Placing third of five in the league for the girls and third of four for the boys, the Scarsdale track and field team did its best to score points over as many events as possible, but fell short for a number of reasons.
While the Raiders feature an extremely large team:
1) They are a coach short, which mostly impacts the jumps and the throws.
“It’s a program we’re one coach short,” coach Rich Clark said. “The horizontal and high jumps need that and we’d also like to have somebody with the shot put. We didn’t adequately cover all bases like we have in the past. Me, Vinny [Modafferi], Doug [Rose], Talya [Holtzer] and Catherine [Flores] knew we weren’t going to win, but we were hoping we would be competitive. I thought we were competitive in the events we were in.”
2) They have many young and up-and-coming athletes.
“We’ve got a young group and hopefully next year we can build on the hurdles, the long and triple, the high jump and shot put,” Clark said. “We were competitive in most of the other events.”
3) A large portion of the team members are there for activity and workout.
“I look at those kids, and I know the staff does, too, that they’re doing something, they’re active, they’re not sitting, they’re doing aerobic stuff and it’s healthful,” Clark said. “Our goal, yes, we want to do well and we want to do better next year, but we’ve also got a whole bunch of kids that are being taught a way of life that hopefully will last the rest of their lives. To me that’s just as important.”
That said, the Raiders had many top performances at the Armory on Jan. 12. The girls had their best event in the 300-meter dash. Sophia Franco took first place in 43.12 seconds, and Rachel Doherty, Jasmine Gipson, Samantha Hausman, Annabel Jacobs and Yurami van Eer took third through seventh places, respectively.
“They’ve been training hard and we did get some much-needed points there,” Clark said. “I think that was our strongest event. It says a lot about what Talya and Catherine and Vinny have been doing with those girls. They were excited about competing and against New Ro and Mount Vernon in the 300 they competed well.”
Freshman Alexandra Simon, who emerged as the top female runner toward the end of the cross-country season, has already made her track and field presence known. She was fourth in the 1,000-meter and third in the pole vault at leagues.
“She’s one who always goes out hard and I like that because even if they should fade as a freshman, to have the wherewithal to get out there is good,” Clark said. “And when they get more training they’ll be able to hold on longer. She looked good in the thousand. I think she can do anything from the 1,500 down to the 400 well. We’re trying to move her around and see what her best event would be. Right now the thousand looks pretty good.”
Simon vaulted 7 feet, but she was racing between events at the meet.
“She had to leave it to run the thousand and come back to it,” Clark said. “They didn’t give her a lot of time. She probably could have gotten 7-6. She goes to The Barn in Warwick and does the vault there once a week. She does commit and it shows and it’s paying off. She’s so multitalented.”
Scarsdale won both the 4x200- and 4x400-meter relays and that’s where Scarsdale’s numbers, youth and depth paid off.
“We had a lot of young kids in those relays, a lot of sophomores and juniors,” Clark said. “Hard work and perseverance pay off. They were All-League and they get a plaque. That will help them realize training and having a big team and being a supporting member of a big team, a contributing member of a big team, is something positive.”
Though handoffs were shaky at the kickoff meet in early December, the Raiders cleared those up for leagues.
“We do it out here a bit,” Clark said. “That’s a tricky thing. In our first meet we handed off out of zone a couple of times. But they worked on it and did pretty good handoffs. They’re getting it down.”
Other top finishes included Gipson fifth in the 55-meter dash, Natalia Lago seventh in the 600-meter, Victoria Capobianco third in the 1,500-meter, Elizabeth Fine fifth in the 55-meter hurdles, Avery Bensche third in the high jump, Diya Shadaksharappa first in the long jump, with Bensche fourth, and Shadaksharappa second in the triple jump.
Boys recover well
Some of the boys competed under circumstances that were not ideal, but they fought through to help the team.
D.J. Matusz missed the 600-meter, one of his best events, because he wanted to attend the wake for Tara Keane Jacobson, the mother of one of his former relaymates, Eric Jacobson. Matusz ran the 300-meter, a much shorter race than he’s used to, and came through with flying colors, placing fourth in 36.96. That’s farther back than Matusz is used to finishing in races.
“He did well,” Clark said. “That’s not his event, but it gave him a little bit of leg speed and he produced.”
Daniel Asher was having an issue with his foot at the meet — possibly as a result of running in old sneakers — and although he muscled through to win the 1,000-meter in a personal best 2:37.53, he had to pull himself from the 4x400-meter relay.
For the same reason he liked Matusz in an unfamiliar event, Clark put Asher in the 1,000 instead of the mile.
Ward Bandsma had been sick the previous week and is just getting back to work. He stepped up to place fifth in the 1,600-meter in 4:46.53.
“I was pretty happy with his time,” Clark said. “He faded a bit, but held on. That’s a step in the right direction for him. He knows he had a good race. He knew it wouldn’t be perfect just coming back.”
Then there was Jack McEvoy taking third in the 600-meter. His training schedule has been altered with his A-School internship, but he’s managing to prioritize both.
“Jack’s a good runner,” Clark said. “The race unfolded at a pretty quick pace. He was leading for a while and faded, but he didn’t fade that much. He surged at the end and held his position. He’s a tough runner.”
Jake Coleman has been going strong since early summer and had a couple of weeks off to recuperate, so he’s also starting to find his stride at this point in the season. He took second in the 3,200-meter in 10:00.88, with Alexandre Friedman following in third 14 seconds behind.
“Jake’s only been back two weeks,” Clark said. “I think he’ll be very competitive in the state qualifier in that event. I think we’re going to have a bunch of kids competitive in the state qualifier in many of the events.
“That’s not a normal event for Alex, but he’s really doing it to get mental toughness and strength. Jake was tough, but the kid from New Ro outkicked him in the last 150 meters. They were both tough in that. Jake and Alex maintained. Alex was back and came up. Jake for a while was leading. That was run together with all the different leagues.”
The boys also saw strong performances from Jacob Sinclair (seventh in the 300-meter), Shan Daniel (fifth in the 600-meter), Erik Rizk (seventh in the 600-meter), Jack Porter (third in the 1,000-meter), Simon Bandsma (fourth in the 1,000-meter), Sam Denison (fifth in the 3,200-meter), Reese Shelon (sixth in the long jump), Matthew Shepetin (fourth in the triple jump) and Dorji Phuntsho (third in the shot put).
Scarsdale has the New Balance Games this weekend, the final meet that doesn’t require qualifying standards. Then it’s on to the bigger postseason meets like the Westchester County meet, the Class A meet and the state qualifier. The team might get smaller going forward, but the lifestyle built this season could last a lifetime.