Impressive spring for Long Beach girls' track


A late-season kick continued for Long Beach at the Nassau Class AAA girls’ track and field spring championships.

A week after posting six All-Division finishes at the May 15 Division 2A championships at Mepham – which included first-place personal bests by juniors Kayla Carney (400-meter hurdles) and Mikella Gray (pole vault) – Long Beach, led by Gray, a school-record-setting Carney, and senior co-captain Jewel Jones, kept up its push with three All-County showings May 22 at MacArthur.

“The team did very well,” said Long Beach coach Meg Grahlfs, whose team – which finished eighth overall among 18 schools at the county meet – went 10-2 in regular-season meets to rank second in Division 2A. “They actually were very impressive this season, considering we graduated 12 seniors from last year.”

Gray – a county indoor runner-up this past winter and two-time All-Division vaulter in spring – matched her winning mark from the division meet, a career-best nine feet, to take her first county title in the pole vault. Gray had tied county indoor champion teammate Kirsten Lilly’s winning 8-foot-6 vault at the Class A winter championships in February, but finished runner-up behind Lilly at the meet due to attempts. Roles reversed this spring, as Lilly also vaulted a personal-best nine feet at county, but wound up placing fourth on tries as Gray took her turn atop the podium.

“Hard work and dedication to really understanding the event helped [Gray] improve,” Grahlfs said. “And putting a lot of time and effort into practicing.”

Carney, who finished All-Division for a second straight spring in both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles – clocking a personal-best 1:09.63 to take first-place in the latter at division – set a program record in the 100 hurdles placing second at the county championships in 15.58 seconds, while Jones – All-Division this spring in the 800-meter run – finished less than seven seconds off her all-time mark to set a season-best in the 2000 steeplechase, placing second in the county meet in 7:56.22.

"Kayla had a really strong start out of the blocks and ran a very clean race, a really great race” Grahlfs said. “She was determined to have her personal best, and then she ended up breaking the school record.”

“Jewel had a great performance and she’s just a really strong athlete,” Grahlfs said of the former county indoor 1000-meter champion Jones, who is bound for SUNY Cortland. “She has won a lot of awards in her four seasons, and she’s just fun to coach, always smiling and a great team leader and senior captain.”

Alongside co-captain Akya Alexander and fellow senior Liel Sagy, Carney and Jones also were part of the Marines’ 4x400-meter relay, which again finished All-Division this spring to extend a long streak. “Our 4-by-400 relay scored a lot of points in league meets and also in divisions, which really helped the team,” Grahlfs said.

Carney will compete in the 100 high and 400 intermediate hurdles at this week’s state qualifier at North Shore, alongside Jones in the 2000 steeplechase, and Gray and Lilly in the pole vault.