Track and field: Stars to compete in Section XI state meet Friday

Local outdoor track and field athletes competed in the Section XI New York State championship qualifiers last Thursday and Friday at Comsewogue High School. Five qualified for the New York State meet, which will take place on Friday, June 7, at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

Kayleanne Campbell, Riverhead, High Jump

Much like she’s done for most of her career, Kayleanne Campbell was the last one standing again in a field of 24 high jumpers. Even though she already hit the state super standard jump of 5 feet, 4 inches to qualify for the state championship, Campbell went into the event in hopes of hitting a personal record.

“This was like a no pressure event for me,” Campbell said. “I know I already qualified so I just tried to achieve something that I haven’t before.”

After winning the event with a jump of 5’3, the junior asked the official if she can take three attempts at 5’6, which would be her highest jump ever. The official obliged and Campbell locked in on her target, telling her mom to stay in the stands after the win. 

“I’m going for 5’6,” she mouthed at her mother, making the numbers with her hands.

Last winter, Campbell eclipsed 5’5 and though she hasn’t cleared it this year in competitions, she’s been focused on the 5’6 number for the rest of the season. Her 5’4 super standard jump even qualified her for nationals. 

In Campbell’s first jump at 5’6, she instantly hit the bar and scowled in disappointment. After looking over the video with track coach Maria Dounelis, she walked back to her spot for the second attempt, leaping much higher this time but catching the bar again. The second jump definitely gave her confidence as the video showed that she did get high enough to clear the bar. 

With the final attempt on tap, Campbell took as much time as she was allowed and tried to focus on what she needed to do. Campbell knew exactly how to hit the jump and when she left the ground on her third attempt, it looked like she did indeed clear the bar — only to get her hand caught on the way back down.

“I was focusing on so many other things I forgot about something as basic as keeping my hand up,” Campbell said. “I would have made it over if it wasn’t for my hand. I’m focused on 5’6 and I’m going to get it. I have two more events this year to do it.”

Ja’dah Williams Booker, Riverhead, Shot Put

After falling just short in qualifying for the state championships in the winter, Ja’dah Williams Booker, in what very much could have been her final meet as a Blue Wave, didn’t want her high school career to end on Friday. In order to qualify for the state event, Williams Booker needed to either win the event or finish in second and pass the state standard of 38 feet. 

To that point, Williams Booker’s longest throw of the season was in the Nassau Coaches Invitational, where she reached 37’3. The senior has still been working her way back from a shoulder injury that basically ended her winter track season in 2023. Before she hurt her shoulder, she reached a distance of 39’2. 

“I was going to leave it all on the line today,” Williams Booker said. “I didn’t want my season to end and I knew I could do it.”

But when she lined up for her first throw of the competition, her follow-through took Williams Booker over the line, which was then called for a foul.

“Starting the event with a foul is not the way to start,” Williams Booker said. “But I had to clear it from my mind and focus on the next throw to get myself on the board.”

On her second attempt, Williams Booker the throw was recorded at 37’4. It was good enough to make the finals but it wasn’t enough to qualify for states. Getting into the finals afforded Williams Booker three more attempts and she made sure that she wouldn’t miss.

The senior let the shot fly in her first attempt of the finals and when it landed, Williams Booker’s facial expression said it all. She was confident it was her best throw.

“Thirty-eight two,” the official yelled. 

Williams Booker ran over to hug her family and coaches. The 38’2 throw was her best of the season. But she still had to finish second to qualify with Jillian Scully of Miller Place already posting a 45’8. When Maya Drame of Half Hollow Hills West only made it to 37’8, it sealed the deal. 

“I guess I’m going to states,” Williams Booker said. “Time to get back to work.”

Logan Jung, Shoreham-Wading River, High Jump

Logan Jung came into the competition already hitting the super standard jump of 6’4, so the results of this event didn’t figure into whether he was going to states or not. Even so, the sophomore jumped to a height of 6’4 again, which was good for a three-way tie for second place. His attempt for 6’5 was close and with a few tweaks, Jung could be on his way to new heights. Last season his highest jump was 6’0, so he’s made tremendous strides in a year of practice. Being so young, the sky’s the limit.

“I feel like I had a great season so far,” Jung said. “I’m really working at getting better. We started at 6’1 this season and we’ve been pushing the bar up inch by inch. I’m super happy where I’m at and I’m looking forward to states.”

Michael Huebner, Shoreham-Wading River,
800-Meter Dash

Flashing his ability and dominance, Michael Huebner put together his best performance of the season when he needed it most. Huebner competes in several different events, including the 200- and 400-meter dash, but when he runs the 800-meter, he’s light-years ahead of the competition.

“That’s his sweet spot,” SWR track coach Joe Mordarski said. “He’s good at any event he participates in, but without a doubt, the 800-meter dash is how he distinguishes himself from the rest of the participants.”

The junior posted a personal record time of 1:53.41 which won the event and qualified him for the state championship. He finished a full 3.5 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Jon Seyfert of Ward Melville. 

“The kid is just on another level,” Mordarski said. “And he’s just getting better.”

Leyton Mangiamele, Shoreham-Wading River,
Long Jump

Though Leyton Mangiamele finished in 13th in the event that included all the schools in Suffolk County, his 20-foot jump finished first out of participants from Division II schools. Because Section XI sends the best finishers in Division I and Division II, Mangiamele qualified for states.