The tall figure of Kian Martelli stretched his long right arm up toward the board listing the Riverhead High School track and field records and pointed. “That’s what I want,” he said.
His forefinger was directed toward the outdoor triple jump record of 47 feet, 6 inches that was set way back in 1970 by someone listed as B. Giles. It’s the longest-standing spring track record on the board. That record — and Riverhead’s indoor record of 47-1 that Treval Hatcher established in 2011 — may be in danger.
“I want it so bad,” Martelli said. “I feel like I can get it.”
Given Martelli’s drive and determination, it would be best not to bet against the junior.
“Kian is a phenomenal athlete who hasn’t even reached his potential yet,” Riverhead’s boys winter track coach, Sal Loverde, said. “He has so much ability that it’s exciting. He is the first kid in a long time that I feel could threaten beating school records.”
This past spring, as a sophomore, Martelli raised eyebrows when he finished fourth outdoors in the Section XI Championships with a distance of 43-2. He finished behind William Floyd’s Trevor Wilkins (45-7), Copiague’s Edgar Tineo (44-3 1/2) and Amityville’s Alijah Benymon (44-0). Wilkins and Benymon were seniors. Tineo was a sophomore.
Earlier, in the Division Championships, Martelli triple jumped 42-1/2 to finish as the Division II runner-up to Tineo (42-8 1/2).
Last winter Martelli triple jumped as far as 41-7, according to just-in-time-racing.com.
But it was his showing in the spring that was seen as a breakthrough.
“That performance in the spring really woke him up in terms of what he needs to do in terms of putting the different pieces together to have that big jump that’s going to make a difference,” Loverde said. “He’s very much into it right now. He likes the recognition and he deservedly should like it because he performed at a high level as a 10th-grader.”
The fact that Martelli is 6-3 is an undoubted help, but he has more going for him than just height.
“He’s also extraordinarily competitive and he’s very actively involved in what the records are and who’s doing what on Long Island, in the state, in the country,” Loverde said. “He has a high belief in his ability, and very slowly his energy and effort … is starting to rise, so we’re expecting to see much better performances throughout the winter and even into the spring with him.”
Martelli understands how it is in track. The better an athlete becomes, the harder it is to improve. That hasn’t deterred him, though.
“I’m really trying this year because I want it so bad,” he said of getting his name on the school record boards.
Monday was the first day of practice, and Martelli seemed eager to get down to business.
“Honestly, I was so excited,” he said after the team did some running around the track. “I wanted to come out here and jump, but obviously, the first day it’s not possible. But towards the end of the week I’m hoping to get at least a little bit of jump work in.”
Loverde said: “He’s starting to realize that in practice time there’s less actual complete jumps. It’s more plyometrics, speed work, strength work, individual phase work. You break it down a great deal. In his mind, if he’s not heading down the runway, hitting the pit, he’s not getting it done, but he actually is. That’s where the jump really happens, in all that preparation.”
Martelli hopes that preparation leads to record results.
Photo caption: Riverhead triple jumper Kian Martelli points to the school triple jump record he is aiming for. (Credit: Bob Liepa)