By MIKE SMITH
On Feb. 1, Harrison’s boys track team was able to put a nice cap on a terrific season as the Huskies took first place at the Westchester County Championship meet at the Armory in New York City.
The county win, a first in school history, proved to be yet another milestone reached by a Harrison program that has been on the rise in the last decade.
For Harrison, one of the smaller schools in the competition, winning the county championships long seemed like a pipe-dream, despite the dominance of the Huskies teams within their league over the last seven years.
This year, though, the Hus-kies boys tallied 14 personal records on the day to compete with far larger schools including White Plains, Lakeland/Panas and Mount Vernon. Senior captain Ben Adler said for Harrison’s veterans, the win was four years in the making.
“When I was a freshman, we had a great team and we didn’t win it then,” Adler said. “So we almost looked at like ‘How can we ever win it?’ We knew it was going to be a tough thing to accomplish, but this showed what working as a team and having a positive mentality can mean.”
For a Huskies team that won just one event–Brandon Merluccio took the shot put with a 45-5.25 toss over teammate Jeremy Altamuro–the win was a testament to the sheer depth of the underdog squad. The Huskies were buoyed by the performance of Altamuro, Adler, who placed second in the 1000m run; Deven Jacobi, who placed second and third in the triple jump and long jump respectively; and strong performances by the 4 x 200m and 4 x 400m relay teams.
“This was a special experience,” Altamuro said. “We’re not the biggest school and we needed everyone to come up big in the right spots, which is what we did.”
Despite being a smaller school, Harrison came into the m-eet with high expectations, Altamuro said.
“We knew this was a good team,” the senior captain said. “We were confident coming in that we could do pretty well.”
According to Adler, the entire season, from the first meet on, was centered around getting the squad ready for the county meet, and the high number of personal bests was a result of each athlete’s tenacity as well as the long-term vision of the Huskies’ coaching staff.
“I think we’ve got the best coaching staff in the county, if not the larger surrounding area,” Adler said. “Their idea going in is that we had taken care of the physical work getting ready for this point, so it was on us to be prepared mentally. You didn’t see anyone come into the meet saying they didn’t feel great or weren’t ready to go.”
Harrison’s girls, while not earning a county championship of their own, had a strong showing as well, finishing thirteenth behind some amazing performances, including Rula Samad’s school-record setting mark in the triple jump.
“The team we have, everyone is behind each other no matter what race it is, or what seed someone has,” Altamuro said. “Having your team cheer you on, that helps you make that throw just a little farther, it helps you run that much faster.”