By Mike Zummo
Spring track and field is going to look a little more normal in 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused all of the seasons in 2020-21 to be condensed, and distancing rules prevented every team from competing together, so the championship meets were held at various venues and the results combined later.
This year, the championships will be determined on the track and the season will be spread out over the usual two months, as opposed to being shoehorned into a few weeks.
That will give the Marlboro boys’ team an opportunity to defend their Section 9 Class C championship at a proper meet.
The Iron Dukes lost three key athletes – Ben Gordon, Matt Hoffman and Chandler Scott – but return a host of key runners from last year’s team.
The Dukes will return shot put champion Doug Benfer, pole vaulter Kevin DeSantis, jumper Matt Drake, pole vault champion Drew Heimink, steeplechase champion Robert Jackson, long jump champion Sam Lofaro, hurdler Tyler Moulds, thrower Trace Napoli, 200-meter dash, high jump and long jump champion Chinedu Okasi, hurdler Mark Pesano, pole vaulter Colin Robertson, distance runner Domenic Valentino and Dante Valentino.
“We are fortunate to be returning many student-athletes that have had championship level success in our program over the past few years,” seventh year coach Pete Carofano said. “We are also looking for big contributions from our younger athletes and newcomers.”
Newcomers include Miles Brooks, Alexis Camacho, Devin Dirago, Dylan Gunsett, Antonio Hickman, Jose Iraola-Ceely, Dan Maher and Sean Robertson.
In order to compete and succeed at the end of the season, Carofano said the team will need to train hard and stay healthy.
“We’re excited for the season to begin and are working hard to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves, both as individuals and as a team,” Carofano said.
The girls’ team, coached by Tom Fassell, finished fourth at last season’s sectional meet and returns several key runners.
The Dukes have lost sprinter Sarah Mackey, middle distance runner Juliana Frisenda, and jumper Jasmine Verette to graduation.
They will return 400-meter dash champion Marie Antonelli, sprinter and pole vaulter Stephanie Petrie, distance runner Emma Elizondo, thrower Juliana Juras, and jumper Olivia Goodenough.
The Highland boys’ team, under 11th year coach Katie Mancuso posted a 2-3 record last year and finished third at the Section 9 championships in 2021.
The Huskies have lost Jake Duncan, high jumper Logan Lucas and Will Maier to graduation, but they return some key athletes.
Jumper Matt Petty returns to the Huskies this year, along with distance runner Ryan Pikul, Salvador Lopez, Marcelo Coya, and Joe Carpico. Newcomers Alex Papazor, Jamie Manning and Ved Patel will join them.
Mancuso said the team will look to develop their newcomers and with their higher numbers showcase some of the team’s newfound depth.
“I am excited about the interest in track and field this year,” Mancuso said. “The season seems to be off to a quick start, but hopefully that will benefit our athletes.”
The girls’ team, meanwhile, under second-year coach Heather Bragg is looking to rebound from an 0-5 last year, returning just about the entire team.
The Huskies will return Morgan Dunn, Erica Angelillo, who qualified for the NYSPHSAA championship meet during the cross-country season, sprinter Margaret Petty, Julianna Hernandez, Chantel Martinez and Natalie Worrad.
“We are hoping to develop a lot of our newcomers and get back into a normal track and field season,” Bragg said. “That will allow our seniors to have a rewarding final high school season.”
Newcomers include Alice Dong, Daisyanna Ortiz, Sianni Caicedo and Lillian Reynolds.
Like the boys’ team, the girls have seen an influx of new runners.
“I am happy to see some younger athletes try track and field for the first time this year,” Bragg said. “We have a lot of room to grow with a few key leaders to help us along the way.”