Flashback Friday: Sammy Watson Captures 1K at 2016 States

The last indoor States meet for Sammy Watson in 2016 during her junior year was a memorable one for her and the Rush-Henrietta team. The Royal Comets' sophomore sprints star Lanae-Tava Thomas defended her 55m title in a ferocious battle with St. Anthony's Halle Hazzard and then collected her first States long jump crown, winning by more than a foot and a half. Watson was also busy as she defeated reigning champ Kamryn McIntosh of Suffern in the 600m and teamed up with Thomas, Tori Thompson, and Stephanie Nwachi to win the 4x200m relay near the end of the day. Watson's action began in the 1000m, an event that she had won in 2015 in a battle of sophomores over Bronxville's Kaitlin Ryan in a time of 2:53.33.

For two years in a row, Watson had used the Armory Track Invitational held in late January or early February to set national class records in the 1K of 2:47.27 in 2015 and 2:45.32 in 2016, which was the second fastest ever by an NY athlete trailing only Mary Cain's 2:35.80 in 2014 as a pro. Watson would run undefeated in the 1K in HS action in her last three years at Rush-Henrietta from 2015 to 2017. Her last defeat in the event would be as a freshman in 2014 in the race won at States by Tappan Zee's Erin Jaskot. Her best time in the event would come in her senior season when she ran a 2:40.72 while finishing 4th among the pros at the USATF championship.

So though there was no expectation for an upset in the 1000m seeded race or even for a particularly fast time on Barton Hall's old track at Cornell, everyone knew that there would be a great performance coming up. Watson's top pursuers were two juniors from the Section 1 State Qualifier. Kaitlin Ryan's only loss in the 1K on the year had come in a 2nd to Watson at the Armory Track Invitational, and she would capture the States title as a senior in 2017. Third seeded was North Rockland's Alex Harris, the 2015 winner of the 2K steeplechase at Nationals, a title she would get again in 2017 in her senior year. Also in the mix was Saratoga's Amelia Mahoney, whose only loss on the year had come against top regional competition at the Ocean Breeze Freedom Games.

Eleven entrants lined up for a box start that included Watson and Ryan in the inner alley of seven runners and Harris and Mahoney among the quartet in the outer alley. At the gun the group on the outside took it out much faster than the runners on the inside and hit the 100-meter cut-in spot more than 10 meters in the lead as they completed the first 200 meters with Harris and Mahoney on the lead and Watson and Ryan in 5th and 6th. The two top seeds worked their way up and took the lead at the end of the second lap. Watson gradually extended her lead over Ryan, who tried to hang on through the first 700 meters. By the bell Watson was striding away and on her way to a win by more than 2 1/2 seconds at 2:51.33. Harris made a charge over the last 100 meters to flash by Ryan at the finish. Mahoney finished up 4th and Meg Tuthill of Bishop McGann-Mercy of Section 11 was 5th.

A week later at New Balance Indoor Nationals, Watson won the 800m championship with 2:05.11 time and also contributed a 2:07.94 anchor leg to Rush Henrietta's winning sprint medley relay team. Harris ran the opening 1200m leg on North Rockland's champion distance medley relay and also ran on the 4x800m squad that finished 2nd to the States and Nationals champ Mamaroneck. Mahoney ran the 1200m leg for Saratoga as the Blue Streaks took 4th in the DMR.