By Christopher Hunt
WESTBURY – Valencia Hannon sprinted from the finish line to the infield scoreboard to take a better look at her time. She wasn’t wearing her glasses, she said. But the truth is that she wanted to make sure she believed what she saw.
The Elmont junior and defending state 100-meter champ, spent most of this season in obscurity. But Hannon came out Thursday when she won the 100 at the Section 8 state qualifier in a personal best, 11.94 seconds at Westbury High. She squealed when she heard the time. The performance is the best in the state this season.
“Everything went right,” she said. “I got a great start. I didn’t care about who was behind me or what was happening around me. I just focused on myself.”
Hannon injured her groin at the indoor state championships, where she placed third in the 55 meters. She sat the first part of the spring and mostly struggled since started competing again, starting at the St. Anthony’s Invitational. Last week, at the Nassau County championships, Hannon drew her first false-start disqualification.
“I wanted to cry after that,” she said. “I just couldn’t let those tears fall.”
Hannon had an equally explosive start in the 200 later. She held off Freeport’s Danielle Martin to win in 24.37, another career best and the third-best time in the state. Martin clocked 24.54 for second. Hannon’s response to the race was eerily similar.
“Everything went right,” she said. “Everything.”
Hannon said posting the best double of her track career meant more because she considered this a bounce-back season.
“I was shocked I ran this fast,” Hannon said.
North Shore junior Brianna Nerud, continued her breakthough in the 2,000 steeplechase, winning in 6:41.33 to qualify for next week’s state meet and set the stage for a showdown with defending national champion, Mary Kate Anselmini of Ward Melville. Nerud broke Anselmini’s Long Island record last week when she ran 6:40.8 at the Nassau County championships.
“It’ll be exciting to be in a race against her, knowing that she won nationals,” Nerud said.
Nerud also helped her squad usurp Garden City relay stranglehold in the 4x800. Emily Osman (2:20.7), Nerud (2:13.6), Liz Caldwell (2:19.8) and Samantha Nadel (2:13.9) won in 9:08.35, the second-fastest time in New York. Garden City finished second in 9:10.71.
Garden City lead nearly the entire race before Nadel took the lead from Michelle Rotondo on the anchor leg. Rotondo latched on but Nadel pulled away in the last 200 meters to win.
“That was so exciting for us,” Nadel said. “Over the past few years (Garden City) has proved to be No. 1 in the relays and we just beat them. We’re all just so excited.”
Garden City, by virtue of having the qualifying standard, advanced to the state meet in the 4x800 as well. The Eagles also won the 4x400 in 3:54.93 with a squad of Laura Jaeger (58.3), Alexis Yeboah-Kodie (58.7), Taryn Schmelzinger (60.9) and Emma Gallagher (56.9).
On the boys side, the biggest surprise came in the long jump. West Hempstead sophomore Tayvon Hall literally leaped himself into the elite class of jumpers in the state. He upset Uniondale’s Glen Forsythe to win the long jump in 23 feet, 7.50 inches. Forsythe, who won the triple jump Tuesday, finished second at 23-1.50.
“I give him all the credit,” Forsythe said. “He came out of nowhere.”
Hall only took three attempts Thursday. He fouled his first attempt, set a personal best, 23-7.50 on his second and then proved the mark legitimate on his third attempt, clearing 23-1.75. He passed his final three attempts.
Hall’s performance only intensifies the competition at the state meet which will include Tre Bracey of Hamilton in Section 1, who jumped 24-1 Thursday at his state qualifier. Rolyce Boston of Sheepshead Bay has jumped 24-3.50 and Forsythe popped 23-11 last month.
“It’s going to be a great competition,” Forsythe said. “I’m excited about it.”
Baldwin also had an impressive performance in the 4x400, winning in 3:19.30.