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Girls Winter Track: Riverhead sprinters dash to victories

Judging by its performances this season, the Riverhead High School girls winter track team is going to acquire a reputation for being a sprinting school.

“It’s about time,” coach Justin Cobis said. “We’ve always had one or two.”

Now, the Blue Waves have more than that.

Look no further than Sunday’s Suffolk County League II Championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood for supporting evidence. Riverhead juniors Miasha Pittman and Ashli Bell were both crowned league champions for their first-place finishes in the 300 meters and 55-meter dash, respectively. Pittman also placed third in the 55. The school’s 4×400 relay team was fourth and its 4×200 relay team came in sixth.

“We have some good people here,” said Pittman.

That certainly includes Pittman herself. She has broken three school records this season and was chasing another in the 300 Sunday. Pittman ran that distance faster than she ever had before, in 43.31 seconds. That left her an agonizing .07 seconds off the school record, said Cobis.

“I was trying,” said Pittman, whose nearest competitor was Connetquot sophomore Erin McLoughlin in 43.62.

Cobis said Pittman has become a leader of the team’s sprinters and jumpers. It showed.

Pittman had considered not running in the 55 earlier in the meet in order to stay fresh for the 300. She ran it, though, and came in third in a personal-record 7.55.

Then, after winning in the 300, Pittman wasn’t feeling well, so consideration was given to scratching Riverhead’s entry in the 4×200 relay, but Pittman would have none of that. “I didn’t want to do the 4×2,” she said. “I did it for my team.”

She anchored the relay team, which was timed in 1:57.60. The first three legs were handled by freshman Enaria Suazo, Bell and freshman Emani Womack.

“Everybody looks up to [Pittman] on the team,” Suazo said. “She’s going to be famous one day.”

While Pittman was more of a known commodity entering the season, Bell wasn’t. Bell said she had never competed in track before this season. How did she get into the sport?

With encouragement from her physical education teacher, Steve Gevinski. She said, “I was forced.”

It has proven to be a good move for both Bell and the team. She showed her talent, winning the 55 in 7.45.

“You got to be your best,” Bell said. “I just like running and winning.”

Cobis said Bell has “come out of the woodwork. She showed up and was obviously a contributor and a competitor.”

Another Riverhead junior, Christina Yakaboski, came close to victory in the 1,000. Try as she did, Yakaboski couldn’t catch Smithtown East senior Gabby Schneider, who won in 3:08.57. Yakaboski was second in 3:09.64, several seconds off her best time.

“I’ll take it,” Yakaboski said. “I wanted to beat Gabby. There were good girls in that race, so I can’t be upset with second.”

Riverhead junior Kristina Deraveniere crushed her previous best time in the 600 by about six seconds, taking third in 1:42.66. She was preceded at the finish line by Schneider (1:39.47) and Bay Shore junior Lexi Grassia (1:39.51).

Those performances helped Riverhead finish fourth among 10 teams in the team scoring. Cobis said, “It was our best effort by far over the past 10 years.”

Three Wildcats runners-up. Lexi Smith, Nicole Garcia and Torre Parrinello turned in second-place finishes for Shoreham-Wading River in the League IV Championships.

Smith, a senior, ran the 3,000 meters in 10:34.74, which was second to Sayville senior Jenna Newman’s 10:32.62. In addition, Smith was fourth in the 1,500 in 5:07.73.

Garcia, a junior, completed the 600 in 1:43.41. Westhampton Beach senior Maeve Murphy was first in 1:40.90.

Parrinello, a sophomore, was runner-up in the 1,500 race walk in 7:42.72. She finished behind Westhampton Beach senior Natalie Ehlers (7:32.15).

Two other SWR athletes had sixth-place showings. Senior Alicia Lopez ran the 55 in 7.78, and sophomore Emma Longboat threw the shot put 26 feet, 8 1/2 inches.

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Photo caption: Riverhead junior Miasha Pittman won the League V 300-meter title and was third in the 55-meter dash Sunday at Suffolk County Community College. (Credit: courtesy of Justin Cobis)