By Bill Landon
The Ward Melville girls’ track and field team stretched its legs at a crossover meet Dec. 11 at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus, and distance delivered.
Patriots combine for a mix of talented youth and experienced veterans this season, and Ward Melville head coach Tom Youngs said despite clearing off the cobwebs, the girls put up solid performances.
“This year we’re talented, and we have depth in the middle distance events,” he said, referencing strong finishes in the 600-, 1,000-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter races.
In the 3,000, the Patriots had three Top 5 finishers in juniors Christina O’Brien and Amanda Dagnelli, and sophomore Allison Nemesure. O’Brien finished second in 12 minutes, 52.09 seconds, Dagnelli in fourth in 12:55.80 and Nemesure in fifth with a time of 12:14.70.
Showing both talent and bloom was freshman Elizabeth Radke who took first in the 1,500 with a time of 5:07.84 seconds.
Sophomores Kate Cochran, Shannon Ryan and Sina Maase finished fourth, sixth and seventh respectively, in 5:12.39, 5:21.39 and 5:23.52.
Juniors Samantha Sturgess and Allyson Gaedje crossed the finish line in a near tie for first place in the 1,000, but a review revealed Sturgess won by a nose, clocking in at 3:14.52 while Gaedje tripped the gun at 3:14.56.
Ward Melville’s middle distance runners continued to impress, as the Patriots swept the top three spots in the 600, which was another photo finish. Senior Hannah Hobbes stopped the clock at 1:45.66 for first place, junior Samantha Rutt came in second at 1:45.80 and Hannah’s twin sister Madison placed third with a time of 1:46.49. Senior Megan Raferty wasn’t far behind, finishing in 1:49.52 for fifth place.
Youngs said he also has a strong 4×400 relay team.
“We competed last year at the Millrose Games where we finished second with a time of 4:00.99,” he said, adding that the time qualified for his team to compete in the outdoor state championship, where it set a new school record.
On Sunday, the quartet finished third in 4:35.19.
The 55-meter hurdles fielded eight waves of six, and it was senior Marina Vostrova who claimed the top spot in 9.38 seconds.
Another freshman who made her presence known was Allison D’Angio. She cleared 4-feet, 8-inches in the high jump to earn second place, and claimed the same position in the long jump with a leap of 15-feet, 10.25 inches. Both performances were new personal bests.
“I thought I did pretty well,” D’Angio said. “I’ll be doing a lot of drills with [assistant] coach J.P. Dion, so I’ll look to do better next week.”
While Youngs said his team struggles in field events, he noted the Patriots are missing a top thrower he hopes to have back net week. He said he’s proud of the work being done on the track though, and believes he will only continue to see improvement.
“We had a good day,” he said. “We worked on a few things, we improved upon a couple of things from last week … the race is in their legs and as [we progress] the times will come.”