Tags Posts tagged with "Track and Field"

Track and Field

Sasson on the eve of her high school graduation. Photo by Steven Zaitz

Like every other graduating high school senior across Long Island, June has been a crazy month for Ward Melville’s track and field sensation Abigail Sasson.

Abigail Sasson high-jumping at Suffolk County Winter Track Championships in Brentwood this past February. Photo by Steven Zaitz

Between the graduation parties, final exams, prom, commencement ceremonies and saying goodbye to teachers and friends, high school’s final moments are a uniquely special time. 

However, Sasson’s June was perhaps crazier and a little more memorable than most.

On Father’s Day weekend, Abbi, as she is known to friends, family and teammates, had the opportunity to compete as a high jumper at the 2023 Nike Outdoor National Championships held at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Hayward Field, Oregon’s home arena, is considered hallowed ground for the sport of track and field. Nike co-founder Phil Knight is an alumnus, ran the mile for the school decades ago and since becoming a captain of industry has always had a vested interest in preserving the venue as a track and field mecca. Running stars Alberto Salazar, Keshia Baker and Steve Prefontaine were all Oregon Ducks, and this place is the track equivalent to Cooperstown or Canton.

This pilgrimage was a fitting way for the Nebraska native, who moved to Setauket when she was 10 years old, to finish off her storied career as a Lady Patriot. In wet conditions, Sasson was not able to clear 4 feet, 10½ inches in her three attempts, but for her, it was a personal victory in making the trip and earning the experience of performing on such a grand stage.

“At first it was jarring to be in such a huge and famous stadium in front of so many people, but it was great to compete against the best athletes in the country and in a setting that is so beautiful,” said Sasson, who made the 2,900-mile journey with her mom Lise. “This was the last meet of my high school career and to be able to do it at nationals in Oregon was an absolutely amazing experience that I will never forget.”

Back home in Setauket, Sasson is so much more than a high jumper, and she wears a lot of hats — as well as a lot of different shoes — for the Ward Melville track and field program. She excels at the pentathlon, which combines the 100-meter hurdles, long jump, high jump, shotput and the 800-meter run. Abbi is the reigning Suffolk champion for pentathlon, capturing the gold at the Section XI Championship at Commack this past May after winning silver as a junior in 2022. The versatile Sasson has earned all-county or all-league honors for triple jump, high jump and long jump in her career at Ward Melville and has been named as a Suffolk Scholar-Athlete all four years of high school.

Abbi Sasson at Nike Outdoor Nationals at University of Oregon in Eugene. Photo from Lise Sasson

“Since the eighth grade, Abbi has shown great ability to do multiple events,” said Ward Melville girls track and field head coach J.P. Dion. “She is an extremely bright kid who retains everything she is taught and loves to pass that information on to the younger kids. But in addition to being a great athlete and leader, I think the really special thing about Abbi is her heart.”

Dion has a lot of company feeling in this way. 

Last week, Sasson was presented the 2023 Ward Melville Spirit, Leadership and Cooperation Award, which was voted on by the entire Patriot athletic department. Abbi’s success on the track alone might have been enough to merit this award, but she won it while having to overcome a goodly dose of adversity, which was dealt to her just weeks into her senior year.

In October of 2022, Abbi was driving on Route 347, just south of Stony Brook University, when she was slammed from behind by another vehicle. Sasson suffered whiplash and a concussion, the effects of which she still feels today. She missed a chunk of school in the fall and was not allowed to compete for about six weeks. Although the injury made it difficult for her to read and she was not allowed to run or jump, it did not stop her from attending track practice.

“It was tough because I had to make up all my tests and get my college applications in before deadline,” Sasson said. “But I also wanted to meet my new teammates and help the coaches any way I could. It was cold, but I didn’t mind. Being around the track is always my favorite part of the day.”

One of these teammates was junior and fellow pentathloner Kate Woods.

“Abbi is like my track mom and anytime I had low self-confidence, she was always the first person by my side and cheering me up even when she was not able to compete,” Woods said.  “I genuinely don’t know if I would have been able to accomplish everything I accomplished this year without Abbi. She meant so much to the whole track team because she always found the positives in all of us. Everyone loves and looks up to Abbi so much.”

Woods was named to the all-county pentathlon team along with Sasson and still has two more years as a Lady Patriot. Sasson will be pre-med at Vassar College in the fall and will be competing as a member of the Vassar Women’s Track and Field team.

But she’ll not soon forget her former Lady Pat teammates and coaches, who have helped shape her into the athlete and person she is today.

“Track, and being a member of this team, is definitely the part of high school that I will miss the most,” she said. “The friends I’ve made on this team are life-long friends and when I’m on break from Vassar, I hope they let me come back to pop in and say hello.” 

With all that Sasson has accomplished and contributed to the Ward Melville community, it’s a safe bet that they will.

By Bill Landon

The Port Jefferson Steeplefest invitational took place on Saturday, April 9, at the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, attracting schools from all over Suffolk County. 

Mt. Sinai senior Kate Del Gandio won the girls 100-meter hurdle event with a time of 14.68. Senior Hugo Onghai placed first for Port Jeff in the boys 100-meter hurdles, clocking in at 16.36. In the 2000-meter steeplechase Frosh finals, Shoreham-Wading River’s Anna Minetti finished first with a time of 8:20.82. In the Frosh boys Steeplechase, Patrick Shea of Shoreham-Wading River clocked in at 7:07.36. Del Gandio also placed first in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.56. Mt. Sinai senior Kyra Franks took the top spot in the 200-meter dash event, besting the field with a 26.09. Port Jeff senior Annie Maier took top honors in the long jump event by traveling 15-11.50. Mt. Sinai’s Kelly Hughes and Casey Campo placed second and third respectively. Julia Sue-Kim-Ling of Smithtown East proved she was the class of the field in the triple jump when she leapt 34-5.25. Kings Park senior Emily Stritzl also placed first in the pole-vault event, clearing 8-0.

 Photos by Bill Landon 

Members of the men's track & field team compete during last Saturday's meet. Photo courtesy of Stony Brook Athletics

The Stony Brook University men’s track & field team got the 2022 Indoor season started at the Fordham Alumni Meet on Jan. 8 in the Bronx. The Seawolves got the season off to a strong start with five total wins in their season opener. 

Photo from Stony Brook Athletics

Aiden Smyth earned a win in the mile as he clocked a time of 4:16.03 to lead the way for the Seawolves. Smyth later joined the DMR team and helped the Seawolves to a win in that event with a time of 10:34.03. On the field, Darnell Paul recorded a win for the Seawolves in the shot put as he tallied a mark of 13.10m.

Timothy Weber won the 1000 meter run for the Seawolves as he crossed the finish line with a winning time of 2:32.32. Aiden Smyth picked up a win for Stony Brook in the mile run with a final time of 4:16.03. Conor Malanaphy finished right behind Smyth in second-place as he clocked a time of 4:18.44.

Darnell Paul took first-place in the shot put with a mark of 13.10m. Paul then recorded a mark of 12.45m in the weight throw. Michael Fama won the 3000 meter run as he crossed the finish line in 9:05.59.

The Stony Brook DMR team comprised of Malanaphy, Nicolas Lavazoli, Weber, and Smyth picked up the win as they combined for a time of 10:34.03. 

Anthony Urbancik earned a second-place finish in the 60 meter dash with a final time of 7.24. Urbancik later took second in the 200 meter dash as he clocked a time of 24.42.

The Stony Brook University women’s track & field team also got the season off to a strong start as they compiled five first-place finishes with Jada Hodge and Grace Weigele leading the way. Hodge picked up a win in the 60 meter dash, while Weigele won the 1000 meter run and helped Stony Brook’s DMR team to a first-place finish. Nicole Garcia earned a win in the mile and then joined Weigele to guide the Seawolves to a win in the DMR. 

Jada Hodge got the Seawolves off to a quick start in the 60 meter dash as she took first-place with a final time of 7.98. Nadja Ashley followed behind in second-place as she crossed the finish line in 8.13.

Grace Weigele earned a first-place finish in the 1000 meter run as she clocked a winning time of 3:07.85. Tara Hauff finished right behind Weigele in second-place with a time of 3:09.82. Nicole Garcia put together a standout performance in the mile run as she won the race with a time of 5:19.16. Merrick Hemond won the 3000 meter run with a first-place time of 11:22.70.

The Seawolves’ DMR team comprised of Weigele, Enyero Omokeni, Hauff, and Garcia tallied a first-place finish as they clocked a combine time of 12:51.45. Marina Magoulas recorded a mark of 9.44m in the shot put and then tallied a mark of 14.60m in the weight throw for a second-place finish.

“Today was all about taking another step towards normalcy. It felt good to be competing in an indoor meet for the first time in two years. Overall, we had some nice performances, notably, Nicole Garcia and Aiden Smyth who on top of winning their mile races, both anchored the DMR relays to wins. Other athletes that got their indoor season of to a winning start were Jada Hodge, Darnell Paul, and Grace Weigele,” said track and field head coach Andrew Ronan. 

“But now we need to focus on building towards the championship part of our season at the end of February. Each meet we compete in from this point on is going to get more competitive so we need to work on getting better individually and as a team every week,” he said.

The Seawolves are back in action on Saturday, January 15, when they compete in the Penn Invitational at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.

by -
0 1075

After an abbreviated winter track and field season earlier this year, Huntington’s girls track team showed no signs of slowing down in a crossover invitational meet at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood Dec. 19.

Olivia Conte won the 55-meter hurdles at 9.17 seconds. Hope Bilkey finished second in the 55-meter dash at 7.95 seconds with Brianna Halbeisen placing sixth. Jannel Maroquin clocked in at 3:45.94 at 1000-meters good enough for fifth place. It was a Huntington one-two finish at the 300 meter distance with Bilkey and Conte with at 45.87 and 46.12 seconds. respectively.

The Blue Devils are back on track again at SCCC in the Jim Howard invitational Jan. 5. Start time is 5 p.m.

It was the best of the best competing in the Long Island Elite Meet at St. Anthony’s High School Saturday, Feb. 29.

Ward Melville senior Megan Wood shined in the final event before states. Wood tossed a pair of throws 43 feet, 6 inches along with 42’11” good enough for third in the weight throw event but was the class of the field in the shot put throwing 42’3” and a pair of 41’4” for the top spot in the event against competitors from all over Long Island.

Wood has her sights set for her next competition at the New York State Championships at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island.

“The next step is to show up to states and be a competitor next Saturday,” Wood said. “I’ll try to get in some higher reps in the beginning of the week but then we’ll tone it down so I’m well rested for the day”.

Teammate Allison D’Angio, a senior, clocked at 9.44 in the 55-meter hurdle event, and sophomore Arianna Gilbride placed fourth in the 300 dash in the Frosh/Soph event with 43.70.

Kings Park senior Richard Mangogna cleared 13 feet 3 inches in the pole vault event, placing him seventh overall in the Long Island Elite Meet at St. Anthony’s High School Feb. 29.

Teammate Sam Estherson, a junior, competed in the 55m hurdle event with a time of 8.17 seconds and clocked in at 8.98 at the 60m distance.





Rocky Point senior Jimmy Curley (l) runs 3200 meters along with Comsewogue’s Joe Fazio and Kings Park’s Jonathan Englehardt at SCCC Feb. 1. Bill Landon photo

The Mount Sinai Mustangs were the class of the field in the Suffolk County small school championship Feb. 1, sitting atop the leader-board to win the team championship with 66 points at Suffolk County Community College.

Kings Park finished 7th overall just ahead of Comsewogue High School. Shoreham-Wading River junior Blake Wehr placed 2nd in the high jump event clearing 6’ 4” landing the Wildcats 12th in the team standings.

by -
0 1195


Kings Park track and field standouts competed in the Last Chance Meet Invitational at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus Jan. 25.

It was the final meet before the County Championship Feb. 1. Senior Luke Neilson placed first at 3,200m, setting a new school record for Kings Park clocking in at 9 minutes, 56.43 seconds, 14 seconds clear of second place.

Richard Mangogna, also a Kings Park senior, ran the shorter events where he captured the indoor pole vault record clearing 13 feet Dec. 14 at the Armory Track & Field facility in Manhattan. Mangogna is the No. 3 pole vaulter in Suffolk County and has qualified for the State Pole Vault Qualifier Championships at Mount Sinai High School Feb. 6.


D. Bruce Lockerbie and his wife, Lory, pose for an Easter Sunday photo. Photo above from D. Bruce Lockerbie

A familiar face in the Three Village area is receiving a special honor from his college alma mater.

On May 4, East Setauket’s D. Bruce Lockerbie will be inducted into the New York University Department of Athletics, Intramurals and Recreation Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a member of its men’s cross country and track and field teams, during a reception at NYU’s Kimmel Center. Lockerbie majored in English and religion at NYU and graduated in 1956.

Bruce Lockerbie during his days on the New York University track and field and cross country teams. Photo from New York University

“Bruce Lockerbie’s accomplishments as a member of the NYU cross country and track teams have stood the test of time and rank him among the greats to ever don the NYU violet,” said Christopher Bledsoe, NYU assistant vice president for student affairs and director of athletics. “We celebrate Dr. Lockerbie’s achievements and look forward to a special afternoon in May.”

Lockerbie, 83, said he was surprised and humbled when he heard about the induction, especially since the university counts numerous world record holders in track and field.

“I thought it was an April Fools joke in September,” he said, adding he had good teammates with him during his stint in track and field.

Among his college successes were his team being named the Penn Relays Distance Medley Relay and Spring Medley Relay champions and winning the bronze medal at an NCAA cross country event, both in 1955. He was also the Canadian Indoor Track and Field 1,000 yards champion in 1956 and missed qualifying for Canada’s Olympic team the same year due to illness on the day of the trials.

Lockerbie was born in Canada and moved to the U.S. as a junior in high school when his father accepted a position as pastor at Bay Ridge Baptist Church in Brooklyn. He soon found himself running for Fort Hamilton High School’s team.

“This is a key time in my life,” he said.

Lockerbie said he almost didn’t attend NYU after high school. The son of Depression-era parents who dropped out of school to work, the former runner said he had no college expectations and didn’t apply to any schools. It was his high school coach who gave him advice at a New York City championship race that changed his life.

“He said, ‘Run the race of your life kid, and maybe God has a surprise for you,’” Lockerbie said.

It was apparent that the surprise was in store, as an NYU coach discovered him, and he received a four-year scholarship.

“It absolutely changed and shaped my life,” he said.

Lockerbie said he doesn’t believe he would have attended college if it wasn’t for that fateful day. After graduation, he would go on to teach and coach at Wheaton College in Illinois and then at The Stony Brook School for 34 years. He was recruited by the headmaster at the time, Frank E. Gaebelein, who had the same coach as him at NYU.

Jane Taylor, former assistant head of The Stony Brook School, who has known Lockerbie since 1973, described the ex-track star as an Energizer bunny. Through the years, she said, he took on many administration roles at the school including chair of the English department, dean of faculty and being involved in various committees.

“He said, ‘Run the race of your life kid, and maybe God has a surprise for you.'”

— D. Bruce Lockerbie

As head of the international consulting team Paideia, Inc. since 1991, she said Lockerbie is well-respected for his educational consultations and workshops she described as thought-provoking.

Taylor added she also remembered him as the kind of coach who actively engaged and ran with his students, and he would carefully look at the running times he felt each student was capable of running.

“His athletes rose to the occasion,” she said.

As for running, it’s something Lockerbie had to give up after a heart attack in 1982, he said, when his doctor told him he would miss his son’s wedding that was scheduled a few days after but would be around for his grandchildren’s.

Despite the setback, Lockerbie said he kept his competitive edge and took up golfing, even winning a car in the past for getting a hole-in-one.

“I just had to replace it,” he said. “Chinese checkers wouldn’t have been as challenging.”

Lockerbie and his wife Lory, who have been married since 1956, have lived in the Three Village area for 62 years where they raised three children. In addition to his successes in track and field and cross country, Lockerbie is the author, co-author and editor of 40 books, and he and his wife are active parishioners in the Caroline Church of Brookhaven.

When it comes to the May 4 induction ceremony at NYU’s Kimmel Center, Lockerbie said he is looking forward to it, and he is still grateful for his time at the university.

“It’s a case of a university having expressed its faith in me, when I was utterly a nobody, and giving me the opportunity to affect other people’s lives all these years in the profession of education,” he said. “The appropriate sentiment is humbling, and I’m grateful.”

Wei during a long jump at a recent meet. Photo from Eric Giorlando

By Karina Gerry

For the second time this season, Mount Sinai senior Kenneth Wei knows what it’s like to be No. 1 in the country for the long jump.

The Mount Sinai senior jumped 25 feet, the current record in the nation for this year, Feb. 3, at the Section XI Small School County Championship at the Suffolk County Community College campus in Brentwood. Earlier in the season, Wei held the long jump record with 24 feet when he competed at the Molloy Stanner Games at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City.

“It was really adrenaline pumping,” Wei said about the experience of competing at such a
level. “Your heart’s racing, it’s really exciting.”

Wei leaps the hurdles at a recent meet. Photo from Eric Giorlando

Eric Giorlando, the Mustangs head track & field coach, proudly pointed out Wei’s other accomplishments at the recent meet, including beating the No. 2 athlete in the country during the 55-meter hurdles head to head and was named Male Athlete of the Meet. 

“It’s an experience that you hope to obtain sometime in your career,” Giorlando said. “It was a pretty big day overall, not just achieving the No. 1 spot in the long jump but to have that meet, in general, it was a pretty powerful moment.”

Giorlando, who has been coaching at Mount Sinai since 2002, has been working side by side with Wei since the beginning.

“Kenny has always done everything that we’ve asked him to do,” Giorlando said. “He probably runs more than the traditional long jumper or triple jumper — he’s kind of been easy to coach and understanding of my philosophy of how to get him to that point.”

Wei has been competing at the varsity level since eighth grade when an assistant coach saw him jump for a basketball in gym class. The long jumper got serious about winning titles last year where he started hitting the weight room. Last season Wei began to see the effects of his hard work with his multiple titles, but despite all the success this year, Giorlando doesn’t think the soon-to-graduate senior has come close to reaching his potential.

“I think he has a lot of room to go,” Giorlando said. “It’s about being patient and understanding that it’s a long road ahead of us — we’re not looking for county titles or state titles at this point, we’re looking for a national title.”

Wei’s goal is to place at Nationals in March where he hopes to compete in two events: the 55-meter hurdles and long jump. Despite the pressure of being a nationally recognized athlete, the nerves don’t really get to him anymore.

“Your heart’s racing, it’s really exciting.”

— Kenneth Wei

“Especially since last year I feel like the nerves have kind of calmed down a little bit, and I just really try to enjoy the run, enjoy the meet and enjoy the atmosphere,” Wei said. 

His coach can’t think of a time that he has ever seen Wei frazzled, even under the most immense pressure.

“Always laser focused,” Giorlando said. “Always knows what needs to be done, and I’d say about 99 percent of the time he is able to achieve those things.”

Wei, who is headed to MIT in the fall, plans on competing for their track & field team because of his passion for the sport.

“My big thing is to encourage people to pursue their passions,” the star athlete said. “And this is one of mine. It’s a big part of my life now, and running with the team competing is a lot of fun, and I hope to keep doing it.”

The 4x400 relay team of Maritza Blanchard, Jess Faustin, Lexie Roth and Dana Cerbone took home multiple medals a the state track and field meet. Photo from Middle Country school district

By Desirée Keegan

Middle Country’s seniors have shown the strength, determination and dedication to achieve greatness, and now they have the success to prove it was all worth it.

After undergoing six brain surgeries and having a shunt put into her skull to help her manage an incurable disease, Lexi Roth hit the ground running. She helped Middle Country’s 4×400-meter relay team cross the finish line a fraction of a second behind first at the Division I state championships last weekend. The girls clocked in second among Division I schools in 3 minutes, 52.92 seconds. Rush-Henrietta Senior High School finished in 3:52.52.

Maritza Blanchard, above with Bay Shore’s Nia Singer, finished third among all schools in the 400 dash. Photo from Middle Country school district

The quartet, which also includes seniors Dana Cerbone and Maritza Blanchard and sophomore Jessica Faustin, placed fourth among all schools during the June 8 and 9 meet at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

“That group especially had an immense amount of talent and the work ethic that goes along with that, so I’m not surprised they got where they got to,” said former coach Matt Torres, who worked with the seniors their first two years. “Jessica, being the young one, works incredibly hard. She has some great leaders in front of her.”

Cerbone is about five feet tall, but Torres said you wouldn’t know it. She placed fourth among Division I athletes in the 200 dash (24.94) and fourth overall (25.33).

“Girls tower over her, but she has a bulldog-type mentality,” he said. “It wasn’t just practice, it was after practice that she would want to do more to see if she could get even just a little bit better. She’d push to have that edge, get in the weight room.”

He said none of the athletes would stop between seasons. They showed a desire to remain in shape and continue to try to take their talents to the next level.

“Maritza was always on the brink of being great, and I think coach Cuzzo really helped push her toward that,” he said.

Blanchard also brought home an additional medal with a third-place overall finish in the 400 dash. She crossed the finish line in 56.78. She ranked fifth among Division I schools (57.39) and bounced back to have a better showing in day two.

“Everything is moving in the right direction,” two-year spring track and field coach Charley Cuzzo said. “I’m very proud of how the kids ran. What they’ve been able to do is quite an accomplishment. They were ready to go, and they proved it.”

The quartet came out of nowhere and shot right up to the top. The girls were ranked No. 1 in the state prior to the meet. Cuzzo said they’ve made improvements that are impressive, and ones that the seniors will take with them to the collegiate level.

“They haven’t gotten there by accident,” Torres said. “They got there by how hard they work.