Call it recharging, not rebuilding. After winning county titles last season, both Longwood and Uniondale are looking to stay on top of the LI winter track scene. They may not have the exact same makeup as 2011, but don't tell those two programs that they aren't still forces with which to be reckoned.
Uniondale senior Jlan Johnson is a strong 55-meter dash runner. Johnson has the potential to be one of the team's best sprinters, according to coach Dennis Kornfield. He came in first at Tuesday's Nassau crossover meet, completing the dash in 6.88 seconds. Senior Dominic Charlot also finished in the top 10 in the event at the early-season meet, finishing in 7.07 seconds.
Senior Britt Webley is Uniondale's top hurdler. He placed second at Tuesday's Nassau crossover meet, completing the 55 meters in 8.19 seconds. Senior Donte McArthur is also a strong hurdler. He came in third at the same crossover meet. McArthur is also one of the top triple jumpers in the county.
Uniondale is hardly the only strong 55-hurdle team in Nassau. Roslyn senior Luke Pascale burst onto the scene with a victory in the 55 hurdles in last weekend's Bishop Loughlin games, posting a 7.67 in the final. Farmingdale senior Steve Royal high jumped 6 feet, 3 inches at Tuesday's Nassau crossover meet, winning that event and turning some heads. North Shore's Ben Kapuscinski (5-10)took second in the event. The senior is a dual threat. He finished fourth in the 1600-meter run at Monday's Spiked Shoe Classic.
Massapequa's Ryan Cooney will be a force in the 1000-meter run. He won the event at Monday's crossover meet in 2:41.04.
Elmont should be very competitive at the top of Nassau County Conference II. Senior Ayo Obadare is a top 300-meter dash athlete, coming in second at the Bishop Loughlin in 35.04 seconds. Obadare, along with Chad Barker, Roshane Wright, and Brandon Atkins, came in second in the 4X400 meter relay at the Bishop Loughlin, finishing in 3:25.62.
In Suffolk League I, Longwood returns senior Mike Engesser. Engesser is the defending 600- meter champion, running 1:25 in the county meet last February. Longwood figures to be strong in field events, particularly shotput. Junior Dennis Russell qualified for the state meet last season. Corey Murphy also will be key to a strong shotput unit.
Ward Melville will look to challenge Longwood at the top of Suffolk County. The Patriots return Alex Fitzgerald, who is a top 1600 and 3200 meter runner. Ward Melville also returns Lloyd Webb, Christian Welch, and Connor Christian.
Sophomore Kyle Antonucci, who runs the mile and the 1000 meters, distance runner Ryan Fan, and sprinter Peter Hsu are also expected to make an impact for coach Jerry Vessichio.
In League II, Northport features a strong crop of distance runners. Mike Brannigan, after a strong cross- country season, returns - along with senior James Dickinson. Dickinson placed in the top 15 in the 1600 meter run at the county meet last year. Junior Dan Thorne is Northport's top returning hurdler.
Smithtown West also will make noise in League II.The Bullst return senior Patrick McGuire, who is their top distance runner. Senior Devin Mirenda should handle things in the air for Smithtown West. He's exceptional in both the long jump and triple jump. Mirenda has already posted a county-best 7.90 in the 55-meter hurdles.
In the CHSAA, Kellenberg's 4X800 relay team, comprised of Jim McQuade, Randall Turner, James Malebrance and Dylan Murphy, is already impressing. The quartet ran a 7:57.6 at the CHSAA Relay Carnival on Dec.8 and followed it up with a 7:57.16 last weekend, good for first at the Bishop Loughlin.