A challenging conference schedule against Nassau County’s largest schools helped chart a bright future for a young Long Beach girls track & field team.
A jump in enrollment moved Long Beach up to Division 1B to compete against programs with steep track traditions including Uniondale, Massapequa, Freeport, Syosset and Hempstead. Despite the stepped-up competition, a Lady Marines squad comprised mainly of underclassmen finished the regular season at 7-5-1 and qualified 18 for the Nassau County Class AAA Championship meet on May 22 at Westbury High School.
“We had some nice wins against some of the larger schools and big track programs,” said 15th-year Long Beach girls track & field coach Megan Grahlfs. “They really showed up every minute with their top competitors which made us strive to be a better team.”
Sophomore Jamie Risso made big strides this season reaching the finals of the triple jump in the Nassau County State Qualifier meet at North Shore High School last weekend and placing sixth overall. Risso also placed second in the triple jump, third in the long jump and fourth in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles during the Division 1B meet at Plainview-JFK High School last month. She was named All Division in the long jump and triple jump.
“She is a very hard worker,” said Grahlfs of Risso, who broke the school record for both the triple jump and long jump. “She did a great job this season.”
Risso was among six Lady Marines to rank top 10 in the conference. Junior Jillian Lerner and freshman Annelise Whelan both ranked fifth in the high jump with leaps of 4 feet, 10 inches. Seniors Zoe Lollis and Jasmine Johnson ranked fourth and sixth, respectively, in the 100 meters. Sophomore Meilin Garfinkel ranked ninth in the steeple case 200 meters with a time of 8:19:00.
Junior Fatima Morrobel also competed in the state qualifier and finished ninth in the 800-meter finals. She placed fourth in the event during the Division 1B finals.
Morrobel also was part of a 4x800 relay team featuring junior Erin Brown, freshman Samantha Addeo and Garfinkel that competed in the counties. The 4x100 relay team of Lollis, Johnson along with freshmen Emma Holt and Natalia Hakimzadeh broke a school record in the counties. The 4x4 relay was comprised of freshmen Nicole Perez and Katherine Almeida, junior Isabella Defantie and Whelan.
Grahlfs credits her assistant coaches Dan Vaeth, Ian Butler and Dan Quinn with playing an instrumental role in the team’s development throughout the spring. Butler, a former standout quarterback at Hofstra, has played a big part in Long Beach’s short distance runners improving their times as sprint coach the past eight years while Quinn has coached shot put and discuss the past five years. Vaeth joined Grahlfs’ staff three years ago and has spearheaded development in the hurdles and triple jump events.
“Dan has been apart of the spring track program for three years and is a key factor for developing strong long and triple jumpers,” Grahlfs said. “He is dedicated to the success of the program and a great addition to our coaching staff.”