Girls Winter Track: Two Riverhead records fall

The girls winter track record board in the Riverhead High School hallway outside the gym needs to be updated.

Two Riverhead records were set in two meets over two successive nights, and three seniors had legs in both of them.

Mighty impressive stuff.

Riverhead records in the 4×1,600 and 4×800 meters went down earlier this week, no small thanks to seniors Madison Kelly, Megan Kielbasa and Christina Yakaboski, who participated in both record-setting runs.

The Blue Waves set a new mark in the 4×1,600 in the Zeitler Relays Tuesday on the flat track at Suffolk County Community College’s Suffolk Federal Arena. Kelly handled the leadoff leg as Riverhead triumphed in League I in 22 minutes and 41.60 seconds.

In doing that, the foursome abolished the previous mark of 23:31.68 that was set in 2016. Kielbasa was a member of that team, too.

“This was not a question of if, but when and by how much, and they blew the doors off of it,” Riverhead coach Justin Cobis said. “They beat it by nearly 50 seconds, which is a big deal.”

Perhaps an even bigger deal came the next night in the Millrose Games Trials at The Armory in Manhattan. Riverhead sat Kelly out and had junior Linda Pomiranceva run the opening leg of the 4×800 relay. Once again the three seniors ran exceptionally well and Riverhead finished sixth among 11 teams in the invitational final in 9:48.56. Pomiranceva (2:28) and Kielbasa (2:26) both ran their fastest split times ever and Yakaboski turned in a season-best 2:22.

Union Catholic won in 9:21.86.

Riverhead didn’t qualify for the Millrose Games, but its time crushed the school record of 10:07.63, set in 2018 by a team that included Kielbasa and Yakaboski.

“They had to race two nights in a row,” said Cobis, who noted that the 9:48.56 is currently the second-fastest time this season by a Long Island team. “Had they been fresh, they might have been faster.”

“I could not be more proud of this group,” he continued. “As seniors going out, they deserve it, and the girls in that supporting role, they stepped up because they wanted to provide that opportunity for the seniors.”

As it turns out, this is Cobis’ farewell season with the Blue Waves as well. He will leave Riverhead later this month to accept a position as an assistant principal in the Southampton School District. Following his departure, Maria Dounelis will take over as the head coach for the remainder of the season.

Cobis’ final act as a Riverhead school employee will be coaching the Blue Waves in the League I Championships Jan. 18 at Suffolk Federal Arena.

“I put my heart and soul into this for the last dozen years,” he said. “There’s never a good time to walk away, but it might be the best opportunity.”