Boys Track Preview: Riverhead shooting for league crown

Riverhead junior Jacob Robinson running at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational earlier this year. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk photo, file)
Riverhead junior Jacob Robinson running at the Long Island Elite Track Invitational earlier this year. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk photo, file)

Riverhead High School coach Steve Gevinski is pretty hopeful entering the spring boys track and field season. The Blue Waves can be good. In fact, they can be very good.

“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “I think this could be a great season. We’re a very balanced team. … If things go the right way we can possibly win our league. 

“We should have another real good year. We’ve been a bridesmaid too many times.”

Gevinski has every reason to be optimistic for several reasons, which includes a core of returning veterans.

Start with All-State pole vaulter Charles Villa. The senior is one of five pole vaulters in New York who have towered over 15 feet.

“He’s the real deal,” Gevinski said.

Continue with senior jumpers Marcus Moore (triple jump) and Davion Porter (high jump) and sophomore long jumper Curtis Flippen.

Move onto juniors Andrew Smith (100-meter high hurdles) and Ryan DiResta (400-meter intermediate hurdles).

Go the distance with seniors Travis Wooten and Joe Gattuso, who both can run either 1,600- or 3,2000-meter races.

Continue with junior middle-distance runners Jacob Robinson (400) and Nick Cunha (800).

And finish with juniors Troy Trent and Ethan Greenidge in the shot put and discus.

The Blue Waves’ first test comes in their league opener against defending champion Half Hollow Hills West today. They lost their final league meet to Hills West last season.

“If we can win our first meet, that will put in us in the right direction,” Gevinski said.

Shoreham-Wading River coach Bob Szymanski is looking forward to the season for a few reasons. One, the Wildcats should be pretty good. And two, they’re getting a new track that cost $290,000. “We definitely needed one,” Szymanski said.

The Wildcats have some quality performers.

County champion and senior Jordan Wright, who finished fifth in the state in the 55-meter dash, is slated to run the 100 and 200. Junior Bryce Casey is the No. 2 man.

Matt Leunig will handle both hurdling events while Ryan Udvadia, the Suffolk County Class B cross-country champion who finished second in the state meet (losing by three seconds) will lead the long-distance runners. He ran a 4-minute 14-second mile as a junior and was timed in 9:02 in the 3,000.

“He is an excellent runner,” Szymanski said. “To be second in a state meet is outstanding.”

Senior Keith Steinbrecher, a division champion in the steeplechase, also will run the 3000.

One vital piece to the puzzle will be triple-threat junior Israel Squires, who has been battling the flu the past week. He was All-County in the triple jump (44 feet), can do 6-0 in the high jump and over 20 feet in the long jump.

“If we’re going to contend, he has to be there,” Szymanski said. “He’s one of the key field event athletes.”

Other athletes expected to make contributions are seniors Jack Kelly (400 and 800), Connor McAlary (800, 1,600) and Maxwell Maritato (long  jump, high jump) and junior Matthew Gladysz (400, 800, 1,500).

Wright, Casey and Maritato are expected to make up three-fourths of the 4×100-meter relay team.

Szymanski believes the Wildcats’ biggest foes will be Bayport-Blue Point, which finished second to its nemesis in League VI and in the division, and Mount Sinai. They will have to wait until April 30 to face Bayport.

After a strong winter season, Bishop McGann-Mercy coach Les Williams feels his team’s prospects are looking up.

“We’re going to be a very improved team,” he said. “They’re very dedicated. They’re practicing every day. They work very hard.”

Several superb winter performers buoy Williams’ hopes.

Individually, that includes sophomore Dale Kelly, who ran a third-best time in the 300 meters in the Long Island Elite Invitational in 38.90 seconds, and junior shot putter Andrew Schlossberg, who set a school record of 42 feet 2 inches.

“Dale brings the mail,” Williams said. “He’s good.

Working as a team, the Monarchs’ 4 x 200 relay team broke the school record in 1:39 indoors behind the quartet of seniors Luis Cintron and Riley Joinnides and sophomore Alex Frabizio and Kelly. “I think members of this team are going to have a good season,” Williams said.

Senior Matthew Abazis, called an “excellent half-miler” by Williams, and Cintron are the co-captains.

Williams, 64, brings great experience (37 years) at the high school (Bellport, East Islip and Sayville) and college levels (St. Joseph College) and an impressive résumé that includes being named a coach of the year 37 times. It certainly doesn’t hurt that his wife, Elaine, is his assistant coach and works with the throwers.