By Christopher Hunt
Many times championship meets, especially ones that feature traditionally powerhouse teams, boil down to who can last the longest – like two heavyweight boxers waiting for the other to punch himself out. In those cases, the team that has one superstar – that one towering right hook – is the team that leaves with the hardware.
Both New Rochelle and Suffern are deep teams with versatile athletes so Suffern’s win at the Class A championships Monday night was simple: too much Jen Clayton.
Clayton accounted from 28 of the Mounties’ 79 points, winning the long and triple jump and finishing second in the 55 meters. That’s the haymaker that ends the fight. New Rochelle finished second with 63.5 and Ursuline third with 58.
It wasn’t a spectacular day for Clayton, who committed to LSU. She won the triple jump in 37 feet, 9.25 inches, the long jump in 19-5.75 and a poor start in the 55 earned her second place in 7.19 seconds.
“Biddy said for us to go out and do our best,” Clayton said. “Even if I finished second in the 55, I did my best for the team and this meet is about the team.”
That’s the reason Clayton chose to compete in the triple jump, even after she had mostly given up the triple jump a year ago to protect herself from injury. With not much resistance in the field in the long jump, where Clayton leads the country (20-5.75), she said she worked on technique for this weekend.
“In the long jump I just wanted to make sure I was making my marks because I’m going to Simplot Games (in Pocatello, Idaho),” she said. “In warmups I was way over the board but when we started I was right on the board or just behind it which is where I like to be.”
But Clayton didn’t carry the load alone. Ursula Svoboda won the 3,000 in 10:23.3 and sophomore Sarah Bowens won the 55 hurdles in a school record 8.28.
“I was really excited for that,” Bowens said. “I really wanted to get that record so I’m happy I got it.”
Bowens also finished fifth in the 300 and ran a leg on Suffern’s winning 4x200 relay, which finished in 1:44.52. Plus, Meg McNally dropped a three-second personal best to place second in the 600 in 1:35.9.
“We knew we were going to get big points out of Jen, Bowens and Svoboda,” Biddy said. “At every one of these big meets, the goal is just to kept it close until the relays. That’s where a lot of teams run out of bullets.”
Suffern held control for most of the meet until New Rochelle flooded the shot put, leaving with 21 points, led by Natasha Amazan’s toss of 36-11.75, which gave New Rochelle a 1-point lead after eight events. Then Clayton grabbed second in the 55 and won the long jump. But New Rochelle responded with its best 4x800 of the season, finishing third in 9:41.2, putting the Mounties down six with two events left. But then Suffern won the 4x200 and earned another six points by finishing third in the 4x400 in 4:08.0.
“We kind of put together this make-shift 4x400 and they came out and ran 4:08,” Biddy said. “That’s huge. You have to have a solid core up front and each year you try to pull more kids into that core. That’s how they learn.”
North Rockland’s Kristen Walsh set a personal best in the 600, winning in 1:35.2. Tappan Zee’s Calie Kohlbrenner won the 1,000 in 2:59.8 and Arlington’s Hayley McMahon won the 1,500 in 4:38.3. Mount Vernon freshman Deajah Stevens won the 300 in 38.65, the third-fastest time in the state this season.
Reach Christopher Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.