When Dan Montenegro was a child, his parents started calling him “Cricket” because he liked to jump around so much. All of that jumping has landed the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys track and field team a new triple jumper.
Montenegro wowed observers Friday when on his first attempt in the event in an official competition, he popped a distance of 36 feet 4 1/4 inches.
“I was like, “Oooh. I like this,’ ” said Montenegro.
The sophomore’s next jump went for 36-3 1/2. Then Montenegro topped it off by reaching 36-11, bringing him first place and clinching a 79 1/2-60 1/2 victory over visiting Mount Sinai in a Suffolk County League VI dual meet.
The 36-11 was the best triple jump by a Shoreham boy in two years, said coach Brian Wrinkle.
Wrinkle was reticent about entering Montenegro in the triple jump because he is so good at other events. Montenegro usually competes in the long jump, the 200, the 400 and a relay. One day at practice, he gave the triple jump a try as a joke and discovered something. “I tried it,” he said, “and I was like, ‘I actually like this.’ ”
Since Shoreham’s regular top triple jumper, Dylan Meloni, was injured and did not compete, the timing could not have been better for Montenegro’s entry into the event.
Second-place Shoreham (4-1, 4-1) was coming off a 78-63 loss to first-place Amityville (4-0, 4-0) in its previous dual meet. If the Wildcats are to catch the speedsters from Amityville, they will need help. Amityville will run its final dual meet against East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson (1-3, 1-3) on Monday.
“Yeah, we definitely need a little help,” senior Michael Godfrey said, “a little hope and prayer, but we’re going to keep doing what we can.”
Shoreham took care of business Friday with the aid of Godfrey, who took first in the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes 53 seconds and the 3,200 in 11:04. Then Godfrey topped off his day by helping a 4×400 relay team triumph in 3:48. Carmine Romano, Sebastian Rodriguez and Patrick Flannery also ran for that team.
Godfrey was about to lap a Mount Sinai runner in the 3,200 when he intentionally slowed down in a show of sportsmanship.
“That’s just a classy move,” said Wrinkle.
Godfrey has had health issues this season. First he had the flu, and then an infection in his chest that made it harder for him to breathe.
“The whole time they were carrying me to help make sure that we kept winning meets,” he said of his teammates. “To see my team step up like that, it was more than I could ask for.”
Romano won the 800 in 2:09.8, and Sebastian Rodriguez was the winner in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 1:01.7.
Shoreham enjoyed a strong showing in the field events. Bailey Jung set a personal record in the discus with a throw of 129-11 1/2. Brendan Frances took top honors in the shot put at 49-9 1/2. First place in the high jump went to Ricky Casazza at 5-6.
The 19-point win was a welcome result for Wrinkle, who has seen his team pull out tight wins over Islip (by five points) and Sayville (by two points).
But the big takeaway was this: Montenegro found a new event, and the Wildcats found a new triple jumper.
“He’s fast and he’s got hops,” Wrinkle said. The coach said the event is “not rocket science, but it’s also not something you pick up in a day. I think he’s got another couple of feet in him this year and next year he should be over 40” feet.
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Dan Montenegro, competing in the triple jump for the first time, took first place with a leap of 36 feet 11 inches. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)