Port Chester boys' track team wins 2nd league championship in a row
The 4 by 100 meter relay team, made up of junior Jonathan Henry, senior Lukas Patrizio, senior Zuriel Arellano, and sophomore Josh Bonilla, won the league championship for the Port Chester boys’ track and field team on May 6 with their astounding 3:41.3 race.
By Anika Krause
After a long season of hard training, the Port Chester boys' track and field team broke through personal bests, team records, and a longstanding school tradition when they achieved their second consecutive league championship title, competing at Westlake High School last Monday, May 6. Never in the history of Port Chester track has the team won two successive league championships.
This victory was additionally exciting because of the harder league Port Chester ran in this year, facing the incredibly formidable and previously undefeated Briarcliff.
The girls, too, had an impressive meet, and a number of members from the Port Chester team will continue to the Westchester County Meet later in the month, making this the most successful meet of the season for the Port Chester track and field team.
The boys were able to defeat Briarcliff by a mere 6 points, earning 100 points to Briarcliff's 94. Nolkens Francois began this point grabbing in the boys' 110-meter hurdles, taking third in 18.9 seconds. Francois was followed closely by junior Robert Bertolacci, who placed fourth in the hurdles. Senior Lukas Patrizio earned some crucial points by placing third in the 200 meters and second in both the 400-and 800-meter races. The boys' 4 by 100 meter team also took second in their event.
Francois, a senior, was happy with his performance in his last league championship. "I feel really accomplished," he said. "We all do."
The Port Chester boys won most points in the field events. The boys swept the high jump, with junior Justin Karas taking first with a 5'6" jump, then junior Odell Alexander and sophomore Eduardo Henrique sharing second with 5'4" jumps.
Henrique was pleasantly surprised by his performance. "It was really exciting because last year, as a freshman, the events were more challenging," Henrique said. The sophomore was able to beat his personal record in the event.
Next, juniors Patrick Repaci, Odell Alexander, and Nick Repaci took first, second, and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault. Patrick Repaci's winning vault was 9'6", a personal best. Then, senior Joseph Verrastro won first place in the shot put and discus. Verrastro threw the discus more than 100 feet to achieve his victory.
Verrastro was able to win his events despite a serious knee injury in the fall. "This year taught me a lot about overcoming adversity," said the senior. "Even though I thought I had a season-ending injury earlier in the year, I was able to reprise my role as a league champion and help lead my team to victory."
The most exciting event, however, was the boys' 4 by 400 meter race. This final event was the team's last chance to glean enough points to win the meet.
"It was incredibly intense," said sophomore Josh Bonilla, the starter in the race. "I started off in first and was able to break my personal record though."
Bonilla was not the only one to break his personal record, running the 400-meter lap in just 55 seconds. Junior Jonathan Henry also broke his personal record, running a 57-second lap, followed by senior Zuriel Arellano who, despite a faulty hand-off, managed to sprint the race in 57 seconds.
"At the end of my lap, I just collapsed from exhaustion," said the senior. "Points wise, we knew this race would decide whether we won or lost."
With the final lap in the hands of senior Lukas Patrizio, victory looked doubtful as the senior trailed the leading runner by a few paces at the beginning of lap. Patrizio then sprinted the race and ran it in an astounding 52 seconds, winning the contest in a nearly photo finish. Though the whole team contributed to victory, this exciting final race secured the team a trophy and a celebratory photograph on the wall in the Port Chester High School hallway.
The girls, too, performed well. They earned third place in the meet.
Senior Aliya'h Crosdale took third place in the long jump with a 14' jump, then helped the girls' 400-meter relay team to success.
Junior Jazmin Acosta prepares for her upcoming meets after earning first place in the long jump at the league championship meet by jumping more than 17 feet.
This team, which was comprised of sophomore Addie Cruz, junior Jazmin Acosta, sophomore Kayla Tejeda, and Crosdale, took second place. Then, the girls' 1600-meter relay team, with sophomores Brooke Pietrafesa, Jennifer Siranaula, Salma Jaurez, and freshman Amanda Vitola, took third.
Jen Siranaula was pleased with her team's performance under rough conditions. "It was a challenging race," she said. "We knew some of the girls were really fast and that we had to challenge ourselves to do even better than usual."
In field events, the girls performed impressively. Junior Katherine Wojton achieved second place in the javelin and third place in the discus. Wojton was especially proud of her near 53' javelin throw.
Overall, the girls had two league champions in their events: Jazmin Acosta for the long jump and Layla Santos for the discus. Acosta, a junior, jumped 17'7", coming close to her best of 18'.
Santos, also a junior, threw 78'9" in the discus, a near personal best. Santos also earned second in the shot put.
The girls' team as a whole is looking ahead to the future. "They have improved a lot, but our core is of young girls," said coach Daniel Alvarado. "We have young hurdlers and sprinters, but they're something for the future. We hope that next year the girls can take the league, too."
The team's performance at last week's meet secured a chance for a number of athletes to compete at County Championships. The victorious boys' 4 by 400 meter relay team will continue to the County Meet, accompanied by the girls 4 by 100 team, Acosta, Pietrafesa, Santos, Wojton, Patrick Repaci, Patrizio, and Verrastro.
With only a few meets to go, the Port Chester track team's season is coming to an impressive close. With the County Meet on Saturday, May 18, approaching rapidly, the competitors are preparing to end their season with an explosive bang.
"I feel really good for the kids so far," said longtime coach Nick Mancuso. "Briarcliff is a very good team, and winning the league has been our goal all year. We accomplished history."