Girls Winter Track: Waves persevere through pain

No pain, no gain.

That’s how it is in track and field. At least a couple of Riverhead High School girls could relate to that Saturday in the Section XI large school team championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.

Riverhead juniors Christina Yakaboski and Miasha Pittman sure felt pain, but that didn’t stop either of them.

Despite feeling under the weather, Yakaboski competed in both the 1,000 meters and the 4×800 relay.

Yakaboski anchored the relay team, which finished fifth in 10 minutes, 12.86 seconds. That relay team saw a change. A hamstring injury to junior Kristina Deraveniere prompted the insertion of freshman Ava Sumwalt into the leadoff spot. Juniors Emma Conroy and Megan Kielbasa handled the next two legs.

They were hoping to surpass the school record of 10:07 that Deraveniere, Conroy, Kielbasa and Yakaboski clocked last year.

Yakaboski said that when she received the baton, “I was excited because we were still in the range for breaking the record, but by the end I was really tired.”

Bay Shore finished first in the team scoring with 56 points. Riverhead (five points) came in 19th among 20 teams.

Yakaboski’s day had started with the 1,000. She held second place until the last 100 to 150 meters when four runners passed her, leaving her to finish sixth in 3:09.13. Another Riverhead junior, Madison Kelly, was 16th in 3:24.66.

“I hit a wall with 100, 150 meters to go,” Yakaboski said. “I’m a little under the weather today, so that was the best I could do today. It was honestly just a struggle to cross the finish line.”

Riverhead coach Justin Cobis said Yakaboski “came in not feeling 100 percent, and that being said, still put herself in position to do well.”

Pittman faced something of a struggle himself. For the first time in her career, she ran the 300 twice in one meet. During the trials, she clocked 43.70. Then, her time in the final was nearly identical, a mere 1/100th of a second slower. That left her in fifth place.

“It’s a coincidence,” Pittman said of her times.

As a sophomore and a freshman, Pittman ran the 300 but didn’t qualify for the final. This time, though, she was among the six finalists, sending her to the starting line for a second time.

“The question is: How much energy can you conserve in that preliminary heat without risking qualifying for the finals?” Cobis said. “So she had to kind of ease off the gas pedal in the first race, in the semifinal, so that she’d have some strength left for the second race. So, in doing so, she didn’t get her best time in either [race].”

When Pittman was finished for the day, she was hurting. Asked how she felt, she answered: “Hurting. My chest hurts so bad, but I’m doing good. It was a good race.”

Pittman, who took first in the League II Championships in a personal-record 43.31, is chasing the school record of 43.24.

“It pushes me every time,” she said. “It makes me want to be better, knowing I’m so close to it.”

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Photo caption: Riverhead junior Miasha Pittman finished fifth in the 300 meters in 43.71 seconds. (Credit: Bob Liepa)