Track and Field: Injured Riverhead pole vaulter pulled from state meet

New York’s best high school track and field athletes will compete Saturday in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships. Riverhead pole vaulter Charles Villa will not be among them.

Although Villa had qualified for what would have been his first indoor state meet, the senior has been withdrawn from the event because of an ankle injury, said Riverhead coach Sal Loverde. Villa sprained his left ankle during a warmup at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational last week and didn’t compete in that meet.

Loverde said Villa remained upbeat despite the setback, with a national meet and the spring season to look forward to.

Villa, the Section XI champion, is ranked fifth in the state and was listed fourth on the entry list for the state meet with a seeding mark of 15 feet 3 inches.

Meanwhile, several local athletes will compete in the state meet, which will be held at Cornell University’s Barton Hall for the ninth straight year. Among them will be Shoreham-Wading River sprinter Jordan Wright. Wright, a senior, has the eighth-fastest seed time in the 55 meters: 6.55 seconds.

Despite Villa’s absence, the Riverhead boys will have representation in the meet in the form of Jacob Robinson. The junior may run the 300 meters for Section XI’s distance-medley relay team. He finished in seventh place in the Long Island Elite Track Invitational in 37.10 seconds, the fastest time he had ever run by 1/100th of a second.

In what has been called the deepest field in the girls shot put in recent memory, with 10 girls who have thrown over 40 feet, Riverhead senior Maddie Blom has a seeding mark of 36-7. That ranks her 22nd among the 30 shot putters entered.

Blom will be making her first appearance in the state meet, as will Bishop McGann-Mercy sophomore Meg Tuthill. Tuthill is on the Section XI distance-medley relay team. She earned her place by finishing fourth in the 1,000 meters at the Section XI Championships in 3:03.48.

The state meet will start Saturday morning with the girls competing in 17 events, followed by the boys. One website preview of the state meet advised spectators to be “prepared for a totally exhausting day of screaming and pandemonium and maybe that rare big upset.”

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