Chris Reich was bemoaning the fact that he and Luis Morales, who assists him with the East Hampton High School boys track team, only had the services of 16 competitors in the meet here with Shoreham-Wading River on May 4, but had he been at the track the day before, he was told, his heart would have leaped up to see the scores of junior high kids Bill Herzog had under his wing.
“Most of our kids are young — Alex Osborne, Sage Gibbons, Thomas Brierley, they’re all freshmen — so if we can get some of these kids from the middle school up here in the next couple of years things could look up,” said Reich, who remembers the time almost a decade ago when Herzog, Kevin Barry, and Sean Knight oversaw championship running teams here in cross-country and winter and spring track, teams he was on.
When Nick West’s name came up — the seventh grader recently broke Matt Rubenstein’s one-mile record by running a 5:12 in gym class — Reich said, “He’s faster than I was when I was his age — he’s a strong wrestler too. I gave him my college track spikes.”
Later in the week, when told Herzog had some pretty impressive junior high girls on his team as well, Shani Cuesta seconded Reich’s wish that they remain with the sport.
The official score of the boys’ meet with Shoreham, which had a very well-rounded team, was 107-35. Reich later told his charges that “the absolute minimum you can have in order to compete in a meet is 14,” and that they could have done even better if four of their peers, for reasons unknown to him, had not failed to show.
A sophomore, Keaton Crozier, got two seconds that day, in the long and triple jumps, and ran a 59.8 second leg in the 4-by-400 meter relay. Thus he received the coaches’ “Tiger Award” for the day.
But the big news, said Reich, was Taylor Harned’s winning 138-2 throw in the discus, “the best he’s done by 10 feet. . . . He’s the only senior on this team. He’s an incredible athlete. He not only throws the disc, he pole vaults and puts the shot, and today he stepped up to volunteer to run the first leg of the 4-by-1 in Carl Grimm’s place.”
Harned’s throw, Reich continued, “puts him in contention to go to the state meet . . . it would be good for him.”
In other events, the shot-put was won by Harned, and Mike Peralta turned in a personal best in winning the 400 intermediate hurdles. Osborne ran a personal record in the 800, in 2:22, and John Grogan, a sophomore, ‘pr’d’ in the mile, with a 5:36. Mike Hamilton, East Hampton’s chief miler, suffered a hamstring pull on the third lap, though he went on to finish. Grogan stepped in for him in the 800.
As for the girls, Cuesta, who assists Diane O’Donnell with the varsity, took seven competitors to an invitational meet at Hampton Bays this past weekend.
The small — even for this team — number was due to the fact that “a number of our kids were taking the SATs,” she said.
Jennie DiSunno, ordinarily a sprinter, debuted in the 800 at Hampton Bays, trading in her spikes for sneakers because of aching shins, and placed third in 2:44.8. “She ran beautifully,” said Cuesta. “Other coaches remarked on it.”
DiSunno also took third in the pole vault, at 6 feet, with Dana Cucci fourth, also at 6-0.
Emily Matz, a freshman, ran a personal best 15.3 in the 100, though she did not place. Lily Goldman, a sophomore, ran that race in 16.7.
Matz, who put the shot and ran in the 200 as well, also gave the steeplechase a try, but withdrew. The arduous 2,000-meter race has five track-width balance beam type hurdles and a water trap.
Concerning the water trap, Cuesta said, “The girls usually step into it. Some of them stand on the hurdles before leaping — it gets to be quite a crush.”
The water trap, she added, was “ready-made, it’s like the little trench we have at the base of the pole vault to put the poles in. It’s on the infield near the track. It’s covered when not in use. We put in for one here, but it didn’t get approved.”
Charlotte Wiltshire “probably would have won the high jump, but she didn’t sign up in time. A 4-6 won it, and Charlotte has done a 4-8. . . . Vicky Nardo threw a 49-3 in the discus, the best she’s done, and Charlotte threw 61-3.”
The girls were to have had a meet here with Westhampton Beach Tuesday. “They’ve got some good distance runners, but we have a chance,” said Cuesta, “a very good chance at winning our first meet of the season.”