By Christopher Hunt
SYRACUSE – You would think he’d be excited. You would think there would be some sort of celebration. A smile maybe. But Alex Hatz of Fayetteville-Manilus walked off the track, as calmly as he entered, with just a few nods to the people than were in awe of him in that moment.
It could be that he is looking ahead to the next challenge or that he expects even more from himself. But within a machine-like cadence and unwavering pace, Hatz vaulted himself as the fastest high school milers in state history. He broke the 1,600-meter meet record at the New York State championships in 4:06.11, edging the record by three-hundreds of a second set by legendary Mike Stahr of Carmel in 1983. His time is the third-fastest in the country this season.
“I felt good,” Hatz said. “I’m a little disappointed. I wanted that 4:04.”
Hatz led from the start, with only North Rockland’s Chris Carrington giving chase to two laps before Hatz dropped a 61-second third lap and closed in 59 seconds.
“I decided I wanted to go all-out,” he said. “I definitely wanted to win but I would have just liked to run faster. I could have dealt with a loss as long as I ran faster.”
The junior showed no signs of discomfort in the race even though he dropped a desk on his foot at school earlier in the week. He had to have the blood drained from his big toe and even after the race the toenail was discolored. He’ll be racing next weekend in the full mile at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. Until then, everything else is simply a step forward.
“Next week if I win, then I’ll be satisfied,” he said.
If anyone is building momentum headed into the national championship it’s Michael Kiley of Chaminade. Kiley blew open the 3,000 steeplechase after three laps and put the race out of contact, only he didn’t know it.
“I thought they were challenging me,” Kiley said. “Every time I went around I could hear the crowd saying ‘Let’s go Alex,’ so I thought that Dier (of Honeoye Falls-Lima) was right on me.”
Kiley won his first state championship in 9:13.92. The time is the fastest time in the country this season and a 15-second personal best for Kiley, who only started competing in the steeplechase this season.
“I wasn’t worried about time at all,” he said. “I just wanted to win. That was the goal. … Before the race, I’ve never been so nervous in my life. I never had a shot to win anything at states before. This is just an amazing feeling.”
As decisive as Kiley’s win was, the same could be said for Sachem North senior Anthony Quezada. He only raced in the 100 meters because Middle Country’s Miles Lewis scratched from the event to focus on the 200. Quezada turned that opportunity into a state federation championship in a personal-best 10.71. That came after he won the Division I title in 10.80.
“I’m glad I had a second chance,” Quezada said. I had a second chance and that’s all I needed.”
Quezada was an improbable winner coming in to the meet but after he ran 10.76 in the Division I trials, he quickly became the favorite. Quezada was about even with North Babylon’s Befrantz Charles and Donald Williams of Midwood once they stormed out the starting blocks but Quezada pulled away in the second half of the race.
“I was just looked at the finish line,” Quezada said. “I was thinking about the finish even before we started. The line just kept getting closer and closer. I just wanted to get there first.”
No one could have predicted Quezada’s win but the finish in the 400 championship was even more surprising considering Marcellus junior Mike Querica’s 47.83 win in Division II Friday. But when the runners came off the final turn in the federation final, Sheepshead Bay’s John Thomas had built a lead and Querica was falling apart in the home stretch.
A few of the runners complained that their race was switched win the pentathlon 800 meters, which moved the race up almost a half hour and some said they hadn’t completely warmed up. Querica was the last person to the start line only after noticing that the girls final was on the track. He said his legs locked up in the last 200.
But the first 200 meters belonged to Thomas, who blasted around the first curve and forced the field to chase his torrid pace. Even Thomas could barely hold the pace and laid face first on the track just after the finish.
“Our plan was to burn them out,” Sheepshead Bay coach John Padula said. “No one in that race has speed like him.”
Thomas also gave Sheepshead Bay a lead in the 4x100 tearing around the turn on the third leg and Richmond Ahadzi, Paul Fyffe, Thomas and Naquan Alexander won the event in 42.05. They ran without seniors Darryl Bradshaw, who sat out the meet with a minor hip injury and Ayo Isijola, who ended his season two weeks ago with a hamstring injury.
In the 800 championship, Great Neck South’s Terrance Livingston promised a fast race and challenged the field to follow and they all came through. Livingston took out the pace and Zavior Brown of Pine Bush latched on at first. Then Brown fell back, only to come charging back at Livingston with 200 meters left and pulled even with 80 meters to go.
“I was just like, alright, let’s see who dies first,” Livingston said.
nce Livingston felt Brown behind, he made another hard surge to win in 1:50.32, the fourth-fastest time in the country this season. Brown finished second in 1:50.69, the sixth-fastest time.
“I’m only a tad disappointed,” Livingston said. “I wanted to go 1:49. I knew I had the speed and the power. I just need the race. I’m happy.”
Brown said: “I tried to make a move. I knew if I couldn’t beat him I was going to give him a race. I knew he would go out hard. Today, I just decided I’d give him the race of his life. He just held me off.”
Edison Tech’s Brett Harrington won the Division I final in 14.36 then returned to win the federation final in a wind-aided 14.10. Liverpool continued a stellar season, winning the 4x800 championship in a Section 3 record 7:44.46 with Zavon Watkins, Chris Clemons, Alex Wilke and Colin Savage. They led throughout but Wilke dropped Pine Bush’s third leg and Savage added the punctuation.
“I told the team that if they got me the lead I wouldn’t lose it,” Savage said. “We expected them to be with us the whole way but we knew we could win.”
Newburgh also salvaged a loss in the Division I 4x400 race to win the state federation title in 3:17.17 with Robert Graham, Robert Robertson, Fred Locklary and Randy Patterson.
Liverpool, NY - 4x800m State Champions
Newburgh, NY - boys 4x400m State Champions
Eric Fontanez (Hilton, NY) - HIgh Jump state champion