After a scoreless first day that featured periodic spells of drenching rainfall, the Huntington boys’ track and field team came roaring back to finish third in the Suffolk Division II championships at Hampton Bays.
It was hard for Huntington head coach Ron Wilson to believe that his team got shutout on the first day of the competition, but the Blue Devil veteran had that famous smile on his face after the squad scored 60 points to outpace every school in the 16 team field except Smithtown West and Hauppauge.
Huntington rebounded on the strength of some impressive performances from its veterans and newcomers.
Junior Jonathan Smith and sophomore Justin Stevens finally put Huntington on the scoreboard with electrifying finishes in the 400m intermediate hurdles. Smith caught up to the pack in the final turn and passed Bellport’s Kyler Pizzo and Comsewogue’s Travis Colon down the stretch to claim his first individual divisional crown with a time of 54.98 seconds, which was the best of the day by any Suffolk athlete across all divisions in the event. Stevens closed on Colon late in the race and placed third in 57.14, which is a personal best for the teenager.
High jumpers Joe Garetano, Jaden Bholan, and Mehki Harvey had their hands full all day. Garetano and Bholan both cleared the 6-foot barrier to earn All-Division honors. Harvey clipped the bar at 5’8 and found himself out of the competition.
Freshman Isaiah James ran his best 800m run race of the season after finding himself in the seeded section with some of the top runners in the county and state. James finished the race in an exceptionally fast and personal best time of 2:01.74, which gave him seventh place. It was just shy of All-Division honors. “He was still a happy camper,” Wilson said.
Blue Devil freshman standout Anthony Joseph raced to a fourth place finish in the 400m dash, clocking a time of 51.94, which ranks him No. 1 among all ninth graders in the state. “We are proud of his progress,” Wilson said.
Huntington also accumulated plenty of points in the throwing events. Clay Jamison, Levi Leach, Shateek Parler and freshman Mekai Butts worked hard in the circle.
Butts advanced to the discus finals with a personal best throw of 114-08 feet. The teenager went on to finish fourth and garner All-Division honors.
Jamison had a career day, tossing the shot put 51-04 feet to win the Suffolk Division II title in the event. The throw ties him for the top spot in the county (across all divisions) with Commack’s Steven Vasile. Leach (45-08 feet) and Parler (42-00 feet) finished fourth and eighth respectively.
In the 4x100m relay, freshmen Nasir Youngblood, Jason Turner and Anthony Joseph and eighth grader Josiah Melendez qualified for the finals with the second fastest time (44.67) of the preliminary heats behind only Bellport’s 44.53. “We took Melendez out and replaced him with Smith at anchor for the finals on day two,” Wilson said. “What an incredible race!”
Smith got the baton slightly behind East Islip and with Bellport hot on his heels. The teenager closed well down the stretch and to claim another Suffolk Division II title for Huntington in a time of 43.90, the second fastest in Suffolk this spring.
The Blue Devils were finished just yet. Joseph and Smith still had to run in the 4x400m relay, which was set to go off five minutes after the 4x100m relay. The duo teamed up with Stevens and another freshman great, CJ Kiviat for a spectacular 4x400m relay.
Stevens ran a season best split of 51.84 handing the baton off in first place to Joseph who was cut off badly by a North Babylon runner, which caused him to run his slowest split (52.84) of the season. “He’s split 50 point before,” Wilson said. Joseph handed off to Kiviat in second place. Kiviat ran a personal best split of 51.6 to keep Huntington in contention. He handed off to Smith who ran a blistering 48.9, but was just shy of first place North Babylon. The Bulldogs finished in 3:23.97, just ahead of Huntington, which recorded a season best time of 3:24.61.
In the grueling pentathlon, Michael Drake compiled 2,600 points over the five events to take fourth place and secure All-Division honors. “It was a tough two day competition and we’re proud of him,” Wilson said.
Final team standings: 1. Smithtown West: 99; 2. Hauppauge: 88; 3. Huntington: 60; 4. East Islip: 46; 5. West Islip: 42; 6. North Babylon: 38; 7. Bellport: 37; 8.Copiague: 31; 9. Comsewogue: 30; 10. Half Hollow Hills West: 29; 11. Eastport-South Manor: 27; 12. Half Hollow Hills East: 21; 13. Kings Park: 18; 14. Smithtown East: 16; 15. Deer Park: 6; 16. West Babylon:1