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The Staten Island Runner

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June 10, 2000

Let it Rip!

by Mike Weiner

Volume 5 

Mixed Memories at New Dorp’s Track & Field Facility 

So I’m driving back to the office last week and decide to stop at the old Alma Mata, New Dorp High School.   Brought back a lot of memories, as I haven’t been there in quite a while. Everything is locked, as vandalism has reared its ugly head here all to often, so I can't knock that. I am able to squeeze thru the fence by Miller Field just like the old days, except there used to be a nice water fountain there which was destroyed by those same vandals. I start at what used to be the Shot Put circle, with my name still etched in the cement from back in ’85. I know it was wrong, but I figured someday I would come back to see if it was still there. Unfortunately, I wish it had been worn away from throwers using the circle over the past 15 years. I do a couple of pretend throws and say to myself “man! If I only knew then what I know now, I could have thrown so much farther” :-) Such is the story of life, right?? I could tell there haven’t been throwers here in a while, because where the throws land was as green and grassy as ever. I’m remembering the Rich Oetting’s (St.Peters) and the Charlie Goffredo’s (ND) throwing here often back in the days. There used to be huge craters in this whole area from the shots landing. Imagine that, 55-60’ throwers throwing here at New Dorp.  I make my way over to the High Jump area and see that the surface is badly cracked and off level. I remember Bill Jankunis coming down a few times to work with Bernard Ang (ND), who was a 6’6” High Jumper. To see a guy like this was so inspiring to a high school athlete. I jog around the track towards the backstretch and realize that I'm running on a new track. Great for the current team, because just recently that old track was about as bad as could possibly be. So I jog over to the Long Jump Pit, but was saddened by what I saw. I could barely recognize the pit, because the sand was basically covered with grass and weeds. The runway looks like glass and rocks, with the toe boards depleted and rotted. This sand pit hasn’t been used in a while, at least not by any athletes or humans. It actually looks more like a cat box.  : - )   My memories here are of  the great Vernon Turner(Curtis) of football fame, coming out to the track and just jumping ~23’ no problem, amazing athlete!!. Jog over to the Pole Vault runway which brings back some great memories of work and pain. The only wear and tear on this runway is from the football teams sled, which is parked here. I do a few pull-ups on the goal posts that I used to kick a hundred balls a day thru, I’m remembering Andrew Criscione returning 2 of my punts into this very end zone for touchdowns as Farrell crushed us that day. I move over to the starting marks for the sprints, and remember the battles between Vernon Turner (Curtis) and Ralph Desantis (PR) in the 100m, with a lot of wars of words between them. I’m remembering Andre Ruth (McKee) chasing Jankunis’ 110HH record of 14.1, but narrowly missing running 14.2. I’m remembering how alive this facility used to be. The Empire State Games Trials were held here. The NYC T&F Championships were held here, with the PSAL’s Marty Lewis’ voice blasting down to Hylan Blvd. The Island Championship’s were held here.  The Big Apple Games were here during the summer. I don’t know if those are still happening. God I feel old! I’m just witnessing the results of time and change. Things have moved to |Sea, Farrell, and Tottenville recently, with their fine facilities.  Now, its just another facility, which is closed promptly after kids leave. I didn’t see A Shot Putter refining his technique, or a LJ working on their steps, or a Vaulter finishing a day of Vaulting, or a HJ working on the approach.  It did bring back a lot of great memories being on the track, but more sadness for what I wish was happening with the sport at the school. 

New Dorp Track & Field Program 

Since I’m talking about the facility, id might as well share some thoughts I have of recently attending their awards ceremony. It was great to be at the school, to see Mr.Welsh, Bob Andrews, Bill Jankunis, and others. It was nice to see the kids on the teams. I saw a program with coaches who seem to love what their doing. I saw coaches who made it their business to show the athletes that they were appreciated, and to acknowledge the hard work that was put in.  I saw kids who are having fun. I saw kids who believe in their coaches. I saw kids who have pride in their school.  I also heard a coach (Jeff Benjamin) talking too much about insurance, lawsuits, and money to me when we were discussing the program. He was mentioning that you can't do this, or you can't do that, because of insurance. We can't get athletes out because they can't afford uniforms. What the hell is going on ???  Are we that bad off ??  An athlete can't compete on the team and possibly excel and go on to a Track & Field Scholarship, because they can't afford a uniform ?  I have a hard time accepting this. We are talking about affecting kids lives. If we are not helping kids to be all they can be because of fear of being sued, then these programs will be crap forever, and the kids are the ones who suffer! This is a shame! Maybe I’m a freak, but I love to help kids. I’m with coaching or helping kids the same way I am with flea markets or yard sales. If I get to the flea market an hour late, I’m pissed all day, because I feel I missed some good bargains, and i'll never have a chance to buy them. When it comes to helping kids, I get depressed when I can't help athletes that I see that I know can be better athletes. I realize that I can have a positive effect on kid’s lives. Any coach or teacher has this power, but if we're holding back or limiting training because of fear of lawsuits, etc. then the kids are getting hurt. This is what I heard that night, and I refuse to accept it. I don’t think its fair to the kids. I also see a program that lacks any field events. I don’t knock the coaches for this, because I realize that this is a problem at a lot of schools. But when I offered to work with any athletes at the school, the reply was “No thanks, maybe next year though”. That told me all I needed to hear that night. That’s when I knew its not just about the money or insurance or the type of kids in the school. Anyhow, Jeff is a nice guy who believes in what he s doing, and I wish him luck. I want to see the team succeed. My blood is Green and Gold you know!! 

SI Track & Field Records 

When I lived in Ft.Lauderdale, I went to a high school that had a great Track & Field coach. He was my electronics teacher, and he used to give us extra credit if we helped bring out the hurdles and pits, etc. before our class ended. At the time I thought it was cool to be able to jump on the mats like a monkey. I thought Track & Field was for weirdoes, because I played football. During my time in the school, I saw the big sign on the wall in the gym everyday. It was the schools Track & Field records. I didn’t know what any of the events were then, but I eventually learned them, and liked to see the best scores. I think that was a great idea, which I have never seen around this area. Seeing those records gave athletes something to look at everyday. A goal to shoot for. I always wanted my name up there someday, after I learned the sport. I think Schools should do this to push athletes to strive higher. It also gets people interested as well. Also, recently there has been some discussion about all-time records for SI.  Is there anyone out there with any kinds of lists for this. I remember competing in the state meets, you could look thru there and see what islanders were on the list. But it would be great to create or combine these lists to create a master record list to be maintained from here on in. I have a vision of the SI Track & Field Records on the wall in the new Facility when it arrives. I will donate the money for it if I have to. 


Yes!!  You got to love this… For years people have been talking about this. It finally has become a reality. And like Bobby O was saying, there’s a long road  to travel, but at least now there’s a building on that map. Although I'm ecstatic about the facility, I have some concerns. If we're doing this finally, I hope we try as hard as we can to do it as right as we can. Meaning; trying to have areas for SP,HJ,LJ, maybe PV, and definitely hurdles. If we're going to do this, go the extra 20% and do it right. I will be glad to walk door to door and ask for donations to fund the additional events. The chances of getting another facility like this wont happen for another lifetime, so lets push for the whole nine!! 

Ryan Maxwell 

Great to see Ryan Back in action locally. What a nice kid! He’s one of the few success stories of athletes that usually don’t compete in Track & Field because of other sports. He was a point guard for Farrell at the time and was leaning towards that sport. Coaches Bob Marano and Bob Minall worked hard with him to make him realize the running talents he had, and that he’d probably go farther with Track & Field. They didn’t talk him into it, saying that Track & Field was a better sport, because if they thought he had much more potential in basketball they would have pushed him in that direction. You have to be honest with athletes, and they were. Anyhow, he listened, and blossomed into one of the greatest SI runners. Because of some injuries, he probably didn’t reach as far as he would have liked to, but he still had a fine career at Notre Dame. Congratulations Ryan, and we hope to see you running locally more in the future.. Did I mention he was a nice kid?? 


I recently saw someone recommending a meet of this nature, but then another person knocking him about it. I honestly think it’s a great idea. Being at the Empire State Games for many years watching the masters competing, I feel like it would be a good thing. There’s a lot of tradition on Staten Island. I disagree with the fellow when he said people are old and working and have a life, so it’s a bad idea. I think there’s a lot of people who would like to compete in it. It would even be motivation for people to get into a little shape to look even remotely respectable. I believe if the meet was run correctly, and if the word was spread enough, that it would be a successful event. A meet that could become an annual meet. The meet could include a few H.S events as well. I like the idea, because I know several older athletes who would compete. The meet would be more of a fun gathering of former T&F people. I’m seeing a nice meet, and then a nice after meet kind of picnic or something. I know it sounds cheesy, but I think it would be a great opportunity for people to meet other former and current athletes and people they probably haven’t seen in a long time. I am going to move forward with this. Maybe I’ll even harass Tom Cuffe for his facility. Please talk to me through email if you think this idea sucks or is good.. 


So Who will be the 1st Big athlete to go down for Testing Positive for Drugs before the Olympic Games ??

Will it be a shot putter ? A Sprinter ? Weightlifting ??   Stay tuned and see! 


You know I say forget about SHAQ and his basketball career, he could have been an awesome discus thrower!! What were his HS coaches thinking?? He could have been making thousands at the overseas track meets! :-)  He even could have made his own commercials asking people why they don’t support Track & Field like they should.... 


Monique Henderson!  The HS Junior will be competing in the Olympic Trials this year. Just recently she pulled a triple of  11.88, 23.70, 51.31. This is incredible! She is the next Marion Jones, even though Marion hasn’t even won any Olympic Medals yet. This kid will be big, barring injuries. 

Stacie Manuel, a sophomore from Willmar (Minn.) High School, who cleared 13 feet, 4 inches to set an apparent high school national record. Unbelievable! A sophomore girl  in HS jumping 13’ 4” … 

This local NJ freshmen recently had an impressive day of competing with a 17’ 6” LJ, then a 25.9 200m, then a 15.1 hurdles mark, then a 64 second 400 hurdles. The most incredible thing about this freshmen ?? She’s a girl!!!

That’s right Kim Henry from Old Bridge HS, remember the name!  A freshmen girl with these numbers is again incredible! She will be a good one!


If you like to watch Track & Field on TV, check the listings in June, because there are about 4 different meets scheduled to be on during the month. (CBS). Meets are usually on Saturday 3pm or 5pm. 

Hope you enjoyed reading these columns 

I realize that this site is really geared towards runners in general. Whether road running or cross country or distance track events. I thought I would bring some T&F feel to it, but the fact remains, the following of the site is what it is. I won't be writing anymore of these here. I think I will create a page just for field events, which is what I'm really about. I'm not a runner, and never claim to be one. When I used to run the 1500m in the decathlon, I felt like I was running a marathon. :-)  I was such a bad runner that after indoors were over, I took up the discus and javelin, because I didn’t have enough speed to run the 110HH.  :-)  Anyhow, I think I can help athletes in any field events, and the hurdles, so I will probably throw a page up for that. I guess I can throw a link on this site to it anyway. Keep supporting this site, because it’s good. Keep supporting Track & Field because its great!!  If anyone knows of any field athletes who need help or don’t have coaches, I would be glad to help anyone, mostly anytime.  Just email me!!

Take Care and always Let It Rip when competing!!