NANUET – With it being early in the spring track and field season, a lot of kids are still working out the kinks.
Take Suffern junior Erin Byrne, for example.
During the shot put at the 48th annual Nanuet Relays at Nanuet High School on Saturday, Byrne fouled on her second attempt.
Taking advice from her more experienced teammate Briana Montgomery, Byrne kept her her body back before she exploded out and released the shot on her third attempt.
The result: a personal best of over 27 feet, beating her old record by 2 feet. Along with also setting a personal best in the discus, she and Montgomery helped Suffern claim first-place finishes in both throwing events.
“(Briana) is always on top of practice and giving me tips,” Byrne said. “I really appreciate everything she has done for me. I wouldn’t be half the thrower I am without her.”
Not bad for a kid who only got into the sport this winter, as a result of circumstance.
“Last year, coach (Jeff Dempsey) was my gym teacher, and he said I should go out for the track and field,” she said. “Ever since then, it’s been all uphill.”
Suffern won the Nanuet Relays’ girls team championship for the third straight year, as well as the combined-teams title for the second consecutive year.
“Briana was a big player indoors, she was fifth in the state meet in the shot put, so we knew what she was,” Dempsey said. “To have a counterpart there in Erin is nice; she’s a newbie, so she’s really just getting her feet wet.”
The meet, which has been run since 1968, is a unique experience for the 23 schools that participated. Team members are only allowed to be in two events, instead of the usual four.
While it does make things tricky for the coaches, who have to balance spreading out their top runners and overloading a few events, there are benefits.
“That’s how we’ve had success; other kids step up in those events and get to participate,” Nanuet head coach Larry Beckerle said. “It’s also early-season; we’re still learning what our potential is, what our best events are.”
With the Golden Knights graduating 19 members from last year’s team, that early-season experience is welcome.
The boys hurdle team, despite having lost every member from last year’s squad, managed to win the 330-meter shuttle hurdle relay with a time of 52.9 seconds.
That, along with a first-place finish in the sprint medley relay, helped spur the Golden Knights to a first-place tie with North Babylon in the boys team championship.
This was the third straight year that Nanuet claimed at least a share of the boys title. Before this run, the program had last won the event in 1977.
“We did great; it took a lot of our energy and effort to be to where we wanted to be,” said Nanuet junior Diego Miranda, one of the hurdle team members. “With the seniors last year that graduated, they taught me a lot. I have to hit the track a lot more if I want to get where the seniors were last year.”
It is a similar attitude that several others from the meet share.
“Every little thing, you need to work on, you have to keep pushing on,” she said. “I really hope to get into the 100s in the discus. I don’t know how possible that is, but time will tell.”