When inclement weather forced the Division 2A track and field championships to head into an unprecedented third day, crosstown rivals Mepham and Calhoun, separated by just 1.5 points atop the scoreboard, met at Calhoun High School on May 17 for the remaining, decisive event – the pole vault.
With a contingent of enthusiastic supporters in attendance to watch the showdown, senior Katelyn Goodman cleared seven feet to win first place and earn her team a coveted 10 points. Her teammates followed in second and fifth, giving the Lady Colts enough points to surpass Mepham to win the division championship in dramatic fashion, 136.5 points to 128.
“It was almost like a football game atmosphere,” Calhoun coach Joseph Migliano said. “Anytime one of our girls would clear, there was an uproar like it was a touchdown. It was really cool to see the school come out to support.”
It was the culmination of a season that Migliano said caught him by a surprise. With early season injury woes and a roster mostly full of freshmen and sophomores – plus a couple of eighth graders – he said his young players stepped up beyond their years to fill the void.
Leading that charge was sophomore Elizabeth Tuzzolo, who Migliano hailed as the unofficial M.V.P. She took first place in the division meet in the 400-meters and third place in the 400-hurdles.
Goodman, the team’s vocal leader, also took first in the triple jump and third in the long jump. Juniors Jamie Campbell and Victoria Unz won division titles in the shotput and discus, respectively.
The team was dealt adversity early in the season when their star senior, Paige Sfiroudis, fresh off leading the girls’ winter track team to its first division title in school history, had her spring season cut short with an injury, forcing her to the sidelines where she became an emotional leader all season long.
But it was the pace at which his young athletes raised their game in her absence, Migliano said, that caught him off guard. Eighth grader Julianna Raza, for instance, will compete in the national championships in North Carolina later this month in the mile, after she ran a personal best 5 minutes and 11 seconds this spring.
Alyssa Crews, also in eighth grade, set personal highs in middle distance races – “She’s going to be exciting for the next couple of years,” said Migliano – and freshman Faith Dwyer trimmed nearly a full minute off her mile time from the start of the season.
“They shocked me a little bit,” Migliano said of his athletes. “I’m rarely at loss for word, but they left me a little speechless. Despite injuries … they all had to rally together and, being so young, we had eighth and ninth graders performing like they’ve been there before.”
Calhoun will also send a medley relay to the nationals, comprising Goodman, Tuzzolo, freshman Kristina Losquadro, sophomore Lisa José.
Following this year’s emergence, Migliano said the goal is to win a county championship within the next two years. “Our future is bright,” he said. “With the work ethic we have and the young kids we have, that’s something we can definitely do.”