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Kenny Charles

Kyree Johnson captures four, Huntington wins first-place team title

Infinite Tucker flies down the track. Photo from Huntington athletics

Infinite Tucker put on one of the most dominating performances ever seen in the New York State Track and Field Championships, winning six gold medals to lift Huntington to a first place finish in the team standings last weekend in Syracuse.

Huntington head coach Ronald Wilson and assistant coaches Eli Acosta and Haidee Bonhurst couldn’t have asked for more from the Blue Devil stars.

“What can I say?” asked Wilson rhetorically. “All those medals speak for themselves.”

The 6-foot, 5-inch 205-pound Tucker won New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division I titles in the 110-meter high hurdles, 400 intermediate hurdles and 4×400 relay, and then went on to win three more gold medals in the same events in the state federation finals when he defeated the top athletes from Division I, Division II and the state’s private and parochial schools.

Tucker is one of the toughest competitors that Huntington has ever fielded in any sport. Despite achieving mind-boggling individual honors, the athlete puts his team above himself. The senior notched the fastest 400 relay split, 47 seconds, of the weekend, which is an impressive feat considering he competed in multiple events and was running on “tired legs.”

“A gold medal is the great achievement and honor that a high school athlete can receive,” Tucker said. “But I would swap any title to be given another chance to run with my team.”

It was a special weekend for Kyree Johnson, who captured four gold medals in the 400 dash and 4×400 relay, winning NYSPHSAA Division I and federation crowns.

“There are a lot of great athletes in New York State, especially in the 400 dash,” Johnson said. “Fortunately, I came away with the state title this weekend, not only in the 400, but my relay won as well. I’m very proud of my teammates and very appreciative of my coaches.”

Huntington’s 4x400-meter Shane McGuire, Kyree Johnson, Infinite Tucker and Lawrence Leake broke the Suffolk County and state record in the event to win gold. Photo from Huntington athletics
Huntington’s 4×400-meter Shane McGuire, Kyree Johnson, Infinite Tucker and Lawrence Leake broke the Suffolk County and state record in the event to win gold. Photo from Huntington athletics

In only his second season of flinging the discus, senior Kenny Charles finished third in the state federation on Saturday with a throw of 177 feet, 11 inches, which set a new Huntington school record in the event. The athlete had earlier taken fourth in the NYSPHSAA Division I competition with a throw of 166 feet.

Wilson was happy with Charles’ performance in the Division I finals on Friday.

“No one could have ever predicted that he would throw an additional 12 feet on Saturday,” the coach said. The distance shattered Trayvon Toney’s Huntington record of 170 feet, 7 inches.

“Finally being able to break the school record is a testament to the exceptional coaching of coaches Wilson and Bonhurst,” Charles said. “I only began throwing last season and because of their instruction, I have been able to place in big meets, make it to states and nationals, and break the school record.”

In the 800 run, Shane McGuire finished sixth in NYSPHSAA Division I and eighth in the state federation to grab a bronze medal. The junior also ran on the gold medal winning 4×400 relay.

“Overall, it was a great weekend for the team,” McGuire said. “It was my first time competing individually at the states and although I wish I did a little better, going up against the best in New York was awesome. Most of those competing in the championship were seniors, so that gets me excited for next year.”

Junior Lawrence Leake ran the leadoff leg of the gold medal-winning relay and was sensational before handing the baton off to Johnson.

“We are always looking to impress and standout,” Leake said.

The relay’s time of 3 minutes, 15 seconds set new Suffolk and Huntington records in the event.

“Our 4×400 relay stayed focused,” McGuire said. “Even with three of us running in other events, we were able to still run strong and win with our best time yet.”

The Blue Devils racked up 46 points in the state federation team standings, easily outdistancing runners-up Maine-Endwell and Wilson Magnet School, which scored 26 points. Among competing schools, 71 teams scored at least one point in the competition.

“This has been an incredible season,” Wilson said. “It’s a special group of young men. They have been wonderful ambassadors for Huntington wherever they have gone.”

The Huntington track and field standouts will compete one more time this spring when they travel to the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro this weekend.

Infinite Tucker competes in the long jump. Photo by Darin Reed

The Huntington boys’ and girls’ track and field teams competed in the New York State Track and Field championship qualifier last weekend at Port Jefferson high school. Members of both squads excelled and even broke records, with multiple athletes on the boys’ squad qualifying to compete at the state level next weekend.

Boys’ track and field
In one of the most dominating performances ever, Huntington senior Infinite Tucker qualified for the championships in four different events and won gold medals in each of them.

One of the top high school athletes in the country, Tucker captured gold medals in the 110-meter high hurdles, 400 intermediate hurdles, long jump and the 4×400 relay, to pace the Blue Devils.

Infinite Tucker competes in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles at the state qualifier. Photo by Darin Reed
Infinite Tucker competes in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles at the state qualifier. Photo by Darin Reed

Tucker was on top of his game at the Section XI state qualifier, easily winning the long jump last Friday afternoon with a leap of 23 feet, 4.75 inches before sweeping to victory in three other events on Saturday.

The Huntington athlete won the 110 high hurdles in a time of 14.27 seconds; went on to set new school, meet and county marks in the 400 intermediate hurdles when he crossed the finish line in a stunning 51.23 seconds, which was 2.32 ahead of runner-up Spencer Payton of Longwood; and anchored the Blue Devils’ 4×400 relay team, which grabbed first place with a time of 3 minutes, 15.48 seconds, shattering the existing Suffolk record. Huntington finished about two seconds ahead of runner-up Half Hollow Hills West. Kyree Johnson, Lawrence Leake and Shane McGuire ran the first three legs of the race, respectively.

“Infinite’s performance speaks for itself,” said Huntington head coach Ron Wilson. “It was beyond dominating; it was simply amazing. He’s a gifted child who loves to compete and who strives to win every time he’s on the track.”

Johnson and McGuire also qualified for the state championships in their respective events. Johnson set new meet records in the 400 dash on both Friday and Saturday, capturing Saturday’s county final in a blazing fast time of 47.78.

McGuire notched an upset victory in the 800 run, coming out of nowhere to topple several heavily favored runners. The junior ran his fastest time ever in the event, circling the track twice in 1:53.64.

Kenny Charles hurls the discus. Photo by Darin Reed
Kenny Charles hurls the discus. Photo by Darin Reed

“Shane and Kyree were just great,” Wilson said. “They came to the meet with one thing in mind: winning. It was an incredible feeling to watch them win Suffolk titles and qualify for the state championships. They’ve both worked so hard and to see that payoff is a wonderful sight.”

Kenny Charles qualified for the state finals in discus, finishing second in Suffolk County with a long throw of 162 feet, 2 inches. It was about five feet off the senior’s best, but still far surpassed the state qualifying standard.

Charles is one of Suffolk’s best basketball players, but decided last year to give spring track a try and, in a short period of time, mastered the discus to the point where he will be advancing to the finals.

Girls’ track and field
Being a competitive athlete himself, girls’ track and field head coach Shawn Anderson knows only too well that not everything is going to go right on any given day.

So it was for the Blue Devils, which closed out its season last Saturday at the Suffolk state qualifier.

While he wishes a few more breaks came the Blue Devils’ way, Anderson also feels his athletes gave the team everything they had.

“The state qualifying meet always brings out the heat and the competition,” said Anderson. “Today was no exception.”

Alexandra Koumas leaps over the hurdle at a previous meet. Photo by Darin Reed
Alexandra Koumas leaps over the hurdle at a previous meet. Photo by Darin Reed

Senior Alexandra Koumas set a new school record in the 400 hurdles, breaking a mark she had previously set, when she crossed the finish line in 1:04.83 in the preliminary heat. The athlete went on to finish fourth in the finals and garner All-County honors.

“She went out super aggressive,” Anderson said. “She needed to in order to hang with the top three.”

All in all, Anderson said it was a great way to have the team end its season.

“As always, each year the group of girls that we have continues to impress me and defy even my expectations,” he said. “For the underclassmen, it just makes them hungrier for next year as they look to improve. As for the seniors, it is always bittersweet when the season ends, but we always look to the future to continue the tradition that’s been established and continuously raise the bar. They laid it all on the track and finished with very impressive times — a testament to their hard work over their careers at Huntington.”

Huntington's Kenny Charles leaps up to the rim in the Blue Devils' 61-35 victory over Centereach on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Huntington turned up the heat in the second half to close the door on previously undefeated Centereach, 61-35, in League III boys’ basketball action Tuesday night.

Centereach's Jake Marzocca shoots in the Cougars' 61-35 loss to Huntington on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Jake Marzocca shoots in the Cougars’ 61-35 loss to Huntington on Jan. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach was previously 3-0 in league play and 6-1 overall, while Huntington sat at 1-2 and 1-6 before the win. The game was close after eight minutes of play, as the Cougars were ahead, 10-9, to open the second quarter, despite both teams being sluggish from the opening tipoff. The Blue Devils found their rhythm and the rim in the second, to pull ahead with the victory.

Huntington came alive behind the hot hands of senior guard Kenny Charles, who notched 10 points in the quarter after hitting a pair of three-pointers, a field goal and two foul shots. Teammate Quincy Nelson matched Charles with a pair of treys of his own to help put his team out front, 33-16, by the halftime break.

“We trusted each other and we executed out on the court, and that’s how we got the ‘W,’” said Nelson, who is also a senior guard. “They’re a very good team and coach told us at halftime that we had to take better shots.”

Huntington was patient in the second half, choosing to wait for the open shot rather than drive the lane. The Blue Devils were content with letting their three-point proficiency dominate the third quarter, as Charles hit his fourth and junior guard and forward Kevin Lawrence hit his second, while Nelson was fouled attempting his third, sending him to the charity stripe shooting three. Nelson was perfect from the line, and Huntington surged ahead 43-24 to begin the final eight minutes in regulation.

Huntington's Quincy Nelson sets the play in the Blue Devils' Jan. 5 61-35 victory over Centereach. Photo by Bill Landon
Huntington’s Quincy Nelson sets the play in the Blue Devils’ Jan. 5 61-35 victory over Centereach. Photo by Bill Landon

“We haven’t seen Huntington — we saw them once last year,” Centereach senior guard Kevin Callahan said. “We were told that they were going to shoot, and I guess we didn’t respect it, and they punished us for that.”

Charles said that knowing Centereach’s record, his team expected the worst, adding that all his team thought about was playing to win the game.

“We’re 1-2 in the league and our record doesn’t give our team justice,” he said. “In the second half, we knew we couldn’t let up. The game was far from over, but we came out with the win.”

Callahan hit his first three-pointer of the game and added a field goal in the fourth quarter, while fellow senior Jake Marzocca, a forward, found the net for two points, but the Cougars couldn’t keep the pace.

Centereach head coach Ed Miller, fresh off a recent scouting report, told his team that Huntington is a long-range scoring threat, but the Blue Devils were still hard to contain.

“We needed to do a better job at stepping out on them,” Marzocca said. “And when we did step out on them, it didn’t help. They were just hitting their shots — it was their game.”

Centereach's Kevin Callahan scores in the Blue Devils' Jan. 5 61-35 loss to Huntington. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Kevin Callahan scores in the Blue Devils’ Jan. 5 61-35 loss to Huntington. Photo by Bill Landon

For Huntington, the fourth quarter was all senior guard Dan Mollitor, who hit his third trifecta of the game and nailed a pair of free throws, while Charles hit a pair of three-pointers to finish with six on the night, as Huntington slammed the door on Centereach.

“They’re very, very good — I’ve picked them second in the league, and they’re at a different level than us right now,” Miller said. “I didn’t expect it to be an almost 30-point loss, but I expected them to be very good, especially at their own home place.”

Charles led his team with 26 points, followed by Lawrence, who added 13.

On the top of the scoring list for Centereach was Marzocca with 12 points, while Callahan followed close behind with nine.

Huntington hits the road today, as the Blue Devils invade West Islip, with opening tipoff scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Centereach will host North Babylon today at 6:15 p.m.

This versions corrects the name of Jake Marzocca.