The stats on paper seemed to indicate that the Huntington girls’ indoor track and field team was destined for a fourth place finish at last Saturday’s Suffolk League III championships, but the Blue Devils had other ideas.
Huntington surged behind several strong individual and team performances to claim the runner-up spot. “What a meet,” said assistant coach Shawn Anderson. “The girls really worked well as a whole team and shocked a few people as we took second overall behind a strong West Babylon team. Our depth showed and that is what allowed us to continue our run of strong showings in the league standings.”
Head coach Debra Cheskes was pleased with the effort and results turned in by her athletes. The track veteran has a mix of upper and lower classmen on the team who have been steadily improving over the course of the season.
One of the most stirring performances came from junior Nicole Abbondandelo, who returned from injury related surgery to finish second in the 3000m run. “This was her first real test,” Anderson said. “She was nervous, as everyone else has had cross country and most of the winter season to get ready. She raced with guts.”
Abbondandelo posted a time of 11:16.12, capturing second in a field of 22. “It was just the rust-buster to get her ready for a solid spring season,” Anderson said.
The Blue Devils’ depth clearly showed in the 1500m race-walk with Huntington placing three runners among the top six finishers. Sophomore Erika Varady set a new school record with a time of 7:31.59. Sophomore Keily Rivas placed third in 7:43.84 and junior Nicole Arenth finished sixth in 8:38.43. “Our walkers really put it on the line and it showed,” Cheskes said.
In other highlights for Huntington:
55m high hurdles: Ryann Gaffney placed second with her first sub-nine second time of the season, crossing the finish line in 8.97 seconds. “She is ahead of her times from last year,” Anderson said.
600m dash: Marina Ruzic notched a personal best when the team needed it the most, placing fourth in 1:43.71. Sophie Dellecave dipped under 1:50 for the first time this winter by crossing the finish line in 1:49.99, which put her 10th in a field of 29.
1000m run: Louise Koepele (3:19.67) and Alexis Pastorelli (3:22.64) took 10th and 11th, respectively, in a field of 29.
Long jump: Rebecca Caballero tied for first place with a leap of 16-05.75 feet. Ruzic placed fourth with a jump that measured 16-02.50 feet.
Triple jump: Caballero took sixth place with a distance of 32-11.00 feet. Mackenzie Joseph tied for eighth place with a leap of 32-00.50.
Shot put: Jolena Smith placed sixth with a toss of 29-08.00 feet.
1500m run: Niamh Condon placed sixth in a time of 5:25.43. Hadley Clayton was seventh in 5:26.77.
4x200m relay: Joseph, Catie Ricciardelli Liz Berejka and Gaffney finished fifth in 1:56.28.
4x400m relay: Gaffney, Ruzic, Caballero and Dellecave cruised to a third place showing in 4:23.54.
4x800m relay: Koepele, Abbondandelo, Condon and Clayton placed fourth in 10:38.14.
“The team had 15 season best performances,” Cheskes said. “These performances helped us capture second place. Our race walk trio of Erika, Keily and Nicole had perfect form as noted by the officials. This group will continue to push each other at every workout to be the best in the county.”
Huntington’s 68 points trailed only West Babylon with 94.33. “We are so proud of how they performed and rose to the occasion as a team,” Anderson said. “Every year the make-up of a team can change and this was no different, but these girls still showed up and competed with toughness when it counted most.”
The Blue Devils will compete again next Sunday (January 29) in the Jim Howard Invitational. The Suffolk championships are set for Sunday, February 5. The state qualifier will be held on Monday, February 13.