A key injury and a star’s pressing engagement could not deter the Malverne boys’ winter track and field team at the Nassau County Class B Championships at St. Anthony’s Feb. 5.
When league champion sprinter Jordan Graham – fresh off a 300 meters win at the Conference 6 Championships Jan. 29 – was sidelined due to a strain, junior Mules teammate Rashad Teachey – No. 2 in the conference in the 300 – stepped in and clocked a 36.34-second 300 to claim the county title.
“I couldn’t risk letting Jordan run because we need him for outdoors; he’s our best athlete,” said Malverne coach Onix Salva, whose club had finished third overall at the conference championships. “Fortunately, Rashad did a great job filling in. He’s a coach’s dream.”
Malverne’s 4x400-meter relay – which won the conference crown with members Teachey, Donovan Ishmael (senior), Bradley Dorcant (junior), and Graham – took a double hit at the county meet, as three-sport star Ishmael (league champ in the 600 meters) was called away on duty to Malverne’s league-winning basketball team, compounding the absence of anchor Graham.
With seniors Timothy Bosques and Khevon Pinnock replacing Graham and Ishmael respectively, the Mules rallied to capture second in the 4x400 at the Nassau championships – perhaps previewing a new piece of the lineup that will run the event at the New Balance Nationals Indoor tournament March 8 in Manhattan, for which Malverne’s regular relay crew qualified with a season-best mark of 3:26.19 set in December.
“I’m proud of how Timmy will do whatever it takes for the team,” Salva said. “If not for him, we couldn’t have run the 4x400. Khevon is starting to come into his own. He has an opportunity to display his talent and he’s taking advantage of it. Things are shaping up for a good outdoor season.”
In addition to the 4x400 at the Nationals, another piece of unfinished business remains before Malverne swings fully into outdoor mode. Teachey, who photo-finished a hundredth of a second behind winner Graham in the 300 at the league championships, became Malverne’s lone invitee to the Indoor State Championships March 2 in Staten Island, running a third-place 300 at the Section 8 State Qualifier Feb. 14.
“Rashad Teachey has the highest ceiling on the team,” Salva said. “He’s extremely consistent in his work ethic, which makes him the team leader, bar none.”
With Graham shut down for the rest of winter, Malverne’s top-ranked 4x400 unit – No. 1 small school in the state outdoor – will face no easy test at Nationals. But Ishmael’s returning to the fold means the Mules can’t be counted out.
“You don’t find many athletes as special as Donovan Ishmael,” Salva said. “He’s an important piece of two teams simultaneously. He’s always a factor.”
Concluded Salva: “I’ve been planning for this year, building this team around Ishmael and Teachey. But we kept finding new pieces, like Jordan Graham, which was a blessing. It’s a special group. We’re battle-tested indoor. I’m excited to continue and see what comes next.”