Something very special is in the pipeline for the Huntington High School boys’ track and field program. The Blue Devils dominated the Suffolk frosh/soph championships at Suffolk-West in Brentwood on Wednesday and showcased their spectacular young athletes.
Huntington’s freshman and a handful of eighth graders put on a show with strong performances in the sprints, middle distance, jumps and throws. The Blue Devils’ first place team score of 90 points dwarfed runner up Smithtown East’s 34 and third place Sachem North’s 31 along with the rest of the 31 teams comprising this year’s field.
After 20 plus heats, the Blue Devils found themselves with three athletes in the 55m dash finals. Nasir Youngblood ran a personal best of 6.96 seconds in the trials of the first heat. Anthony Ortiz placed second in the next heat with a time of 7.23, earning himself with a spot in the finals and eighth grade sensation Josiah Melendez won the third heat in 7.29.
The finals saw Youngblood run to a first place finish with Ortiz and Melendez taking fourth and fifth, respectively. One competing coach just stood and stared, saying aloud to himself, “Simply outstanding.”
Isaiah James was sensational in the 1000m run, putting distance between himself and the rest of the field in the opening lap and going on to win a gold medal in 2:55.46. The time is about three seconds off his best mark, which was recorded at the New Balance Track & Field Center in Manhattan on what is billed as the “fastest track in the world.”
Anthony Joseph continued to dazzle fans with his amazing speed and talent, easily vanquishing the field of 24 in the 300m dash and winning a gold medal in 38.02 seconds.
In the 3200m run, Aidan Heller found himself in a drawn-out battle with runners from Northport, Ward Melville and Center Moriches. Each runner would lead for a lap or two, then give the lead to the another runner. Heller managed to stay near the front of the pack, placing third in a field of 19. “He finished in an amazing time of 10:49.23; his best of the season,” said Ron Wilson, Huntington’s head coach.
Joseph, Turner, Melendez and Youngblood later put on a show in the 4x200m relay, running the fastest freshman meet time ever with a mark of 1:38.08. The relay led off with the eighth grade sensation, Melendez who took off like he was shot out of a cannon. “He handed off to Youngblood who stretched the lead to about 50 meters,” Wilson said. “He handed off to Turner who then handed the baton to Joseph. You could hear the whispers of coaches saying their varsity teams don’t run 1:38. Another coach whispered loudly, ‘Huntington is not rebuilding, it is just reloading!’ We thought that was rather funny.”
The 4x800m relay of Heller, McKenzie, James and Carlos Martinez captured a gold medal, too, finishing in 9:13.36.
In other freshman action for the Blue Devils:
• Andrew McKenzie placed sixth in a field of 27 in the 1000m run with a fine time of 2:59.19.
• In high jump, Trevan Meagher gave everything he had to clear 5-06 feet, but he clipped the bar with his leg each time. He still managed to leap 5-03 feet for fourth place.
• Mekai Butts found himself in a fierce battle in shot put with throwers from Commack and Center Moriches. Butts ultimately prevailed in the field of 29, winning the county freshman championship with a toss of 38-05.75 feet, an inch and three-quarters beyond runner-up Jake Shaw of Commack. Huntington’s Liam McDonald was 10th with a throw of 30-09.75 feet.
• In the 600m dash, Jason Turner was put in the third heat rather than the first heat with the eventual first and second place finishers. The Huntington teenager turned in a time of 1:36.19 to finish third overall in a field of 24. “He would have been more aggressive and probably won the event if he was challenged,” Wilson said. “Jason needs to be more confident and know that he can run with the best of them if he puts his mind to it.”
• The 4x400m relay team of Ortiz, Meagher, eighth grader Bryce Robinson and Kyeon Lyons earned a silver medal by placing second in 4:12.76, less than two seconds off of Sayville’s winning time.
Huntington’s Magnificent Sophomores
Huntington’s small group of sophomores were also magnificent in the competition. Justin Stevens finished second out of 36 runners in the 600m dash in a time of 1:28.26. Gary Barash placed third in a field of 34 in shot put with a personal best throw of 39-02 feet.
The 4x400m relay of Jaylen Bush, Justin Verville, Stevens and Michael Persilot finished fifth in 3:54.94.
Bush was also impressive in the 55m hurdles qualifying heat, but he had a second in the finals. “Jaylen ran the fastest time of the day with a mark of 8.54 seconds, a hundredth of a second short of his personal best,” Wilson said. “However in the finals, he slipped out of the blocks and finished in sixth.” Gold medalist Dennis Chen of Ward Melville ran 8.60 in the finals.