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Spring Track: Seven Vied in State Qualifier

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 17:20
Ryan Fowkes, center, held the lead for most of the 1,600-meter race’s bell lap, but was outkicked at the end by the two runners flanking him above, and Bella Tarbet, having emerged from the water jump on the first lap, was the early leader in the first heat of the 2,000-meter steeplechase.
Craig Macnaughton

East Hampton High’s track season wound up Saturday at Comsewogue High School, south of Port Jefferson, the scene on Friday and Saturday of the county’s state qualifier meet.

None of East Hampton’s seven contestants advanced, though their coaches, Yani Cuesta and Ben Turnbull, had good things to say about them.

Bella Espinoza, a sophomore, who cleared 9 feet 6 inches in the pole vault, a personal best, placed seventh in that event.

The 1,600-meter race turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment for Ryan Fowkes, who holds just about every school record in distance races.

It was a rather tall order for the tall senior, who, according to Turnbull, needed either to run the distance in 4 minutes and 17.14 seconds, the state cutoff, or finish as one of the large schools’ top two in order to make the states in that event.

Fowkes took the lead early in the bell lap and maintained it until, in the final 200 meters, he was outkicked by Michael Danzi, a Smithtown West junior, the eventual winner, and by Sean Ryan, a Northport senior. Danzi finished in 4:19.03, with Ryan second, at 4:19.04. Fowkes, as aforesaid, was third, at 4:23.31. Danzi and Ryan had gone one-two the day before in the 800 final.

“Nevertheless, Ryan made all-county in the event,” Turnbull said.

Kal Lewis, a Shelter Island junior, who has run a 4:15, did not have a good day, finishing seventh, in 4:30.70 — apparently slowed by allergy problems — though Turnbull said he qualified for the states nevertheless inasmuch as he was the top small school finisher.

While making the states in the 1,600 had been a goal of his, Fowkes accomplished two others this spring, breaking 4:20 in the mile — his time of 4:18.44 broke his own school record — and earning a berth in the 2,000-meter steeplechase, an event that will be part of New Balance’s outdoor national meet next week in Greensboro, N.C.

Fowkes in March signed a letter of intent to attend George Washington University on a partial running scholarship. Kevin Barry, his cross-country coach, said at the signing that Fowkes held school indoor records in the 1,000 and 1,600 too, adding that “he can run the 400 too. Plus, he’s one of the best cross-country runners I’ve ever had.”

Back to the state qualifier, Matt Maya, a senior, wound up in eighth place among 18 pentathlon competitors, though with fewer points than he’d amassed in the division meet the week before.

On Saturday, Maya, who recently set a school record in the 400 intermediate hurdles, placed fifth in the 1,500, in 4:39.71, and sixth in the long jump, at 19-4, a disappointment inasmuch as he had long-jumped “23 and change” this spring, according to Turnbull.

In Friday’s pentathlon events, Maya placed seventh in the high jump, at 5-8, eighth in the 110-meter high hurdles, in 16.71, and 16th in the shot-put, at 28-11.

A teammate of Maya’s, Frank Bellucci, a junior, also competed in the state qualifier’s pentathlon, finishing 16th with 2,362 points.

“I’ll have him to coach in this event next year,” said Turnbull, who added that he owed Fowkes and Maya “a great amount of gratitude for their dedication to the sport, to their school, and to me in the past five years — three at the varsity level and two at the middle school level.”

The boys season, he said, “was successful — I had a great time watching all the student-athletes grow and improve. Next year we are going to be young, the core of the team being sophomores and seniors, but though we’re losing Ryan and Matt, I’m looking forward very much to the future.”

For her part, Cuesta, the girls coach, said, “It was a good season — we had several athletes who found their strengths and were willing to work extra hard to get themselves as far as they could go. Among the highlights were Ava Engstrom breaking her own school record in the steeplechase, finishing fourth in our league and eighth in our division, and having five athletes compete in the state qualifier, three more than we had last year.”

Aside from Espinoza’s seventh-place finish in the pole vault, Engstrom, a sophomore, placed seventh, and Bella Tarbet, who’s also a sophomore, placed 15th in Saturday’s 2,000-meter steeplechase final, and Hanna Medler, a ninth grader, placed 14th in the pentathlon, with 1,803, a personal best for her.

Medler’s seventh-place finish in the 800, in a personal best 2:51.33, was her highest, though her performances in

the 100-meter high hurdles, the high jump, and in the shot-put were personal bests too.

Grace Brosnan, also a ninth grader, was to have high-jumped in the state qualifier, but did not compete.

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