By Christopher Hunt
all photos by Tim Fulton
ITHACA – Fayetteville Manilus junior Alex Hatz had all the looks off an athlete racing against himself. The win didn’t quite become a secondary matter but if he ran the way he knew he could then victory came with the package.
“I wanted to lead from the gun,” he said. “I wanted to be aggressive.”
Fresh off setting the national junior class record in the 1,000, Hatz won his first indoor track state championship, winning the 1,000 in 2:27.86. He said the national junior class record last Saturday at the Section 3 state qualifier in 2:26.44.
“I wanted to run 2:25,” Hatz said. “Last week when I ran 2:26, I went out in 31 (for the first 200 meters). This time I went out in 29 but I slowed a little bit on the next lap and that hurt me.”
It never hurts his chances to win as Marcellus senior Chris Stogsdill and Tyler Stewart of Colonie never put much pressure on Hatz until Stogsdill made a surge with 200 left. But Hatz dropped them both on the bell lap.
“Winning the state title in cross country was pretty cool,” Hatz said. “It’s been a goal to win a state title. I just want to win as many as I can.”
The 300 final witnessed the same sort of dominance with Jermaine Brown of Medgar Evers cruising unchallenged to his first state championship in 34.42. Brown showed no ill-effects from the cramp he suffered in his left hamstring during the race while winning the 300 at the PSAL championships last week.
“I wanted to stay relaxed,” Brown said. “I didn’t’ want to push it but (my hamstring) felt good. “
Brown didn’t launch off the first curve like he normally would but when he saw Sheepshead Bay’s John Thomas closing headed into the home stretch he switched gears.
“I looked over and saw JT and said ‘Oh no, now I have to go,’” he said. Thomas finished second in 34.96.
The 55-meter dash turned into a much closer race, enough so that no one knew who won a couple minutes after they crossed the finish. But Middle Country senior Miles Lewis earned the win in 6.40, just a hundredth of a second ahead of North Babylon’s Charles Berfrantz.
“I really thought he took the win,” Lewis said. “I tilted my head (at the finish line), I leaned. I never lean.”
But the hard dip at the finish is what claimed the state title for Lewis, who led a Section 11 swept in the 55 with Berfrantz second and Anthony Quezada of Sachem North third in 6.48.
“I had my doubts coming in because every time I’ve run three rounds, I’ll run well in the first two rounds and then something goes wrong in the third,” said Lewis, who ran faster in each round. “I knew I had a chance but I knew that everything had to go right.”
Sheepshead Bay’s Darryl Bradshaw won a tight finish in the 55 hurdles as well. Nathaniel Mercer of Uniondale led after two hurdles but hit the third, as did top-seed Claudio Delli Carpini and Fordham Prep’s Wayne Seaton. That’s when Bradshaw snatched the lead and never relented.
“The whole field hit the third hurdle,” Bradshaw said, “so just had to push through those fourth and fifth hurdles. (Coach John) Padula told me – and it’s from (Brooklyn Tech coach Phil) Zodda – ‘Always save something for when the big bear jumps on your back.’ It just means to just always have another gear at the end in case something happens.”
That’s what Bobby Andrews of Shoreham-Wading River did in the 3,200. He latched on to Sean Curry of Grimes/Ludden until the race evolved into a two-man contest with less than a mile left. Andrews started to push the pace with two laps to go, all the while casually glancing over his shoulder to gauge the chase pack. Then both runners made a mad dash down the back straightaway. Curry couldn’t hold pace and Andrews pulled away.
“It actually worked out perfectly,” the N.C. State-bound Andrews said. “It went out at a good pace and stayed pretty even. We both kicked hard.”
Andrews also returned to win the public school state title in the 1,600 in 4:20.34, placing second overall.
“This is amazing,” he said. “This has been my goal, to win a state title, since my freshman year.”
Jordan Hamm of Canisus won the state federation title in the 1,600 in 4:19.34 after North Rockland’s Chris Carrington was disqualified after the race for a lane violation. Officials ruled that Carrington, who started on the top of the turn in the waterfall start, took three consecutive steps inside of the lane his group was relegated to before they were allow to merge inside after the first 150 meters.
Carrington was informed of the DQ after he outkicked Hamm on the last lap.
Another glaring result was in the 600 meters. Pine Bush’s Zavior Brown won an impressive race in 1:20.67. But Brown made his move to the front after the state record-holder Terrance Livingston of Great Neck South turned his right ankle 250 meters into the race.
“I was right behind him when he dropped out,” Brown said. “I thought, ‘OK, there’s no reason why I can’t win this race with ease now.’”
Brown did take over the front and held off a late surge by Nazareth senior Sean Atkinson to win.
“I’ve been looking for competition,” Brown said. “I haven’t been able to get competition in Section 9. This is what I’ve been training for all year.”
In the 4x400, Newburgh avenged last year’s close loss to easily win the state title in 3:24.58 with Robert Graham, Akino Morgan, Fred Locklary and Randy Patterson. “We just made sure we got it done this year,” Locklary said.
The other relays provided some upsets. Ramapo’s Mike Abelard, Ryan Whitley, Dozie Ezemma and Chidi Ezemma upset Sheepshead Bay in the 4x200. Chidi Ezemma and and Sheephead Bay’s Paul Fyffe brushed each other on the last curve until Fyffe broke his stride and Ezemma pulled away, leading Ramapo to victory in 1:31.05. Fyffe said that Ezemma squeezed him out of position. Ezemma contended that they battled for position and he won.
“He gave me a little shove and I gave him a little shove,” Chidi Ezemma said. “This is a great win for us.”
Warwick Valley’s Dan Ramirez (2:01.6), Dave DeWan (2:01.0), Tim Luthin (1:59.7) and Charlie Armand (2:02.7) won the 4x800 relay in 8:05.20. Half Hollow Hills West finished second in 8:05.73 and favorite Fordham Prep finished third in 8:06.58.
“This really means a lot,” Armand said. “It just feels really good to beat all those teams.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.