Girls winter track season wraps up at county championships

Riverhead placed 12th out of 21 teams in the Section XI Girls Winter Track Large School Championships at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus Saturday morning. North Babylon finished in first place. 

The Blue Waves were able to score 8 points with a second place finish in shot put. Ja’dah Williams Booker had a performance to remember as she shoved the shot 35 feet, 2.5 inches on her fifth attempt. Also contributing to the point scoring was sophomore high jumper Kayleanne Campbell. She jumped over the bar at 4’11 to secure third place for the Blue Waves. Jaime Elwood was expected to contend for the podium in the 55-meter hurdles but unfortunately was disqualified for a false start at the beginning of the heat. She was visibly upset after the ruling as Riverhead girls track coach, Maria Dounelis, went to console her. 

“She’s never false started before,” Dounelis said. “It’s tough because this kid works so hard every day. The only thing you can do is learn from the moment.”

Dounelis is hoping Elwood will still be able to compete in next week’s New York State qualifier because she was ranked among the top runners in the county coming into the meet. 

“I tell all my top athletes that things are going to happen sometimes,” Dounelis said. “It helps you grow as an athlete.”

Southold placed 12th out of 23 teams in the second half of the Section XI Girls Winter Track Championships that featured all of Suffolk County’s small schools. Westhampton Beach finished in first place with 66 points.

Olivia Misiukiewicz was one of the standout athletes for the Settlers as she was able to secure third place in the high jump. The long-legged junior cleared an impressive 5’2 on her first attempt. She tried her best to eclipse 5’3 but just didn’t have enough spring.

“I think Olivia did awesome today,” Settlers track coach Tim McArdle said. “She hit the mark for her high on the year. 5 foot 2 is her best jump of the year. Wasn’t as good as last year but we’re working hard to keep progressing.”

The other athlete that earned points for Southold was Cameron Stanton. Her best event is long jump and coming into the meet, McArdle thought she would be able to win it.

“I’m hoping to take first place,” McArdle said before Stanton’s jumps. “I think she’s going to need a 17 to 17.5 foot jump to place first.”

Stanton fell just short of that mark at 16 feet, 10.5 inches. The score was good enough for second. Leslie Samuel of East Hampton took first with a jump of 17 feet, 10.25 inches.

Shoreham-Wading River finished in 15th place with 9 points. Freshman Olivia Pesso set a personal record in the 3000-meter run with a time of 10:18.23. That time awarded her fourth place in the event. She also finished seventh in the 1500-meter run. Being so young in a varsity event could be intimidating, but not for Pesso.

“I like racing against these older girls,” Pesso said. “It inspires me to push hard and become better than them when I get older. I also do cross country so it should help my times get better on the long distance. Feels good to get my [personal record] but I just wish I was a little faster today.”

Also scoring points for the Wildcats was Madison Zelin. The senior ran the 55-meter hurdles in 9.19 seconds to attain fourth place. Zelin was also part of the 4×200 relay that finished in sixth place. Naomi Harris, Abigail Mets and Jessica Nastasi ran the other three legs in that event.

Mattituck finished in 22nd place with 3 points. Sophomore Casey Szczotka ran a time of 9.29 seconds in the 55-meter hurdle finals to secure sixth place. The Tuckers also scored 2 points for a fifth-place finish in the 4×200 relay. That event featured Szczotka, Nyla Nieves, Jessica Rakoczy and Alvia Apparu. They completed the relay in 1:54.81.