Small Teams, Big Hearts

Mike Peralta, on his way to a runner-up finish in the Rocky Point meet here on March 30, and Brock Lownes are vying to determine which of them will be East Hampton’s top performer in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. Jack Graves

    The three track teams here, at East Hampton High School and at the Ross School, have been doing creditably despite small numbers, and, in fact, the Ross-Pierson boys team won its first meet in the program’s four-year history by defeating Babylon 101-14 Saturday.
    Notable among Ross-Pierson’s performances were Marco Lanuto’s win in the 400-meter race in 58.5 seconds and the 2:26.2 he ran in winning the 800. Oliver Lauro won the 100-meter dash in 12.6 seconds. Ross-Pierson swept the relays. Lauro, Diego Gamboa, Sun Lin, and Dan McMahon won the 4-by-100 in 51.1 seconds. Lanuto, McMahon, Patrick Ficorelli, and Ross Kadri won the 4-by-4, and Grant Kusick, Dyain Johnson, Max Yardley, and Phil Wessman won the 4-by-8.
    Both of East Hampton’s teams are small, but there have been good individual performances, chief among them this past week being Ashley West’s school record-breaking 2:27.7 in the 800. West thus eclipsed the 2:30 that Danielle Ficeto ran some 20 years ago when East Hampton’s girls were winning league and conference championships.
    Bonac’s boys and girls, whose team recently lost Caoimhe McKeon and Dalton Brauer to injuries, had yet to win as of Monday, though Diane O’Donnell, the girls coach, said that besides West, she and her assistant, Shani Cuesta, had been getting good performances from Saoirse McKeon — in the shot-put, 100, and long jump — from Morgan German and Cosima Scheflout in the 400, from Lena Vergnes in the 1,500-meter racewalk, from Charlotte Wiltshire in the high jump, from Hannah Jacobs, Vicky Nardo, and Wiltshire in the discus, and from Jen DiSunno in the 100-meter hurdles, the 200, and in the 4-by-100 relay.
    Moreover, in the meet with Rocky Point last week, West, in the anchor leg of the 4-by-400 relay, “started off 150 meters behind the other girl and ate her up on the home stretch.”
    “We call ourselves ‘the little team that could,’ “ O’Donnell said after Monday’s practice. “Rocky Point outnumbered us 45 to 18. It was about the same at Miller Place on Friday [a meet that, because of wretched weather, was called midway through]. We’ve said to the girls that they should concentrate on getting good at one event so they can go to the divisions. There are 17 events in a track meet and we’ve got 17 girls. It looks as if we won’t have a 4-by-8 team this year — we just don’t have the runners. The main thing is that they’re learning and progressing, and that they’ve been able to have individual success.”
    West, Vergnes, whose best racewalk time has been a creditable 8:29.1, and Wiltshire, who has high jumped 4 feet 8 inches, have already met the cutoffs for the division meet.
    As for the boys, Chris Reich, the young head coach, said Monday that “if these young kids we’ve got stick with it, they’ll be very good in two years. . . . We did better in our first meet than in the one with Rocky Point. We were missing two of our top scorers in the first one. If they’d been there, we would have been competitive.”
    Reich said he and his assistant, Luis Morales, saw great promise in, among others, a long-legged sophomore, Brock Lownes (hurdles, jumps, and middle distances), Hunter Kelsey (200, 4-by-100, 4-by-400), who’s also a sophomore, and in two freshmen, Alex Osborne (middle distances) and Sage Gibbons (200 and 400). “Sage has come close to breaking 60 seconds in the 400, which is pretty good for a freshman.”
    The boys team has only two seniors, Ben Malecki, a pole vaulter, and Taylor Harned, who, in Reich’s words, “is carrying the team on his shoulders.”
    Besides being adept at putting the shot and throwing the disc, “Taylor can high jump 5-2, and we’re trying him out in the long jump and pole vault. We’re hoping that he’ll do the pentathlon in the county meet.”
    “We’ve only got 26 guys, but if we can get their confidence up their future is bright,” Reich said.
    Most of the boys and girls teams’ competitors are to run in the Katy’s Courage 5K in Sag Harbor on Saturday morning. The race, in memory of Jim and Brigid Stewart’s late daughter, is to raise money for a scholarship fund in her name and to help underwrite pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City.