At a track and field meet in which Miasha Pittman had done so much, all one had to do was watch the last 100 meters of the meet to understand what Pittman is all about.
After receiving the baton from Nia Johnson in the 4 x 100-meter relay, the Riverhead High School sophomore quickly took the lead from Smithtown East’s anchor runner. Then, in a furious sprint down the homestretch, the look on Pittman’s face was one of pure determination.
“Her face showed it all,” said coach Maria Dounelis.
Pittman said: “We weren’t that far apart. I felt that she was going to beat me. I was thinking in my head what my grandfather always told me, ‘If you want to win the race you got to be in the race,’ so I was just like, ‘I have to move! I have to move!’ I couldn’t let her pass me.”
And she didn’t.
Pittman refused to give in to fatigue or pain, pushing herself across the finish line first for a Riverhead victory in a season-best 53.5 seconds.
“That was the best way for us to end the meet,” Dounelis said. “She gets that baton and you know that she’s going to fight till the end. That’s one thing I love about her. She’s a competitor.”
Visiting Smithtown East (2-0, 2-0) won the Suffolk County League III dual meet Thursday, 79-60, but Pittman turned in a stellar performance. She posted first-place finishes in two individual events — the 100 (13.0) and 200 (27.4) — and was second in the long jump (15 feet, 5 1/4 inches). Then she closed the meet in style with her dramatic sprint in the relay, the first two legs of which were run by Riverhead’s Egypt Dozier and Emani Womack.
“She had a great day, as I expected her to, honestly,” Dounelis said. “She’s a 10th grader and watching her this year compared to last year is amazing because she’s really kind of come into her own, and because our team is so young, she is almost taking on a role of feeling responsible for these younger ones.”
Pittman said she wants to set a school record in the 200, her favorite event. That record currently sits at 25.08, set in 2007 by Angela Smith. Pittman’s personal record is 26.5.
“I love the 200,” she said. “In the beginning it starts off slow, but then at the end I pick up so much speed. I get energy out of nowhere and I just feel so good.”
Another Riverhead sophomore wasn’t feeling so good. Christina Yakaboski said she had been sick and rundown, but that didn’t stop her from implementing a new race strategy: start out strong and aggressive, going in front early.
That plan would have brought Yakaboski a couple of victories if not for Smithtown East junior Catherine Farrell. Farrell won both the 1,500 and 800 in 5:08.0 and 2:27.9. Yakaboski was second in both races in 5:08.1 and 2:36.9.
“I know I had to start doing that if I want to start competing at a higher level and I need to get more confident, so that’s something I’m going to try to do in league meets even if it doesn’t end up going my way in the end,” Yakaboski said. She added: “It wasn’t too different than what I usually do, but I definitely learned from my first race this season. I went out way more conservative and it backfired, so I’ve been trying to go out more aggressive.”
Dounelis said: “We were telling her, ‘Why not take the approach during these dual meets where you get out and lead the race a little bit, get comfortable in that position?’ Because a lot of times she would come off races saying, ‘I felt like I could have [done] more in the beginning.’ ”
Riverhead (0-2, 0-2) received first-place finishes from Olivia Niewiadomski in the 400 (1:09.4) and Linda Pomiranceva in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (1:15.7). Runner-up finishes were turned in by Samiya Turner in the triple jump (30-10 1/4), Aleeyah George in the discus (79-9) and Jordan Schule in the pole vault (7-0).
Later, when it was all over, a spent Pittman took a seat in her coach’s office, let out a tired sigh and said, “Such a long day.”
And a productive one.
Photo caption: Riverhead sophomore Miasha Pittman, right, at the start of the 100-meter dash, which she won in 13.0 seconds. (Credit: Bob Liepa)