In the 12 years that Eddie Arnold has been at the helm of the Southampton girls track and field program, the Lady Mariners have built a reputation as a squad that typically turns out a few talented individuals and relay teams for the postseason, but never really has the depth and strength from top to bottom to be a serious threat as a dual meet team.
Until this season.
The Lady Mariners made school history on Monday, beating Stony Brook, 99.5-48.5, on the road in their final dual meet of the year to finish 7-0 in League VIII competition, winning the program’s first league title since 1977. It was a season-long goal for the team, according to Arnold, and he said every athlete on the roster played a part in making it a reality.
“They all did their job,” he said of the team. “It’s a very special day. Normally, we send some individuals up to states, and we’ve been recognized for our relay teams, but this was something different. Every athlete was responsible for all seven wins. There’s not one person on the team that didn’t have something to do with us winning. I’ve never had that before. That was our goal, to be league champs, and it all came together.”
The Lady Mariners were escorted back into town on Monday night by a convoy of fire trucks, and were greeted by their family and fans upon their return to the high school.
Southampton’s talent and versatility across the board, in a variety of events, was once again on display in the win over Stony Brook, and Arnold added that he was just as proud of athletes who put the team first by competing in multiple events as he was of athletes who took first place in several events.
Distance runner Lumei Abatangelo was a perfect illustration of what Arnold has been praising his team for—she competed in four of the longest races on Monday, taking second in the 3,000-meter race with a time of 12:28; second in the 800, in 2:54; and finishing with a personal-best time of 5:45 in the 1,500-meter race. She also was part of the 4×800-meter relay team, which took second.
“She really pushed herself and forced those other girls to beat her,” Arnold said. “She’s a kid that just does everything a coach asks of her.”
Hannah Connolly-Sporing was dominant, as usual, in distance races as well, winning both the 1,500 (5:10) and the 800 (2:41), while also being part of the winning 4×100- and 4×400-meter relay teams. On the 4×100 team, she was joined by Gabby Gavalas, Noelle Hodges and Brook-Lyn Walker, and they took first with a personal-best time of 52.9 seconds. The 4×400 team also included Keara Wood, Miranda Maloney and Erika Gulija, and they won, in 4:33.
Gulija won three other events, taking first in the 100-meter hurdles (19.1 seconds), the 400 hurdles (77.3) and the high jump. Gavalas won the 200-meter dash, in 28.2 seconds, and was also second in the triple jump with a personal-best mark of 32 feet.
Jackie Minoque came out of nowhere to win the long jump, exceeding her previous personal-best mark by nearly 2 feet with a leap of 14 feet 2½ inches. “That just made my day,” Arnold said of Minoque’s performance.
Iwana Rokosz and Valentina Kobler finished first and second, respectively, in the 1,500-meter racewalk, with times of 9:14 and 9:48. Michele Abatangelo had a personal-best mark of 21 feet 4 inches in the shot put, while Meggie Gallo took second in both the shot put (24 feet 11 inches) and discus (73 feet), with personal-best efforts in both events.
Keara Wood, who Arnold said has been “a gem” for the team this season, was second in the 400-meter race, in 67.7 seconds, while Hodges won the triple jump with a mark of 32 feet 3¼ inches. Walker was third in the triple jump with a mark of 31 feet 4¼ inches, while Kayla Cobb was second in the 100 hurdles, in 19.8 seconds, a personal-best time. Megan Goleski took first in the 100-meter dash, in 13.7 seconds.
Now that their season-long goal has been accomplished, the Lady Mariners will turn their attention to the postseason and also to taking on some stiffer competition. They will travel to White Plains on Saturday to compete in the prestigious Loucks Games before gearing up for the Division Championships at Connetquot High School on May 19 and 21.
The Southampton boys track team had a winning season in League VIII as well, finishing with a 4-2 mark after beating Stony Brook on Monday. Port Jefferson (6-0) and Hampton Bays (6-1) were the only teams to beat Southampton during the regular season.
Results from the Stony Brook meet were not immediately available.
Before taking on Stony Brook, the Mariners competed in an invitational at St. Anthony’s High School on Saturday, and came away with some good results.
Sophomore Jesse Scanlon, who has been one of the most versatile and successful athletes on the team this year, took third in the triple jump with a leap of 43 feet 5 inches, and was also sixth in the 110-meter hurdles, in 16.64, the highest finish for a sophomore at the meet. He made the finals in that event with a time of 15.84 in the prelims.
Sprinter Joseph Strassfield placed in the top 20 in both the 100- and 200-meter races, taking 16th in the 200, in 23.50 seconds, and 20th in the 100, in 11.81 seconds. Spencer Crough was 27th overall in the 800-meter race, in 2:03.72, the best finish for a freshman in that race, while teammate Sebastian Hunter-Cuyjet was 37th, in 2:05.33. Brian Knoebel was 12th in the long jump with a leap of 19 feet 7½ inches.
The Mariners will compete in the North Shore Invitational on May 10 and the freshman/sophomore meet at Longwood High School on May 15 before competing in the Division Championships at Longwood High School on May 20 and 22.