Northport track outruns Middle Country for League II win
By Bill Landon
With twice the number of athletes, Northport’s boys’ track and field team dominated the League II meet on its home track Tuesday to win the meet 105-20.
Middle Country head coach George Royce said that most of the districts’ athletes come from Newfield, so a venue change earlier in the year adversely affected his team.
“At the very beginning of the season the athletic director moved us to Centereach, so a lot of our athletes [from Newfield] just didn’t come out for the team,” Royce said. “The Newfield kids didn’t want to take the bus over, and we lost quite a few good athletes, so we’re really short.”
Short or not, finishing fifth for Middle Country in the 3,200-meter run was sophomore Luis Antonio Fernandez, a second-year varsity runner who had never competed in the event before.
“We only had one kid in it and I already ran the 1,600 and I wasn’t feeling that good for the 800,” Fernandez said. “So I wanted to wait a little bit so I could recover.”
Northport freshman Isaih Claiborne was at the head of the pack for the 3,200, and stayed with the leader, making big kicks down the final 200-meter stretch to cross the finish line at 11 minutes, 36.3 seconds.
Crossing the finish line first in the 1,600 was a tie between Northport senior Michael Cossaro and junior Sam Napoli, who both finished in 4:59.03.
Northport head coach Bob Burkley said his team’s victory was due to the number of competitors his team fielded this day. Burkley has been coaching for years and also noted that he coached Middle Country’s head coach back in 1974.
“The team aspect is what won it for us,” Burkley said. “It was a team effort because they ran in groups, and that was the key.”
Middle Country standout Denzel Williams, a junior, is a premier sprinter and one of the fastest kids in League II, according to his coach. While he believes Chris Weiner is the best pole-vaulter in the league.
Williams, who won the 100 in 11.6, said that the running conditions weren’t the best, as he ran slower than his personal best of 11.2.
“The wind affected me — it was a long bus ride here and I didn’t get a good warm up,” said Williams, who specializes in the 100, 200 and long jump events.
With the win, Northport improved to 2-1, while Middle Country dropped to 0-3.
Despite the strong athletes Royce has, the coach said his team has a tough time filling the roster to compete against the bigger teams.
“We’re very young, with only one senior and we have talent, but we’re small and have trouble competing against these larger schools,” he said.
Middle Country will host Sachem North on Tuesday at 4 p.m., and Northport will travel to Connetquot Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.