Coach Matthew Wurtz of the Rye Neck Panthers has much to be happy about this winter.
By Mitch Silver
Coach Matthew Wurtz of the Rye Neck Panthers has much to be happy about this winter. His three distance standouts have all set personal bests in the last two weeks. Cayla Vinzons led the Rye Neck girls in the 1500m at the County meet with a time of 5:26. That followed her silver-medal finish in the 3000 at the League meet with a time of 11:38.
Michael Bucknavage ran a personal best of 4:54 in the 1600m at the County gathering, and he wasn’t even the quickest member of his own team. That honor fell to Conner Sexton, who was four seconds faster.
“Michael is a great example of someone who has worked hard throughout his career,” said Coach Wurtz. “Cayla gets stronger the longer the race. She’s another senior who works hard in the classroom as well as on the track.”
The distance runners aren’t the only top performers on the Panther team. Tessa McSweeney took League gold in the 1500m walk in a time of 9:19. In the field events, Nick Derrico outmuscled everyone in the shot put ring. His winning effort was 32ft. 2in. Anthony Strazza took bronze behind Derrico with a throw of 30 feet, 4 inches.
Coach Wurtz likes what he sees. “As we enter into our championship part of the season, I expect our kids to continue to work hard as they strive for personal best performances.”
A mile up Boston Post Road, Coach Jim Yedowitz had praise for his athletes. “The boys’ team is strong once again, with a lot of talented upperclassmen. At the New Balance Armory in the city, we took on defending champion Harrison and the other league teams. We competed well, but the Huskies narrowly nipped us. Ian George (shot put), Alec Miranda (55m hurdles), Jack Ryan (3200m and 3200m relay) and Alec Howells, Jack Smith and Ryan Bird (3200m relay) all won to become league champions.
Ryan Bird had a great meet, taking silver in both the 1600- and 3200m runs. He was part of the relay win as well. Jack Ryan placed first in two events and third in another. Lots of others scored valuable points for the team.
“Up at Yale on January 16, the team of Bird, Andrew Willis, Smith, and Ryan broke the school record for the Distance Medley Relay set in 2009, said Yedowitz. “We were also hoping to run under 8:15 in the 4×800-meter relay by the end of the month.
Well, better than that, we crushed it at the New Balance Games at the Armory! Willis, Smith, Bird, and Ryan ran 8:06.1, the sixth fastest in school history, counting both winter and spring. It placed us second to Pleasantville in Westchester and third behind Arlington in Section 1.”
How about your girls, Coach?
“The girls’ team is the total opposite of the boys this year — only two seniors and a lot of new, young athletes — so this is a rebuilding year for the girls. Even so, senior Maggie McDermott is on a tear to rewrite our record books. She played soccer all fall and hit the track running…so far she’s has set new school records for the 800m, 3000m and 3200m plus a number of close attempts at the 14-year-old 1500 record, held by Juliette Kenny.” He grinned. “I think she just might get that one too.”