Kyree Johnson

Blue Devil Boys’ Track Looks to Repeat as Suffolk Champs

Kyree Johnson flies through the air. (Darin Reed photo.)

March 23, 2017

Will this be another mythical spring season for the Huntington High School boys’ track and field team? After losing the magnificent Infinite Tucker to graduation, the Blue Devils are missing an important cog in their powerful machine of recent years, but three national champions are returning for the defending county champions.

Huntington looks to be among the top three teams on Long Island, despite a sometimes humbling winter season that saw some of the top Blue Devils’ performers go down with injuries or illness.

Seniors Kyree Johnson, Lawrence Leake and Shane McGuire are all back in the fold for their final season in a Huntington uniform. All three teenagers are All-Americans and state and national champions in the 4x400m relay.

Huntington won a long list of team and individual awards in 2016. “Last year, we boasted a roster that had talent and depth in just about every event,” said Ron Wilson, the Blue Devils’ highly regarded head coach. “Although we return three All- Americans, the rest of the team seems to be young and inexperienced. However, they are not short on talent. Our strength in terms of quality and balance will lie in that of our sprinters and jumpers.”

Johnson and Leake are coming off strong indoor seasons that saw the duo place 1-2 in the 300m dash and long jump. They are expected to reign supreme in the sprints this spring.

McGuire won the 800m county crown last spring and he is expected to once again be among Suffolk’s best in the middle distance events.

Eighth grade sensation Anthony Joseph is speedy and is improving by leaps and bounds. “He was one-fourth of our indoor season relay team that won league and county titles and advanced to the state finals,” Wilson said.

Huntington graduated an impressive cast of throwers, including Kenny Charles, Amaru Jones and Vernon Alexander. “We have a few throwers that will definitely draw some attention this year,” said Wilson optimistically.

Junior Clay Jamison has given up his lacrosse stick to throw shot and discus. The teenager earned All-League honors in shot put during the indoor season in shot. “He should definitely be a factor in both events this spring season,” Wilson said. “He’s big, strong and is starting to develop quickness in the circle.”

Senior Will Newton and junior Shateek Parler both earned All-League honors last spring and the duo is looking to continue improving in the shot and discus.

“Our distance program is in its developing stages as well,” Wilson said. Sophomore Eddie Maleszewski, junior Nick Sanin and senior Connor Grosso look to be factors in the distance events for the Blue Devils.

Huntington’s hurdlers are also still developing. Junior Brian Pierre and sophomore Jonathan Smith were both factors during the indoor season and they should continue to improve in the hurdles and triple jump. Ninth graders Rhaliek Thomason, Justin Stevens, and RJ Moreno bring a wealth of talent to the hurdles as well. “They are going to be rolling by the end of the season,” Wilson said.

Huntington’s coaching staff sees eighth graders Nasir Youngblood, Chad Rowe, Jason Turner and Isaiah Turner as future “impact athletes” in an assortment of events. “These young folk are full of talent and they love competing,” Wilson said.

The Blue Devils are aiming to advance several athletes to the state championships this spring. “We are looking to continue our dominance in League IV and Division II,” Wilson said. “We’ve won the League IV championship and the Division II championship for the past three years in a row. This year the pressure will be on to repeat. It’s always difficult to defend your championship title.”

The league includes tough squads from Bellport, Half Hollow Hills West, West Islip, West Babylon, Deer Park and Kings Park. Huntington will face significant competition from Riverhead, Smithtown East, Smithtown West, Copiague, North Babylon, East Islip, Eastport-South Manor, Hauppauge, Comsewogue and Harborfields at the Division II championships. “These teams boast some outstanding athletes who were county and state champions,” Wilson said.

Huntington battled Smithtown West to the wire during the indoor county championships, but fell one point short in the final standings. “They are returning quite a few distance and mid-distance sprinters as well,” Wilson said. “So with that in mind, we know and understand that our road to a championship is going to be a difficult one. However, our boys have never backed down to a challenge. Our top returning athletes are determined to compete at a high level and those who are joining us this season for the first time will look to make a name for themselves as well.”

Huntington will again travel to some of the most prestigious outdoor high school track meets in the country this spring. “These meets have provided avenues for our athletes to garner interest by the top universities in the country,” Wilson said. “With a bit of luck and good health, we should do well and be in a spot to repeat as champions.”

Kyree Johnson
Kyree Johnson (right) hits his stride.
Lawrence Leake
Lawrence Leake is one of the best Blue Devil runners.
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