Tags Posts tagged with "Track"


Harborfields' Jake Miller and Alex Martin makes their way around the track. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Rocky Point and Harborfields each looked to notch their first victory of the season Tuesday, but the Tornadoes’ boys’ track and field team blew past the Eagles on their home track, to win the League V meet, 103-38.

Harborfields' Randy Maldon leaps into the sand pit. Photo by Bill Landon
Harborfields’ Randy Maldon leaps into the sand pit. Photo by Bill Landon

Harborfields long jump standout Randy Maldon, a senior, was the talk of the event, taking first with a jump of 18-9 3/4, to come up well ahead of the second place finisher.

Maldon, who has competed in the event since his sophomore year, also runs winter track, and said the windy conditions affected his performance despite the positive turnout.

“The wind definitely throws off my steps — it’s pushing me back so I have to push harder, and it affects me in the air,” he said. “Going down the runway, I drifted to the left a little bit.”

The Tornadoes flexed their muscles early, dominating, the 1,600-meter to take the top five spots. First across the line for Harborfields was sophomore James DeSantis, who won the event in 4 minutes, 59:06 seconds. Harborfields senior Jake Miller won the 3,000 in 11:28.2, finishing just ahead of teammate Alexander Martin, a junior, as both runners traded the lead several times.

“It was windy, but I ran with my teammate Alex alternating laps and we would take turns blocking the wind,” Miller said. “We needed to see who had a little bit left with 800 meters left.”

Rocky Point’s Chris Valleau, a three-year varsity competitor, competed in the 200 and 400 dashes, and said he felt he underperformed.

“I can run better than I did today,” the junior said, adding that it had nothing to do with the windy conditions.

Rocky Point senior Kevin LaRosa, who competed in the 100 and 200, finished the races in 13 seconds and 28 seconds, respectively.

“I thought we underperformed as a team today — we certainly could’ve done better,” LaRosa said. “The conditions really didn’t affect me today in the shorter races, but it does in the longer distances.”

Cameron Cutler leaps over the hurdles for Rocky Point. Photo by Bill Landon
Cameron Cutler leaps over the hurdles for Rocky Point. Photo by Bill Landon

Alex DeMottie, a senior who competed in the high jump, 800 and 4×800 relay, echoed LaRosa’s and Valleau’s assessment that there was room for improvement.

“It wasn’t my best performance,” DeMottie said. “I’ve got to work harder to improve my times.”

Rocky Point head coach Chris Donadoni said in the end, his Eagles just faced a better team.

“I was pleased with our shotput and discus events today, although we didn’t get to see those because those events are held on the lower field,” the head coach said, adding that his assistant coach said each kid threw their best in both events. “It’s a growing process with this team. They’re real young and inexperienced, so each meet is an opportunity for all of them to learn something. We’ll look at each of their performances, but more importantly, how they prepare mentally for each event. They’ve made progress in their preparation since the start of the season.”

With the win, Harborfields improves to 1-2 as the Eagles fall to 0-3.

Rocky Point travels to Westhampton Beach on April 30 for an 8:30 a.m. meet.

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The Gentlemen’s Driving Park is currently overgrown and hidden, but will soon be restored. Photo by Elana Glowatz

By Elana Glowatz

Officials are on track to restore a piece of Long Island history, bringing an abandoned and forgotten horse-racing site back to life.

The Cumsewogue Historical Society has a ticket to the Gentlemen’s Driving Park from July 4, 1892. Photo by Elana Glowatz
The Cumsewogue Historical Society has a ticket to the Gentlemen’s Driving Park from July 4, 1892. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Brookhaven Town finished purchasing a swath of wooded land off of Canal Road in Terryville at the end of 2013, after Cumsewogue Historical Society President Jack Smith discovered the faint outline of the horse track and dug up information about what was once called the Gentlemen’s Driving Park. The town now owns the entire 11-acre site.

Today it’s an overgrown path hidden among trees, but the Gentlemen’s Driving Park used to be a place where Victorian Era bettors watched men race around the half-mile loop — counterclockwise — behind horses in carts called sulkies. It was part of a circuit of harness racing tracks in the Northeast, according to Smith, but likely fell into neglect with the rise of the automobile.

But cars have also helped keep the track viable: Smith previously reported that at least through the mid-1950s, kids raced jalopies around the track, preventing it from becoming completely overgrown.

Smith said on Monday the effort to restore and preserve the track is moving slowly, but there has been progress since the town finished acquiring the property. There are plans in place to clear the track to about 20 feet wide, although leaving larger trees in place, and to move up the southern curve of the oval, he said.

Jack Smith takes a closer look at a wrecked car on the Gentlemen's Driving Park track around the time he first discovered the forgotten historical spot. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Jack Smith takes a closer look at a wrecked car on the Gentlemen’s Driving Park track around the time he first discovered the forgotten historical spot. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Currently, a small PSEG Long Island facility cuts into that southern tip. Rather than moving the facility or leaving the track incomplete, the town would retrace that small section of track, slightly shortening the loop but completing the oval so as to make a walkable path for visitors.

“The town is in the process of working on the track to restore the track as closely to the original footprint as possible,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said in a statement this week. “There will be some adjustments needed and the town is actively working on that.”

If all goes according to plan, the councilwoman said, the restored track could open late in the summer or early in the fall.

“The important thing is that it will be an oval,” Smith said Monday. “We want to keep some of the historical integrity.”

His goal is to put informational signs around the track that will teach people about its history.

The Gentlemen’s Driving Park is currently overgrown and hidden, but will soon be restored. Photo by Elana Glowatz
The Gentlemen’s Driving Park is currently overgrown and hidden, but will soon be restored. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The driving park was adjacent to well-known horse trainer Robert L. Davis’ Comsewogue stables, now the Davis Professional Park. After hearing rumors of such a track in Terryville, Smith discovered it by looking at an aerial image of the neighborhood taken during the winter, when the foliage was less dense. He saw the faint shape in the woods near Canal Road and went walking in to find it. Since that visit, he has uncovered a broken pair of Victorian-era field glasses near the finish line on the track’s west side, which may have been dropped and trampled. He also has a ticket from a racing event on July 4. 1892.

Once restoration work is completed, Cartright said the town hopes to work with the historical society and the community “to hold a kickoff event to highlight the track and its history.”

For his part, the historical society president has said he would like to hold a fair in which people will re-enact the late 1800s horse races with vintage sulkies or participate in a carriage parade.

“We can’t be happier that it’s been preserved,” Smith said.

Huntington’s 4x400 relay state championship team of Kyree Johnson, Lawrence Leake, Infinite Tucker and Exzayvian Crowell continue to reach new heights. Photo by Darin Reed

Huntington boys’ track and field head coach Ron Wilson had an idea that he could have a strong team for the 2015-16 winter season, but the success they’ve enjoyed was beyond even his expectations.

“We knew that we had quite a few kids returning this season, which would put us at the forefront in Suffolk County,” Wilson said. “We didn’t know that we would be one of the top teams in the state of New York.”

That’s exactly what the Blue Devils were this winter: one of the most electrifying track and field squads in the state. The team is led by their “Fantastic Four,” the nickname given to Huntington’s state champion 4×400-meter relay team from last winter. All four members returned this year. Infinite Tucker, Kyree Johnson, Lawrence Leake and Exzayvian Crowell captured numerous state, county, league and Long Island accolades as a team and individually last year, and this year hasn’t been much different.

The team took the gold in the 4×400 relay at the Suffolk County Championships on Jan. 31 at the Suffolk County Community College campus in Brentwood. They also qualified for Nationals, which will take place on March 11 in New York City. Huntington’s 4×200 relay team also qualified, as did Tucker and Johnson in numerous individual events.

Wilson said it hit him how special this team was at a meet on Jan. 16 at the Molloy Stanner Games at the New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory in Manhattan.

“We were grooving,” Wilson said with a hearty laugh. On that Saturday in Manhattan, Tucker ran the best time in the country for the winter season in the 600 dash, and Johnson set the mark nationally for the 300 dash, while Leake posted the fourth-best time of the year in the 300. The times were announced to a standing ovation, according to Wilson.

Wilson said one of the biggest surprises of the season was Leake’s performance.

“My time in the 300, I was very proud of,” Leake said.

Johnson indicated that he could tell fairly early on how special the Blue Devils might be.

“Around the first couple of meets, everybody started to show how good they are and the ability they had,” Johnson said.

Johnson credited advice from his older brother Tyreke, who also ran track at Huntington, as being helpful in keeping his competitive edge, despite enormous success.

“The number one thing is to remain humble and don’t look at anybody like they’re not as good as you,” Johnson said. “I have to work my hardest.”

Wilson has been a part of some special teams at Huntington in his nine years leading the high school squad. He coached in the district on the junior high level from 1998 to 2007, when he became an assistant for the high school team under Dennis Walker. Wilson was also a member of the team in 1993 and 1994, when he attended Huntington.

“I didn’t run; I was a thrower,” Wilson said. “I was too big to run.”

The head coach didn’t hesitate for a second when trying to compare this Blue Devils’ team to the numerous versions that he’d had a hand in previously.

“This is by far the best team that I’ve coached,” he said.

Assistant coach Eli Acosta, who said this is his 49th year in the Long Island track and field world, reiterated Wilson’s assessment of the team.

“I can say that this is the best track and field that I’ve ever coached in terms of talent,” Acosta said. “We have very talented athletes, that goes without saying. They also work quite hard.”

Wilson said his team is focused and driven, without being too uptight.

“It’s a well-rounded team,” he said. “They’re nice boys. They can be silly at times, but once they get on the track, it’s always business.”

Tucker and Johnson are undoubtedly the team’s most talented members, though the role of leadership is a shared duty among the entire roster, according to Wilson.

“It’s kind of fun,” Tucker said of his relationship with Johnson. “It’s like running with your brother.”

Acosta admitted that he and Wilson pit Johnson and Tucker against each other in certain events and in practice as a tactic to motivate the star athletes.

“They pick each other up,” Wilson said. “It’s more of the team that leads us, that drives our success, especially amongst our relay team.”

Despite their success, Wilson said he hasn’t seen any lull in the team’s drive or motivation.

“When these kids are able to stay humble and stay low, they’re always able to seek improvement,” Wilson said. “If the competition is not there, you have to compete against yourself.”

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Sean Ferguson crosses the finish line of the NEC Cross Country Championship. Photo by Bernadette Boyle

By Mary DeMaio

It’s a crisp Friday afternoon in mid-autumn at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. The clock reads 4 p.m. The weekend has finally arrived; an opportunity to take it easy. The cross-country team is off from practice, but the faint whispers of heavy breathing can still be heard from the track. The shadow of only one athlete is present.

Even on his off days, 21-year-old senior Sean Ferguson can be found going that extra mile.

It’s that work ethic which has enabled him to come back from what doctors labeled a career-ending injury two years ago, to becoming one of the top Division 1 runners in the nation this year.

At the end of his winter-season sophomore year, the Smithtown native ran at a championship conference meet and suffered detrimental complications to his heel. He had to stop running altogether and was sidelined for a year, causing him to miss one cross-country and two track seasons.

During his layoff, he visited four doctors, some of whom predicted he would never be able to run again. But Ferguson refused to give up. Finally, in October 2014, after receiving seven injections in his hobbled foot and getting lots of rest, the pain started to subside and he began rehabbing.

Sean Ferguson smiles for his Sacred Heart University head shot. Photo by Bernadette Boyle
Sean Ferguson smiles for his Sacred Heart University head shot. Photo by Bernadette Boyle

He spent a year working with athletic trainers, strengthening the muscles in his heel through rigid resistance exercises every day before he was able to start running competitively again.

“Finding the motivation to keep working despite not knowing if I would ever be able to return again was extremely difficult,” Ferguson said.

But thanks to his mental fortitude, Ferguson overcame his injury and is now better than ever. Most recently, on Oct. 31, Ferguson won the Northeast Conference championship 8,000-meter race, beating out 70 runners.

“Sean is determined, focused and is so humble,” said teammate Trevor Guerrera. “He has broken multiple meet records and still is the most down-to-earth person I know.”

Christian Morrison, Ferguson’s cross-country coach at Sacred Heart said, “Sean has progressed tremendously because he is single-minded about being the best runner he can possibly be, and he’s coachable and easy to work with. He’s tough and isn’t afraid to suffer and push himself during a race to run as fast as possible.”

When Ferguson steps on the line, he said he has four goals: to race well, to run fast, to be competitive and, most importantly, to have fun.

“I just really try to take in the moment and enjoy what I’m doing while I’m still able to do it,” he said.

Ferguson said his mental approach is what gives him an edge on other runners. Fixating on time tends to trip up many runners, he said. They are, what he calls, “slaves to the watch.” Ferguson, however, said he pays more attention to how his body is feeling and focusing on putting his best effort forward.

“Running is mostly a mental sport, you can train as well as anyone but if you don’t truly believe you are the best, you won’t be,” said David Wood, Ferguson’s cross-country coach at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip. “By senior year, Sean believed he could run with anyone even if in reality he couldn’t.”

What Ferguson has long believed has finally become reality.

At the start of his season on Sept. 5, he defeated 60 runners at the Stony Brook University Invitational en route to a first-place finish. He also set his school’s record for the 6K with a time of 18 minutes, 35 seconds; the previous school record was 18:52. It was the fastest that anyone has ever run on that course.

A week later, at the Rhode Island Invitational, he came in first place out of 100 runners, crushing his school’s 5K record, setting a course record and beating every runner on Providence College, highly ranked in the country. Ferguson finished the race in 14:50; the previous school record was 15:28.

Sean Ferguson rounds a corner. Photo by Bernadette Boyle
Sean Ferguson rounds a corner. Photo by Bernadette Boyle

The wins and records kept piling up. All together during this year’s cross-country season, Ferguson ran six races, won five of them and set four course records. At the New England championship in Boston he was injured during the middle of the race, but he pulled himself together and just focused on finishing, coming in 23rd place.

Unfortunately, Ferguson was not able to run in the trial race to qualify for the National Championships in Louisville, Ky., because he hurt his calf at practice.

But there’s always next season.

Although slated to graduate this May from Sacred Heart, where he’s studying history and maintains a 3.87 GPA during his first six semesters, finishing with a 4.0 in three of them, Ferguson has one year of college athletic eligibility remaining. Due to his heel injury, Ferguson received a medical waiver from the NCAA that allows him to compete if he chooses to enroll in graduate school. His decision to stay at Sacred Heart or go elsewhere is still up in the air.

For now, he’s focused on training for winter track when the season begins Saturday. He’s expected to be a top competitor in both the 3K and 5K races.

“I have high expectations for myself because I got hurt,” said Ferguson. “The cross-country season didn’t end the way I had hoped and that is something I want to rectify.”

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Huntington’s 4x400 relay state championship team. Photo from Huntington athletics

Head coach Ron Wilson knows he has a good squad, but is it good enough to successfully defend the Suffolk Division II title that the Blue Devil boys’ winter track and field team captured last year?

The winter campaign is now underway and knowing that Huntington has one of the top indoor track teams on Long Island brings a smile to the face of the veteran coach.

The Blue Devils feature returning 4×400-meter relay state champions Infinite Tucker, Exzayvian Crowell, Kyree Johnson and Lawrence Leake. The Fantastic Four also won league, county, Long Island and LI Millrose Games titles.

Huntington boasts a roster that has talent and depth in just about every event this winter.

“Our strength in terms of quality and balance, however, lies in that of our sprinters and jumpers,” Wilson said. Juniors Johnson and Leake are two of Suffolk’s best sprinters.

Newcomer Kei Ron Byrams is expected to make an immediate splash with his speed and athleticism. “He should definitely help,” Wilson said of the junior.

“We graduated a great cast of throwers last year in Matteo McNeil and Jimmie Nelson,” Wilson said. “But we have a few throwers that will definitely draw some attention this year. Seniors Michael Lonergan, Amaru Jones, Vernon Alexander and Tasean Betts earned All-League honors during the spring season and should really be competitive this year.”

Sophomore strongmen Clay Jamison and Sam Bergman are two more throwers expected to be competitive this winter. Bergman was runner-up in the Suffolk freshmen shot put championship.

“Our distance program has shown a steady improvement,” Wilson said. Seniors Kyle O’Brien and Tom Kopstein earned All-League honors last spring and should be a factor this year. Joining the distance crew during the indoor season is junior Shane McGuire, who exploded on the scene last spring with a string of sensational performances, including All-League, All-County and All-State honors.

“He just finished an exciting cross country season and should do well this winter,” Wilson said.

Senior Mitch Rudish and junior Mark Rafuse were alternates on last winter’s 4×400 relay team and are set to take a big step forward this season.

The roster includes a bunch of newcomers to the sport and the school.

“With a bit of luck and good health, we should do well,” Wilson said. “We are a fairly balanced team this year, with a pretty solid lineup.”

Seniors Tucker and Crowell will contend in the 55 hurdles, among other events. Joining them will be sophomores Brian Pierre and Luke Eidle. Pierre won the freshman class of the 400 intermediate hurdles and took second place in the 110 high hurdles last spring. Sophomores Nick Sanin and Will Vollack were competitive last winter and should improve this year.

“We will look to advance several of our athletes to the state championship this year,” Wilson said.

Huntington has won two consecutive league titles, but this year’s competition is expected to be especially fierce.

“This year the pressure will be on,” Wilson said. “It’s always difficult to defend your championship title. There are a number of great teams in our league, including Smithtown East, North Babylon, West Islip, Half Hollow Hills West, West Babylon, Deer Park, Bellport, Eastport-South Manor and East Islip. These teams boast some outstanding athletes.”

The Blue Devil have carved out a national reputation during recent winter and spring seasons.

“Our top returning athletes are determined to compete at a high level and those who are joining us this season for the first time will look to make a name for themselves as well,” Wilson said.

Huntington is again set to travel to some of the most prestigious high school meets in the country this winter, including the Dartmouth Relays in New Hampshire, the Rhode Island Classic and to the new facility on Staten Island for a showdown with some of the best athletes from New York City and New Jersey.

“We know and understand that our road to a championship is going to be a difficult one,” Wilson said. “However, our boys have never backed down to a challenge.”

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Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s varsity cross country team took third place in the Peter Pan Division at the Disney Cross-Country Classic. Photo from the Port Jefferson school district

The Port Jefferson cross country team had a great run at the Disney Cross Country Classic, held on Oct. 9 in Disney World.

During the competition, Port Jefferson’s Justin Julich took first place overall in the Peter Pan Division, a varsity boys 5K race that featured 187 national runners. Julich, a senior, finished with a time of 16 minutes, 24.60 seconds.

Julich’s win, along with teammate Sam Walker placing third and Alex Rebec placing in the top 25, put the Port Jefferson team in third place in the Peter Pan Division.

“This team truly achieved greatness,” Port Jefferson’s athletic director Debra Ferry said. “We are very proud of them.”

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The Middle Country girls’ cross country team poses for a group photo at Sunken Meadow State Park. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Middle Country girls’ cross country squad were handed the victory by forfeit, as they took on Commack Tuesday afternoon at Sunken Meadow State Park. Both teams were released together as the pack disappeared over the wooden footbridge for the 2.7-mile event, but Commack ran the wrong course, leaving the Mad Dogs the victors by a score of 50-15.

It was a multischool meet with schools from all over Suffolk County pairing off in front of a large crowd of onlookers.

Camila McCusker runs for Middle Country. Photo by Bill Landon
Camila McCusker runs for Middle Country. Photo by Bill Landon

Middle Country head coach Bill King said both teams were evenly matched and knew the meet would be determined by a couple of points. Nearly 20 minutes after the start of the race, the best runners of the day turned the corner and headed down the home stretch. The only problem was, it was only Commack crossing the finish line, without a Middle Country runner in sight.

King said he couldn’t understand the disparity, and Middle Country senior Olivia Rogers said the Commack runners didn’t complete the same course that her team ran.

“The times are a little messed up because Commack ran a different course than we did,” the co-captain said. “We ran a different distance than they did —  they took a shortcut, so I don’t know if there’s even going to be a score.”

It turns out that King’s suspicion was right, and after a lengthy postrace investigation, the Commack runners were found to have turned off the official race route and ran a shorter distance. The Commack head coach admitted his team’s mistake and handed the victory to Middle Country.

“It should’ve been a very close meet, but I knew something was wrong when I saw them coming in one, two, three and four,” King said. “It should’ve been much closer, and the difference should have only been a couple of points [between us].”

But before the dust settled, the first across the finish line for Middle Country was senior Samantha Plunkett, who said she wasn’t happy with her performance because she had done better at her previous meet.

Samantha Plunkett runs for Middle Country. Photo by Bill Landon
Samantha Plunkett runs for Middle Country. Photo by Bill Landon

“I’ve run faster than I did today, so it wasn’t my best,” she said. “I ran faster two weeks ago when we versed Lindenhurst, but today, the conditions were OK.”

Crossing the line in second was sophomore Camila McCusker, who has similar feelings as Plunkett regarding her own performance.

“Today wasn’t my best — I was a couple of seconds off,” McCusker said. “It was a little hotter today than normal.”

Crossing the line for third was Rogers, followed by sophomore Kayla Juran, and finishing in the final points paying position was eighth-grader Nevaeh Kallon.

“We have a close group of girls — [myself], Camila McCusker, Kayla Juran and Samantha Plunkett,” Rogers said. “The team we versed last time was Sachem East, I think they’re the best in the county, so they pushed us really hard. We wanted to stay as close as we could with them; gain some respect.”

Middle Country competed with just nine girls, where most other teams field many more runners. King said that his team puts the emphasis on quality, not quantity.

With the win, Middle Country improves to 3-1 in League II and hits the road next for a tri-meet with Sachem North and Central Islip on Tuesday at Sunken Meadow State Park at 4 p.m.

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Miller Place Superintendent Marianne Higuera. File photo

Miller Place school district is on its way to completing the bond project voted in March of 2014.

At the board of education meeting on Aug. 26, Superintendent Marianne F. Higuera said the projects are near 80 percent complete. The total projected cost for the bond projects was approximately $7.5 million, when first presented in March of 2014.

The board held multiple public meetings throughout 2013 and 2014 for residents to voice concerns and learn more about the planned updates and repairs.

Most of the projects are specific to certain schools, with one general project that will affect every school in the district.

A district-wide phone system is currently being installed, which will replace the current system that predates 1999. The projected cost is $501,500, and the instillation is expected to be completed by November.

At Miller Place High School, tennis courts have been completely repaired, as well as repairs to the baseball and softball fields. The track is 95 percent done to being fully replaced, and additional turf fields and stadium lighting is also at 95 percent completion.

The high school qualified for state aid on approximately $3 million of field and grounds projects, according to the March 2014 board of education presentation.

Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School and Andrew Muller Primary School both had a new security vestibule constructed. Laddie Decker’s is approximately 99 percent completed and the primary school’s work is done. The primary school also had a roof replacement, which has been fully completed.

At North Country Road Middle School, there are new tennis courts. Repairs to the baseball and softball fields are basically completed, as well as an irrigation system to improve the quality of the soil. There will also be a roof replacement. The roof replacement projects are expected to cost approximately $1 million, for both Laddie Decker and North Country Middle.

Miller Place school district will be reimbursed for 72.4 percent of the costs of all projects, excluding the security vestibules at Laddie Decker and Andrew Primary, according to the board of education. This is a 15-year bond, with an average annual payment of $669,488. The projected tax increase was $1.98.

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Kristen Fraas leaps over the hurdle for Ward Melville. Photo from Fraas

Athletes use different things for motivation. Some are fueled by a desire to be the best. Some are highly competitive. Some are driven by the fear of letting down their teammates. In a sport like track and field, where the main competitor is the clock as much as the opponent, it can be difficult to maintain a competitive edge. But Kirsten Fraas never had an issue with staying intrinsically motivated during her outstanding career with the Ward Melville track and field team.

“What got me out of my bed was the fear of disappointing my coaches,” Fraas said. “I always wanted to do my best because what’s the point of me going to practice if I wasn’t going to put my whole heart into it? I also wanted to be there for my team. I didn’t want to let any of them down, either. I got myself out of bed to be the best I could be and to be consistent for my team.”

Fraas’ former and future coaches said the track and field competitor has a relentless work ethic.

“She has an amazing work ethic,” Ward Melville junior varsity head coach J.P. Dion said. “She came to practice every day ready to work and gave 100 percent every day.”

Fraas was a key member of a team that won back-to-back League 1 championships. She was highly decorated in her four-year varsity career, winning awards for being a scholar athlete and a tri-sport athlete, and she also won the Gold Key award, which is given to athletes who letter in at least eight of the nine seasons between grades 10 and 12.

“Kirsten is highly motivated and she’s a hard worker,” Stony Brook track and field assistant coach Howard Powell said of Fraas, shedding light on what made her an attractive recruit for their program. “I’m hoping that she can bring some of her strong work ethic to our team. I’m looking forward to working with her over the next couple of years.”

Fraas competed in multiple events during high school, including 100 and 400-meter hurdles, the 400 run, and the 4×4 relay. Fraas said the 4×4 was her favorite event. Powell mentioned plans to use Fraas in a variety of different events during her time at Stony Brook.

“I think that the thing I’ll miss most is my team,” Fraas said, reflecting on her time at Ward Melville. “We’re all very close knit and we’ve spent so much time together that we’ve become a family, so it’s [going to] be difficult leaving that part of my life behind.”

Dion reflected on the mark his now former runner left on the highly successful program.

She is a great kid,” he said. “Thanks to her leadership skills, she helped make our jobs as coaches easy. She is a very talented athlete and I wish her the best at Stony Brook.”

Fraas credited her family as being a strong support system.

“It means a lot to me that they’ve invested so much of their time into my success,” she said. “I honestly wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

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Young runners race around the track. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Ward Melville girls’ track and field team has found a way to raise money for its season while also providing families with young children from the district with a fun night to get out and exercise.

This is the third summer that the girls, lead by varsity coach Tom Youngs and junior varsity coach J.P. Deon, have organized races on six nights to host about 150 kids, though as many as 175 showed up on one night, from the community at the high school track.

“It [has] been really successful,” Youngs said of the three-year run of race nights, which took a hiatus last summer to allow for a new track to be put in at the high school. “We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from the community.”

Nicole Murphy, a senior on the track team, also enjoys seeing the support the team gets during race nights.

“It’s nice to see everyone get together to participate in something,” Murphy said.

A little girl crosses the finish line in a 55-meter run. Photo by Alex Petroski
A little girl crosses the finish line in a 55-meter run. Photo by Alex Petroski

“It’s a great thing for the kids,” Tracy Seedorf, a community member and a parent of one of the runners, said. “My kid doesn’t play soccer. She’s not a ‘contact sport’ girl, so this is great. This makes it easier, especially when there’s a lot of kids here. It’s more fun for them.”

The race nights feature six events of various distances, with heats in each event for age group ranges.

“It’s a good opportunity for community members and their children, keeping them active and healthy throughout the summer months when they have that time to sit on the couch or just lay on the beach,” Youngs said. “It gives them something to look forward to every Thursday night.”

At the end of each race, members of the varsity track team wait at the finish line to write down the kid’s times on stickers that are stuck to runners shirts. The kids and their parents are encouraged to track their times in the various events to see their progress over the course of the summer.

“It’s nice to tie in the community,” Deon said. He added that a great deal of parents, and even grandparents’ involvement, is as a huge part of why the event has been successful. Ages of the runners span from 2 years old up to 12 or 13.

“I think they should start at an early age,” a parent, Marty Johnson, said of the importance of getting kids active, and also allowing them to socialize with their peers. Johnson said it was easy getting his kids enthusiastic about events like these. “My kids love being outside.”

Registration costs $5 a night per child, and three more race night events remain this year, including tonight. The registration period ends at 5:30 p.m. each Thursday, and races begin at 6 p.m. All of the funds raised go to the girls’ track team to be used for meets, invitationals, overnight trips and transportation.