Boys Track: Maritato sets personal record in high jump

Shoreham-Wading River runners (from left) Ryan Udvadia, Connor McAlary, Keith Steinbrecher and Michael Godfrey cross the finish line in the 1,600 Tuesday against John Glenn.
Shoreham-Wading River runners (from left) Ryan Udvadia, Ryan Groskopf, Keith Steinbrecher and Connor McAlary cross the finish line in the 1,600 Tuesday against John Glenn. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Shoreham-Wading River senior Max Maritato has his college choices narrowed down to two schools: Rochester Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Not all that surprisingly, he happens to be the school’s valedictorian, which puts him in good company on the track. 

“He’s the third smartest guy in the school,” noted Shoreham coach Bob Szymanski. “Behind [coach Bill] Hiney and me.”

Szymanski’s good-natured ribbing has been a staple around the track for decades, just as much as winning. On Tuesday, there was plenty of both.

The Wildcats, without two of their top athletes, easily rolled past John Glenn at Shoreham-Wading River High School, taking first place in every event.

Maritato had the highlight of the meet, clearing a personal best 6 feet 2 inches in the high jump.

“It’s a thrill,” he said. “There’s no way I can explain it.”

Maritato entered the competition at 5-06 and quickly got past 6-1, his previous best for the outdoor season.

“Last summer I cleared 6-02 a few times in practice, but I was never able to really pull it off in a meet,” Maritato said.

Tuesday was his day.

After clearing his personal best, he gave three shots at 6-03 but couldn’t clear the next height.

“It’s so difficult because you’re so excited, but then you have to refocus at the same time,” Maritato said. “After jumping a PR like that, I’m not disappointed if I don’t make the next height. I try my best to keep the momentum and focus going.”

Maritato had a busy day, competing in the long jump and the 4 x 100 relay. He ran the opening leg of the winning relay team, a switch because the Wildcats were without their top sprinter, Jordan Wright.

Normally Maritato runs second, taking the first handoff from Wright.

“Ninety-nine times out of 100 he’ll give me a lead, so my job is usually a little easier than the other guys,” Maritato said. “But I just had to focus when I got on the line.”

The Wildcats’ relay team included Matt Leunig, JJ Squires and Bryce Casey, who ran the anchor. Casey had a big day, winning the 100 (11.3 seconds) and 200 (22.6). Leunig won both the hurdle events, taking the 110 in 17.4 and the 400 in 1:01.7.

Glenn was competing without a few of its top athletes, including their hurdler who runs comparable times to Leunig.

Leunig said he would have preferred a closer race.

“I love competition,” he said. “I want to break 60 [seconds].”

In the long jump, Maritato finished second behind teammate Jack Kelly, who was making his debut in the event. Kelly’s a strong runner in the middle distances, so Szymanski said he knew Kelly could do well in the long jump.

He didn’t disappoint. Kelly jumped 18-02 to take first, much to the delight of his teammates looking on.

“Whatever it takes to win,” Kelly said.

Kelly also won the 400 in :55.5 and the 3,200 in 12:15.2. He capped the afternoon with a win as part of the 4 x 400 relay team.

Shoreham’s top distance runner, Ryan Udvadia, had a relatively easy afternoon. He cruised in the 1,600, crossing the finish line with three of his teammates. Udvadia hung back in the pack before the final lap to help give one of his teammates a boost. On the final lap, he turned it on and passed six runners.

The win moves the Wildcats to 4-0 in League VII and keeps them in the driver’s seat for the league title. The Wildcats’ final dual meet of the season is against Bayport-Blue Point, the team that has been their biggest competitor in the league. But the Phantoms already lost a dual meet to Mount Sinai.

“It’s my senior year and a lot of the other guys, so we’re really trying to push to get that title,” Maritato said.

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