East Hampton High’s track teams went up against their Miller Place peers in season-opening meets on March 27, and while it was no surprise that both the boys and girls lost, their coaches, Chris Reich and Diane O’Donnell, were encouraged nonetheless.
“It was a good start,” O’Donnell said Monday morning. “We’ve got a lot of new people, and Shani and I don’t know what exactly they can do yet, but we had some good performances there, and the ones we expected to do well did.”
O’Donnell said she expected Miller Place and Sayville to vie for the league championship. “We’ve got Sayville today,” she said with a sigh. “We’re beginning the season with a one-two punch. But we’re expecting that the playing field will even out after that.”
In recounting the boys’ 80-50 loss here to the Panthers, Reich said he was happy to have Hunter Kelsey back. Kelsey, a junior, missed half the season last year because of an injury. He looked in fine fettle on the 27th as he won the 100-meter dash, the 200, and was a member of the winning 4-by-100 relay team.
“It seems like he’s 100 percent even though he didn’t do winter track,” said Reich, who also singled out, among others, L.B. Lownes, a senior hurdler and long jumper, Adam Cebulski, a sophomore distance runner, Jacob Hands, Joe Olszewski, both throwers, J.C. Barrientos, a senior 400 runner who’s new to the sport, and Liam Kessler, “the biggest suprise . . . he came to us from baseball, out of nowhere, and was just a hair slower than Hunter. He also anchored the 4-by-1.”
A number of East Hampton’s soccer players are on the squad, among them Jerges Albin, Barrientos, Alvaro Aguilar, Pablo Carreno, Donte Donegal, and Nick West. The latter two are nursing injuries at the moment. “Nick has a sore Achilles — if we’d had him for the 4-by-4, we would have won it.”
As it was, the Bonackers put a scare into the Panthers. “I was running the numbers, and at the midway point we were beating them,” said Reich. “I don’t think they expected that. . . . If we had everyone healthy — Mike Hamilton, who does the mile and 4-by-4 for us was missing, as was one of our throwers, Keaton Crozier — we would have won by 5 points. It’s the fewest points we’ve lost by in two years.”
Reich wasn’t about to concede 9 points in the pole vault. “Only one of their three guys was able to clear eight feet, the minimum height; so they got 5 points in that. At the moment we don’t have any pole-vaulters, but I’d like to get Dallas Foglia to do it — he’s not afraid, and he’s speedy and strong. Maybe Alvaro and Nick West too.”
Hands won the discus and fouled out in the shot-put. “Otherwise,” said the coach, “he would have been second in the shot.” Olszewski was the shot-put winner.
Lownes won the 100-meter high hurdles and the 400 intermediate hurdles, and was a member of the winning 4-by-1 team. “L.B. won it for us, blowing by their kid on the third leg,” Reich said, adding that “he would have won the long jump for us too, but he fouled three times, taking off a little bit ahead of the board.”
Barrientos was “still figuring out how to run the 400,” said Reich. He’s doing it in 56 seconds now, but he should be able to get down to 54 or 53. . . . He also does the 100 and 200.”
Cebulski ran a personal best 10:37 in the 3,200, finishing third.
Reich said he told his charges they couldn’t win a meet with just second and third-place finishes, that they needed firsts. “If we had seconds and thirds in everything, and no firsts, we would still have lost by 10 points.”
Reich and his assistant, Luis Morales, remember the good old days of East Hampton track not all that long ago. They were mainstays, along with the Ahearn twins, Brian and Kevin, Joe Sullivan, Kenny Fromm, and Kevin Rousell on the league-championship team of 2003, capping a school year that included division, county, and Long Island titles in cross-country, and a league championship in winter track.
“With our 50 guys we’re hoping to break our losing streak this season,” Reich said.
Getting back to the girls, Ashley West, the team’s all-state performer, won the 200 and 400, Sedona Brosse won the high jump, Morgan German was the runner-up in the 400 hurdles, Hannah Jacobs was the runner-up in the disc, Kathryn Wood was second in the triple jump, Saoirse McKeon was third in the 100, Jenny DiSunno was third in the 800, Amanda Calabrese was third in the 200, and Lena Vergnes, with a time of 8:37.57, led a Bonac sweep of the 1,500-meter racewalk. Julie DeSousa was second, and in third was Shannon Ryan, whose aunt, Kathy Piacentine, still holds the school’s racewalk record.