By Christopher Hunt
Brie Roller didn’t waste time when she shot off the starting line. She didn’t back off on the first lap or quite settle in when the Lakeland-Panas junior breezed into the second lap of the 600 meters.
“My goal is to make it to the 400,” she said. “After that I just want to hold on in the last lap.”
Roller won the 600 meters at the Section 1 Kickoff 1 Saturday in 1:37.8. She led wire-to-wire, went through the first two laps in 62 seconds and held off the field in the home stretch. Roller said she will focus on the 600 this season, she finished eighth in the event at the state meet last year. But Roller finished two seconds faster than she did at the Kickoff meet last year.
“Basically this meet is like a marker to tell me where I am,” she said. “I’m already ahead of where I was last year.”
Lakeland-Panas managed to sweep the girls and boys 600 after Roller’s win, since George Peart won the boys event in 1:25.4. Peart said a former teammate advised him to sit back in the first two laps and floor it for the bell lap. Peart said it was the first time he decided to use the strategy.
He almost looked out of the race with 150 remaining and chopped down Brewster’s Shawn McDonald’s lead on the backstretch then took control on the last curve.
“The second I got to that bell lap, I saw him slowing down and my heart was beating so fast,” Peart said. “I just got so much adrenaline.”
It looked the same for Spring Valley’s Geraldo Cetoute. He outlasted Anthony Yost of Suffern in the home stretch to win the 300 in 36.20, a fast time to start the season. Cetoute said he was already thinking about the state meet.
“I started feeling my legs cramping and I was just trying to pump my arms,” Cetoute said. “I was just thinking about states. Last year, I spent the whole year running behind Ramapo. It’s my turn now. This is my year.”
Suffern standout Jen Clayton cruised to an easy win the girls 300 in 40.61. Roller finished second in 42.05.
Yorktown’s Manu Kumar won the boys 1,000 in 2:35.7. North Rockland sophomore Olivia Ohanian the girls 1,000 in 3:11.8. She outkicked Tara Nuccitelli of Suffern, who had led the race the entire way.
“I just wanted to finish honestly,” Ohanian said. “The last lap, I just got so much energy. I thought she would outkick me.”
CHSAA Relay Carnival
A relay meet at the start of the season in the Armory usually means at least one thing: that it’s not too early to start talking about the Millrose Games.
For St. Joseph by the Sea, that was exactly won their goal was in the boys 4x800 relay – to make sure they earned a spot in the Millrose Trials at the Armory Jan. 13 and ultimately a lane at Madison Square Garden for the Millrose Games, where the boys CHSAA 4x800 is always one of the featured scholastic races on the bill.
In their first of many opportunities this season to lock horns with the league’s top relays, St. Joseph by the Sea won the relay at the CHSAA Relay Carnival in 8:06.7 with Michael Vaio, Nick Italinao, Adam Civitano and Danny Zacariello.
“We just wanted to run tough and beat the competiton,” said Zacariello, who ran the anchor leg. “We established ourselves last year. We want to establish that we’re going to be a team to beat this year.”
Zacariello said that since his freshman season, his team as made it a goal at the start of each season to ensure the Millrose Trials and the Millrose Games will be a part of their race schedule. They qualified the last two years and this season, they expect to have one of the top relays in the CHSAA.
“We just want to get the relay out of the way early so that we can focus on what we want to do individually,” he said.
For most teams, the meet is a season opener, where athletes are looking to gauge themselves and the competition for the season. St. John the Baptist was off to a solid start, winning the girls 4x200 in 1:49.1 with Victoria London, Chelsea Penn, Ryan Woolley and Brigette Carey.
“Our goal was to get under 1:50,” Woolley said. “We’ve been working on our blind stick passes and we wanted to work on that here today.”
St. John the Baptist also won the boys 4x200 in 1:34.0 with Elijah Pardo, Mike DuPlessis, Azeem Boyce and Hunter Burrell.
Peter Kechejian, Steven DiDominica, Sean Burpoe and Nick Petsky won the boys distance medley relay in 11:24.0 for Chaminade. Petsky held off a late charge from Xavier’s anchor, Avery Sternglass.
“I was slipping the whole race,” Petsky said. “I just tried to hold me off. I heard him come up. I guess I just held a lot in the reserve bank.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.