opening leg of the relay after finishing third in the 400 in 58.82.

In the 100 hurdles Shoreham junior Amanda Welischar was fourth in 16.62.

The Wildcats finished fourth as a team with 48 points. Bayport-Blue Point won the meet with 112.

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