That didn’t take long. Following just a handful of high level meets, the Huntington boys’ indoor track and field team has inched its way back into the state’s elite circle.
The Blue Devils showcased their talented corps during meets at the New Balance Track & Field Center in Manhattan and the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island. Huntington’s athletes found success on both the track and in several field events.
At the North Shore Invitational in New York City, freshman Anthony Joseph and junior Jonathan Smith vied in the 300m dash against some of the strongest sprinters in the Northeast. While neither of the teenagers garnered a medal, they both posted times that place them among the best on Long Island this winter.
Smith finished in seventh in a personal best time of 36.74 seconds, which ranks him No. 2 in Suffolk and No. 9 on LI. Joseph placed 13th with a personal best effort of 37.49 seconds. Joseph’s time ranks him the No. 1 among all New York State freshman according to MileSplit.com. “He’s showing great promise and we anticipate his times dropping even more by the end of the season,” said head coach Ron Wilson, who is assisted by Eli Acosta.
Joseph and Smith later teamed up with freshman Nasir Youngblood and senior Alex LaBella to win the 4x200m relay in a time of 1:33.54. It marks the third consecutive year that Huntington has captured a gold medal in this specific relay at the North Shore Invitational.
In other action at the North Shore Invitational:
• Senior Clay Jamison and junior Eric Sands both earned medals in shot put. Jamison’s toss of 45-03.25 feet gave him second place while Sands threw 45-01 feet, which placed him third. “They both had an opportunity to easily take the gold, but let the Ridgefield, NJ thrower outlast them with a toss of 46 feet,” Wilson said.
• Freshmen Isaiah James and Andrew McKenzie continue to show potential in the 1000m run. James finished in 2:52 while McKenzie in 2:57. The times rank the duo among some of the best 1000m freshmen runners in the state.
• Freshman Aidan Heller is also finding his best stride in the 1600m run. He ran a personal best time of 5:04. “We expect him to dip under five minutes real soon,” Wilson said.
James, McKenzie, Heller and Carlos Martinez teamed up in the 4x800m relay to outlast Sayville and West Windsor for the freshman division gold medal in the Ocean Breeze Holiday Classic. The talented ninth graders turned in a superb time of 9:14.
In other Ocean Breeze action in Staten Island:
• In the 4x200m relay, eighth grade sensation Josiah Melendez joined with James, Joseph and Jason Turner to post a phenomenal performance with a blazing fast time of 1:39. “Their time would have beaten some of the varsity times that day,” Wilson said. “The announcer, while commentating on the race said, ‘one thing is for sure and that is Huntington is never short on talent!’”
• The varsity 4x200m relay team of lead leg Aaron McQueen, LaBella, Smith and Joseph ran 1:32.65 in the trials placing second in their heat. “Unfortunately a botched hand-off and a rugged start cost us an even better time in the finals,” Wilson said. “They still managed to finish fifth in a time of 1:33. Without those two costly mistakes, it is quite possible we would have taken home gold.” Huntington’s time ranks No. 2 in Suffolk (1.25 seconds behind Brentwood) and No. 11 in the state.
• Smith, Joseph Turner and senior Arkim Pierre ran well in the 4x400m relay, placing sixth in a time of 3:32. We have a lot of work ahead of us in this event. “We have yet to find the right chemistry,” Wilson said. “A few years ago the stars aligned perfectly and brought us a national title in this event. We are a work in progress.”
• In the throwing events at Ocean Breeze, the Blue Devils once again found some success. Jamison tossed the shot 50-03 feet for a gold medal. Sands, Sam Bergman and Levi Leach all found it too difficult to get off a long enough throw to reach the finals. “Each of them are well-capable of tossing the shot 46 feet,” Wilson said.
• In the weight throw, it was Bergman that came away with the gold medal after a toss that was measured at 50-08.50 feet. “This toss has already met the requirement or standard for the state championship,” Wilson said. “He will just have to place first, second or third at the state qualifier. We expect that he will throw much farther than that as he continues to work on his technique.
• Jamison placed third in weight throw with a toss of 49-10-50 feet and Shateek Parler was sixth with an effort measuring 44-06 feet.
• In the 55m hurdles, senior Brian Pierre crossed the finish line in 8.38 seconds. “We have to get him a bit faster at the end of the race rather than at the start,” Wilson said. “Sophomores Jaylen Bush and Rhaliek Thomason also needs to be a bit faster at the end of the race. Bush ran a personal best of 8.72 while Thomason was tripped up at hurdle No. 3, causing him to run a time of 10.46.”
• Juniors Jaden Bholan and Joe Garetano along with senior Michael Drake competed in the high jump with Bholan grabbing a bronze medal with a leap of 5-10 feet while the others fell just short with jumps of 5-08 feet.
Huntington will travel to Lebanon, New Hampshire this weekend for the Dartmouth Relays. The meet will feature many of the top teams in the Northeastern United States. “We are starting to run on all cylinders,” Wilson said. “That is the plan by the time we get to the league championships.”