Hunter leads Clarke to strong finish


Christian Hunter’s trio of titles at last month’s Conference 5 championships served notice the Clarke boys’ track and field vet was a triple threat for All-County honors.  

Capping an impressive winter, Hunter made good on a pair of those threats at the Nassau Class C championships Feb. 7 at St. Anthony’s High School. The Rams senior took his first indoor title winning the long jump at 19 feet, 8.5 inches and was runner-up at county for a second straight season in the 55-meter hurdles (8.27 seconds).

Backed by All-County teammates Ryan Melkum (second place in the 600 meters and 4x400-meter relay; third place in the 4x800) and Zachary Small (third place in the weight throw), Hunter – Conference 5’s winter champ in the long jump, high jump and 55 hurdles – helped Clarke seize a second-place team finish at county.

“Christian is a natural-born athlete,” said Clarke coach Brian Doxey. “He’s been able to handle lots of different events for us this season. Wherever I put him, I know he’s going to score points. And he came through for us again at the county championships.”

The only Ram to earn All-County recognition in three events, Melkum was two tenths of a second back of Wheatley’s Nicholas Ramalhete in the 600 final, finishing second-place in 1:30.24. Melkum, a junior, ran anchor to finish Clarke’s runner-up 4x400 relay in 3:45.25, two seconds back of winner Friends Academy. He then moved to lead-off helping Clarke secure third in the 4x800.

“I saw a lot of strength and progress toward the end of the season,” Doxey said of Melkum, who took third in the 600 meters at the Conference 5 championships in January.

“Overall, I think Ryan took the next step this year in his running career,” added Doxey. “He was good last year, but this year he was great. And that’s going to continue in spring as well.”

Taking up the weight throw just this past fall, Small, too, closed the season strong. The Clarke sophomore surpassed his personal record – set at the conference championships – by more than seven feet, logging a new best throw of 41 feet, five inches to cinch a third-place finish at county.

“It was amazing to see [Small’s] progress throughout the fall and the winter,” Doxey said. “And then, finally, to have that huge throw at the final meet. He really worked hard and came up huge for us.”

“Every single person on this team did their part,” added Doxey, whose team finished just behind this winter’s county champ Oyster Bay. “We always would like to win the whole thing. But as far as execution, this team exceeded what their expectations were, and what other people’s expectations were. They worked their butts off all season. They came out and did what they had to do.”

In order, Platonas Demosthenous, Ethan He and Carl Themistocle preceded Melkum on Clarke’s 4x400 relay; while Nicholas Lindo, Constantine Pozapalidis and Noah Saenz followed Melkum on the 4x800 – with All-County honors accruing to each squad member.

“Everyone on this team should be extremely proud of how they performed and how they excelled this year,” Doxey said. “I certainly am.”