Carley Guida and Isabella Franz made the Southampton girls track program proud this weekend, coming up with their finest performances of the season at one of the biggest meets of the year.
At the Loucks Games in White Plains on Saturday, the senior runners each broke school records, with Guida finishing the 400-meter race in 59.89 seconds, while Franz finished the 800-meter race in 2:16. The old records were held by those same runners: Guida broke her earlier mark of 60.59, which she set as a sophomore, and Franz broke her mark of 2:19, which she had set just a week earlier in a dual meet with Hampton Bays.
The Loucks Games is one of the most prestigious high school track meets in the Northeast, drawing some of the top athletes in the state.
Southampton head coach Eddie Arnold was ecstatic with the efforts of both runners, and said that they are peaking at the right time, with the postseason looming. He gave credit to both for their hard work and dedication.
“They’re really feeding off of each other right now,” he said. “They motivated each other to be better than their best.”
Arnold called Guida the “comeback runner of the year” for what she has accomplished this season. Guida had a breakout season as a sophomore, winning the county’s Small Schools title in the 400, but she was sidelined for her entire junior season after a knee injury she suffered while playing on the Lady Mariners basketball team in the winter. Arnold said he “brought her back slowly” this year and got her back into form by putting her in a few different events. But at the Loucks Games, Guida proved she is back to top form in her signature event, where she was 21st out of 73 runners.
“When you go under 60 seconds, that’s another league of running,” Arnold explained. “It’s hard to do that in high school girls track and field.”
Guida’s time has her ranked first among all Small Schools runners in the county in the 400.
Franz, meanwhile, is also competing on another level, according to Arnold. She took three seconds off her school record-setting time in just a week, which Arnold said was not an easy feat. “Talk about peaking at the right time,” he said. “To go back-to-back with only one week of rest is impressive.”
Franz is ranked third in the county among all runners, in both large and small schools, in the 800. Her main rival in the Small Schools division is Shanna Heaney of Hampton Bays, who beat Franz last week, although Arnold said Franz’s newest time currently had her ranked above Heaney in the county.
Both Franz and Guida have an excellent chance to make it to states. Franz has already met the state qualifying standard time in the 800, so even if she does not beat Heaney at the state qualifier meet, she should still earn a spot. Guida hasn’t hit the qualifying standard in the 400 yet, but would go to states as long as she hits that mark or wins the county title at the state qualifier.
Guida and Franz weren’t the only standouts for Southampton at the Loucks Games. Both the 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relay teams had their best times of the season. The 4×100 team of Meggie Gallo, Guida, Jessa Laspesa and Paris Hodges finished in 51.64 seconds, while the 4×400 team of Gallo, Hannah Connolly-Sporing, Guida and Franz finished in 4:10.51.
Arnold gave credit to Gallo for stepping up and competing in the 4×400, as she typically only does the 4×100. He also pointed out that the 4×400-meter race was contested only about 20 minutes after the 4×100, and that he was impressed that Gallo and Guida still ran strong legs despite having just done the 4×100.
Both relay teams also have a good shot at going to states. They can do that by either winning the county’s Small Schools title at the state qualifier meet, or by hitting the state qualifying standard time in those events, a feat they can accomplish either at the upcoming division meet or at the state qualifier. The cut time in the 4×100 is 50.74, and the cut time in the 4×400 is 4:06.
Junior Erika Gulija also performed well at the Loucks Games in the pentathlon, where she is seeking her third straight trip to states. She finished 12th out of 24 competitors and saw improvement in several events. She has a personal-best mark of 4 feet 7¾ inches in the high jump, and also improved her finishes in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles. The pentathlon also includes the shot put and 800-meter race. Arnold also pointed out that Gulija didn’t have much time to warm up, as she arrived in White Plains after taking AP tests that morning and only had a few minutes to warm up.
Boys Edged By Baymen
The Southampton boys track team finished the regular season with a 1-5 record in League VII after a 78-74 loss to Hampton Bays on May 8. The meet came down to the final event, the 4×100-meter relay, which the Baymen won to take the meet. Southampton was leading by one point heading into that event.
Despite losing, the Mariners had many good performances. Eighth-grader Spencer Crough, who has emerged as one of the top 800-meter runners in the country among his age group, won that race easily, in 2:07. His teammates Sebastian Cuyjet-Hunter and Timmy Squires finished second and third, respectively.
Freshman Jesse Scanlon continued to be a versatile performer for Southampton, winning the 110-meter hurdles in 16.1 seconds, while also winning the triple jump with a leap of 37 feet 8 inches. Brian Knoebel won the long jump with a mark of 19 feet ¾ inches.
Southampton won both the 4×400-meter and 4×800-meter races, with Keaton Laub, Kevin McCabe, Andrew Gardner and Crough winning the 4×400 in 3:47, while Cuyjet-Hunter, Squires, Alejandro Rojas and Kevin McCabe finished the 4×800 in 10:32. Laub was first in the 400-meter race, in 53.9 seconds, which head coach Tony Dottin said was a very good time, although not Laub’s personal best. Southampton took first and third in the mile race, with Kevin McCabe taking first, in 4:58, and Ryan McCabe finishing third. Rojas won the two-mile race in 10:51.
Hampton Bays was able to get ahead of Southampton based on its strength in several field events. The Baymen swept the shot put and discus and also won the pole vault. Southampton does not have anyone in the pole vault. Southampton was also still competing without top sprinter Joseph Strassfield, who has been sidelined by a hip flexor injury. Strassfield typically wins the 100- and 200-meter races, and often wins the long jump as well.