After winning its first-ever conference championship a year ago, Seaford boys’ winter track and field had no intention of relinquishing the crown as it headed into the conference meet on Jan. 11 at St. Anthony’s High School.
But to do so, the Vikings knew they would have to stave off a fierce challenge from Clarke, which they led by just a few points entering the final relay races.
Trailing in the final leg of the first of three relays, the 4x800 meters, Seaford would not be denied as the baton was placed into the hands of its anchor, sophomore Jason Linzer. “We were behind I would say by close to 100 meters,” Seaford coach Kimberly Cooke said. “And Jason really made up that difference and pulled ahead with 30 meters to go. It was really an amazing race to see.”
Jason and his teammates, senior Connor Kelly, junior John Krzyminski and sophomore Joe Randazzo narrowly defeated Clarke by two seconds to earn a crucial victory and pad their lead. The exclamation mark was then stamped in the subsequent 4x400-meter relay when runners Anthony Cuchel, David Mascolo, and Matthew Mezzasalma, all seniors, and junior Timothy Saulpaugh again edged out runner-up Clarke to seal the championship.
With Seaford having long been competitive in the fall and spring track seasons, the winter season has become a greater focal point in recent years, said Cooke, and the results have showed. The team fielded 11 All-Conference runners, and earned its highest spot ever in the Nassau Class B Championships on Feb. 7 of fourth place with 40 points, just eight points behind Roslyn and North Shore, who tied for second with 48 points.
Four All-County athletes emerged from that meet, including Linzer, who became the first winter track runner in school history to qualify for the Section VII State Championship, after running the 1600-meters at a personal best and school record 4 minutes and 30 seconds. The state championship meet will take place on March 3 in Staten Island.
“He is a very dedicated runner,” Cooke said of Linzer. “Even though he’s a sophomore, he is a leader for a lot of our athletes on the team.”
Cooke praised the leadership skills of her senior captains, Nicholas Minerva and Cuchel, the latter of whom changed events this year, from high jumping and hurdles to relays and the 600-meters. He qualified for All-Conference in both. Minerva achieved All-Conference honors in the 300-meters.
Junior Andrew Cuchel – Anthony’s brother – had a breakout year in the weight throw to earn All-County honors, and sophomore Al Munro took first place in the conference championship in both the long jump and the high jump.
“I’m so proud of them,” Cooke said of her squad. “Coming into the season, we had a lot of new kids and were developing new athletes … having the experienced athletes really kept the team together and strong. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how it progresses next year.”