Hannah Connolly-Sporing’s winter track season got off to a great start when she ran a 1:43 in the 600-meter race in just the second meet of the season. But the Lady Mariner runner became frustrated as the season wore on and she found she couldn’t improve on that finish, struggling with a foot arch injury and the pressure of her own expectations. Connolly-Sporing persevered, however, and it paid off on Friday when she pulled off an upset at the Small Schools Championship at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, winning her signature event with a time of 1:41.27.
“She put it together at the right time,” Southampton girls track coach Eddie Arnold said. “She had been getting frustrated with her times, but it was normal. We talked about it and told her she’d be fine.”
Connolly-Sporing, a junior, was seeded fifth in the race but managed to upset several runners who had faster seed times than her. Arnold explained that many of those runners had fast seed times from competing in meets at the Armory in New York City, on a track that is more conducive to fast times because runners can wear spikes and also because the track is banked, unlike at Suffolk West.
“I told her she had one of the pure fastest times at Suffolk West,” Arnold said, referring to Connolly-Sporing’s time of 1:43 from that second meet of the season at Suffolk West. “She’s been an underdog the whole season, and to beat that field is pretty good.”
If Connolly-Sporing can ride the wave of her Small Schools championship finish at the state qualifier meet at Suffolk West on Saturday, she could earn a spot in the state meet. That would be an impressive feat—unlike spring track, winter track is not divided into Division I (large schools) and Division II (small schools) when it comes to qualifying for states. In order to make it to states, Connolly-Sporing will need to finish in the top two among all runners in the county. The third-place finisher earns a spot as a member of a Section XI medley relay team at states.
While Connolly-Sporing was the standout at the Small Schools meet, several other Lady Mariners performed well. Valentina Cobler had a personal-best finish in the 1,500-meter racewalk with a time of 8:59.65, achieving her personal goal of breaking the nine-minute mark.
Erika Gulija had a personal-best time of 3:25 in the 1,000-meter race, taking 12th overall.
Sophomore Jesse Scanlon led the Southampton boys track team at the Small Schools Championship at Suffolk West on Saturday, placing in the top 12 in three events. Scanlon became the Small Schools county champ in the triple jump, winning with a leap of 42 feet, 9 inches. He also took fifth in the 55-meter hurdles in 8.49 seconds, and was 12th in the long jump with a mark of 19 feet, 2 and 1/2 inches.
In the 55-meter dash, Joseph Strassfield was among the best, taking fifth in 6.86 seconds, while in the 600-meter race, Spencer Crough was ninth overall in 1:31.60. Sebastian Hunter-Cuyjet was 13th in the 1,000-meter race in 2:42.02.
The Mariners will compete in the state qualifier at Suffolk West on Saturday, the same day as the girls.