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Boys Winter Track: Martelli lands fourth in triple jump

Kian Martelli’s ability to take off close to the board has been one of his strengths as a triple jumper. Until recently. Until Friday night.

Martelli missed his mark several times in the Section XI large school team championships and the Riverhead High School senior was puzzled as much as anyone else as to why. Could it have been a question of rhythm, or speed?

“I think it’s a little bit of both,” he said.

Then again, pain Martelli said he was feeling in his right knee — on his takeoff leg — could have had something to do with it as well.

“We’ve been having problems with it for a while,” Martelli said of jumping too far from the board and giving away inches and, on at least one instance Friday night, feet. “It’s clearly not on. I don’t know what happened.”

What happened was the second of Martelli’s six triple jumps at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood went for a season-best 43 feet, 9 1/4 inches, bringing him fourth place. He finished behind three fellow seniors — Bay Shore’s Marcrene Jeannot (45-2 1/4) and Central Islip’s Leon Hoppie (43-11) and Davon Goode (43-10 1/2).

Martelli, who was seeded second among the 24 triple jumpers competing, opened with 43-9, leaping off several inches behind the board. He was closer to the mark on his second attempt. On his third try, he took off a foot and a half behind the board and shook his head in disgust after landing in the pit with a distance of 42-8 1/2.

In the finals, Martelli recorded 42-5, fouled and was at least two feet behind the board for a 42-2.

“The first two jumps were pretty good,” Martelli said. “After that I hurt so bad.”

Martelli was referring to the pain he felt, not when running, but when taking off on his right leg. “It’s the last phase and the last phase counts for so much,” he said.

Riverhead coach Sal Loverde said Martelli never had a problem being far off the board before. “He’s been so consistent with that ever since I’ve been working with him for years,” said Loverde.

Last year Martelli took second in this meet, covering 43-11 1/2.

The triple jump is a complicated event, with its various phases. “There’s so many things that have to sync perfectly for it to work,” Martelli said. “It’s hard to have everything go exactly the same way every time.”

Asked if he had done anything differently tonight, Martelli said: “My steps were definitely off. That was the only thing that was different.”

Martelli, who was 12th in the long jump at 19-2 3/4, said he had a tiring day and took a nap on the team bus on the way to Brentwood. All in all, though, he said he was still happy with how he did, board struggles aside.

Notes. This is how Riverheaders fared in other events: Aaron Walker (5-8) and Sean Allen (5-6) were eighth and ninth in the high jump. Eric Behr was 14th in the shot put with a throw of 39-9. Ryan Keane came in 12th in the 1,000 meters in 2 minutes, 46.62 seconds. Ryan Carrick was 16th in the 1,600 in 4:48.09.

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Photo caption: Riverhead coach Sal Loverde speaks with senior Kian Martelli before the triple jump competition begins Friday night at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. (Credit: Bob Liepa)