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Raider Track and Field Article League 1A Meet

Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 by Justin Harris
When junior captain Arthur Whyte entered himself in the 200m dash at the League 1A meet, he knew he was guaranteed to set a new personal best in the event. However, Whyte’s confidence was not a result of feeling loose and well-stretched before the race, nor the excitement of running in a championship meet – Whyte was guaranteed a personal best because it was the first time he would get a chance to run the event all season.
            Thus, Whyte had no particularly high aspirations for the race, and hoped simply to run a decent time and maybe score a point or two for the team. Said Whyte, “I was really just doing it for fun, and to see what my time would be. I’d been thinking about running it at state qualifiers, and just wanted an opportunity to post a time.”
            Whyte was placed in the first heat in the preliminaries, a heat stacked with strong New Rochelle runners. Unfazed, Whyte sprinted out in front of them all, picking up speed down the final stretch – a surprising victory, but still only the preliminary round, and as Whyte knew, beating an opponent in a preliminary heat may be tough, but beating the same opponent a second time in the finals is even tougher. Still, a victory is nothing to be trivialized, and Whyte was able to build off his performance in the final heat. “After I won the prelims I felt pretty confident in myself, especially since I raced well on the final stretch.” Said Whyte.
            As Whyte geared up tor the finals, only minutes later, he knew he would have to eclipse his 23.1 second performance in the preliminary heat in order to have any chance at another victory. When the gun went off, however, it was clear that Whyte had every intention of doing so. With just 100m left, Whyte and another runner from New Rochelle broke away from the pack, but at the point, it was over. Whyte surged ahead to win the race and score 10 points for the Raiders, all in a personal best time of 22.9 seconds. 
            What is most astonishing is not Whyte’s single performance in the 200m dash, but that Whyte competed in four events – the legal limit – and won each and every one. Whyte’s performance scored an incredible 40 points for the Raiders, as he took first in the 110m high hurdles, the triple jump, and the long jump. “Going into the meet, I was just hoping to win the triple jump, and score in the others. It was awesome to be able help the team out and further our attempt to win Leagues.” Said Whyte.
            The League, one of the toughest in all of Section One athletics, is composed of White Plains High School, New Rochelle High School, Mamaroneck High School, and for the girls, Ursuline High School, and held the championship meet at New Rochelle High School.
            Whyte was not the only Raider to take first place at the League 1A meet, as Scarsdale had eight first place finishers in the boys’ meet and two in the girls’. One such event that produced a Scarsdale winner was the 2000m steeplechase run, a difficult race that combines distance and hurdling in such a way as to discourage many normal distance runners or hurdlers. Senior Ilkyu Lee led the way in the event from the get-go, winning in a time of 6 minutes, 31.2 seconds. Lee was followed close behind by fellow senior and captain Sam Kohn, who, working with Lee, finished second in 6 minutes, 33.4 seconds. 
            In addition, the Raiders were able to take advantage of the relatively few number of competitors, and snag an extra three points in the form of a fifth and sixth place finish from freshman Kazuya Seki and sophomore Miro Shirasaka, who crossed the finish line in times of 7 minutes, 28.5 seconds, and 7 minutes, 42.2 seconds, respectively. 
            For the first time ever, the girls’ fielded a runner in the steeplechase, sophomore Kathryn Peruski, whose 8 minute, 42.5 second performance earned her third place, and a school record in the event. Following Peruski’s event, the girls 800m run provided a fiercely competitive race, with a number of exceptional times. Scarsdale’s lone scorer in the event, sophomore Alexandra Cappello, placed fourth, in 2 minutes, 26.0 seconds.   Said Cappello, “Although I wanted to finish top three in the 800m, I was happy because got a PR.  The next day, I wanted to make up for the 800m race and get top three in the 1500m.” 
            Indeed, Cappello managed to surpass her expectations, as she blew away the field in the 1500m race, finishing 11 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. Cappello earned the girls a vital ten points, and finished in a time of 5 minutes flat. 
            Having just watched Cappello race, senior captain Miles Kirwin was fired up at the starting line of his first event, the 1600m run. Kirwin, battling an incredibly tough field, placed fifth, in a personal best time of 4 minutes, 34.6 seconds, and in addition, managed to out-lean a New Rochelle runner at the finish line and pick up two extra points. “It’s been almost a year since I’ve set a personal record in the mile, and I’m excited that I finally was able to break past 4:37, especially since it helped me beat New Rochelle.”
            Another one of Scarsdale’s showcase events, the 3200m run, began shortly after the 1600m run, and produced yet another first place Raider finish. In a reversal of the 2000m steeplechase, Kohn finished first, in a time of 10 minutes, 1.9 seconds, and Lee finished in second with a time of 10 minutes, 7.1 seconds. 
            Following the 3200m run was the 110m high hurdles, one of Whyte’s four victories, and also the specialty of junior Jessy Lee. Whyte, again, was the underdog of the race, with four New Rochelle runners entered. Whyte, in an inspiring performance, took home the gold a second time, winning the event in 15.0 seconds. In the girls’ race, Lee placed sixth, earning a crucial point with her 17.5 second finish. 
            Whyte’s remarkable 200m victory came directly after the high hurdles, but Whyte was not the lone Scarsdale competitor in the finals. Seniors Sadaatsu Kora and Adam Rose, two staples of the sprinting team, placed fourth and fifth. Kora’s 23.7 second performance contributed four points to the total team effort, while Rose brought in two more, as he finished just one tenth of a second behind Kora, in 23.8 seconds.
            Kora was also the only scorer in the 100m dash, but admirably held his own in a harsh heat, with no other Raiders making the final cut. Despite running in a heat with four with four runners from New Rochelle, Kora managed to post a 11.5 second effort to secure third, and interrupt New Rochelle’s sweep of the top four places.
            In one of the most impressive performances of the day, junior Matthew Usukumah took third place in the 400m dash, running a personal best of 53.5 seconds. Also in that race was Rose, who placed sixth, in a time 55.3 seconds.
            After the 400m dash, the New Rochelle hurdle crew went to work, setting up hurdles on the track for the 400 intermediate hurdles, an event that in prior years has been the bane of Scarsdale’s League Championship aspirations. However, the Raiders evidently learned from their past experiences, as they entered in the event one of their strongest runners, junior captain Roscoe Balter. Sure enough, Balter came through for Scarsdale, as Balter snagged nine points for the Raiders, after finishing in a controversial tie with a New Rochelle runner, both of whom finished in 58.5 seconds.
            Balter was also successful in the field, and has consistently been, along with Whyte, one of Scarsdale’s most reliable jumpers. In the triple jump, the one event that Whyte was hoping to win, he faced some of the fiercest competition, only his competitor was his teammate, Balter. Whyte edged out Balter for first place by a mere quarter of an inch, with a leap of 41 feet, 11.25 inches, while Balter was second with 41 feet, 11.0 inches, in dramatic series of jumps, with each one outdoing the other. Senior captain Sumire Takamatsu was also able to partake in the success circulating around the pits, as she placed fourth in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump, with jumps of 33 feet, 3.25 inches, and 14 feet, 8.0 inches in her respective events. 
            Whyte, in his fourth and final event, the long jump, won with flying colors, jumping a full 2.5 inches farther than his nearest opponent. Balter finished third in the event, jumping his way to a 20 foot, 4.0 inch performance.

            In yet another one of Scarsdale’s many first place finishes, junior Jack Balter cleared the 6 foot mark in the high jump for the first time this season, after suffering a shin injury for over a year, and that he was able to return to form so quickly is a testament to his talent and training. The Raiders actually wound up sweeping both the boys’ and the girls’ high jump, as fellow junior teammate Laura Lutzker jumped over a height of 5.0 feet, three inches higher than her nearest opponent. Junior Cleo Palmer-Poroner, also entered in the event, had a similarly successful day, as she set herself a new personal best, clearing four feet, six inches for the first time. Said Palmer-Poroner, “I was ecstatic when I finally cleared the bar. I had been pushing for 4’06 for a while in practice, and it proves that my training is paying dividends.”
            In addition to the 400m intermediate hurdles, the Raiders were also able to score in events usually dominated by New Rochelle. In the shot put, up-and-coming sophomore Ianni Drivas placed fifth, with a toss of 37 feet, 9 inches. Meanwhile, sophomores Andrew Arbeeny and Jake Squadron placed fourth in fifth, respectively in the pentathlon, where Arbeeny scored 1791 points, and Squadron scored 1476.
            The last field event of the day, the pole vault, was also one in which Scarsdale had struggled in the past, but as a result of several notable performances, the event became one of Scarsdale’s strongest. With clearances of eight feet, eight feet, and seven feet, six inches, respectively, the sophomore crew of Max Forman, Jaron Orlando, and Nick Brovender contributed 12 points to the team, placing third, fourth, and fifth. On the girls’ team, sophomore Caroline Botvin placed fourth overall with a vault of eight feet, just six inches behind the third place finisher.
            Concluding the League meet were the relay teams, which often are the most exciting events, especially considering that many schools must double their runners in other events in addition to relays. The first relay of the day, the boys 4x800m relay, was one of Scarsdale’s most successful, as it placed second, and received the corresponding eight points.  The team, of Kirwin, Lee, senior Nikita Levin, and junior Justin Harris finished the race in a time of 8 minutes, 34.0 seconds.  In the girls’ 4x800m relay, Peruski, Cappello, sophomore Moriah Trenk, and junior captain Katrina Ricks combined to produce a 10 minute, 36.1 second effort, good enough for third. 
            In the 4x400m relay, the boys’ team, comprised of Jack Balter, Usukumah, freshman Takane Shoji, and junior Neal Yousefian, ran the challenging event in 3 minutes, 50.12 seconds, while the girls’ corresponding relay captured fifth place in a time of 4 minutes, 31.7 seconds through the efforts of Takamatsu, Ricks, junior Ilana Balter, and freshman Allison Elliott.
            The last event of the day, the 4x100m relay, produced some of the most exciting drama of the meet. The girls’ relay, made up of Lee, juniors Carole Rosenberg and Caitlin Orlando, and senior captain Courtney Kaplan produced a 55.7 second race, just six tenths of a second behind the third place finisher. The boys’ relay, composed of Kora, Rose, and sophomores Joseph Louie and David Faust, ran their way to a time of 47.4 seconds.
            Overall, although the Raiders were unsuccessful in knocking off New Rochelle, head coach Richard Clark was happy with their second place finish, saying, “I really can’t be upset that we didn’t win because New Rochelle is a much larger school, 2.5 times larger than we are, and we just don’t have the depth in our student body to stack events like they do. We came into the meet as David going against a Goliath, and there was really nothing we could have done to change the outcome.”
            Continued Clark, “I think the same thing goes for the girls as well. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t get third, but we were going up against some pretty tough, large schools in the form of Urusline and New Rochelle. We’re the smallest school in our League, but I think we nevertheless mounted a gallant effort, and we will hopefully do better at the County meet.”

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