Not at full strength for the Nassau Class AA track and field championships at Roosevelt High School on May 23, Hewlett still managed some impressive performances and a third-place finish with 53 points behind Manhasset (129) and Roslyn (55.)
Hewlett junior David Durdaller, on the heels of division meet victories in the 3200- and 1600-meter races, cruised to the county title in the 3000 steeplechase, while classmates Ryan Bruce and Oren Shmuel and sophomore Sam Vanunu earned All-County honors with runner-up finishes.
“I’m really proud of the guys and how they stepped up,” said coach Eamon McHugh, who guided the Bulldogs to a 12-1 Conference 3 record and the Division 3A championship.
Durdaller, who was 30 seconds faster than any of the competition in the steeplechase win with a 9-minute, 58.65-seconds effort, will concentrate on the event at the state qualifier this Friday and Saturday at North Shore High School with hopes of advancing to the state meet. In the mile at the division meet, he set a new personal best by seven seconds. “We’re going to keep his legs fresh at the state Q,” McHugh said. “David is such a coachable kid. He’s been out-of-control good. He always struggled in transition from cross country to indoors, but this year he carried his momentum through all three seasons.”
Bruce, as well as junior Zion Blackman, led Hewlett in the hurdles with senior standout Jayden Francis unable to compete. Bruce finished second in the 110 hurdles (16.43 seconds) and Blackman wasn’t too far behind in fourth with a time of 16.87. Bruce also managed fifth in the county in the Long Jump and sixth in the Triple Jump.
“Ryan was a huge factor in the division meet and picked up the slack with Jayden not at counties,” McHugh said of Bruce, who was the division champ in both the Long Jump and Triple Jump. “He’s solid at everything he does.”
Francis captured two division titles as well, winning the 110 and 400 hurdles. He’s expected to make noise in the state qualifier. “He’s the school record-holder in the 110 and the best all-around hurdler I’ve coached in 25 years,” McHugh noted.
Shmuel capped a breakout season with a breakout performance at the county meet in the High Jump and nearly came away with the title. He and Manhasset’s Meldon Grant both topped out at 6-feet, however, Grant got the nod via tiebreaker since he cleared the height on his first attempt. “Oren worked on his craft and finished strong,” McHugh said.
A consistent work ethic paid off for Vanunu, who according to the coach went all-out just to qualify for the county meet in the Triple Jump. Once he got there, he shattered his personal best by almost two feet (41’-9”.) Other top performances were turned in by junior thrower Noah Zalcman-Turkel, who won the division title in the Shot Put, junior Aiden Blumenstein, the division champ in the Pole Vault, and sophomore Emmanuel Richards, who was division runner-up in the Triple Jump.