On Monday, February 12, the Suffolk County Public High School Individual Championships were held at Suffolk Community College’s Brentwood Campus.
The Individual Championships, which is essentially the County Championships, are also known as the State Qualifiers because the season all comes down to one race — this race — to decide who goes to the New York State High School Championships. The New York State Championships bring together public and private high schools statewide.
Last year, we had one athlete, senior Lindsey Gallagher, qualify for the State Qualifiers. This year, we are proud to report, that three of our athletes qualified. Senior Lindsey Gallagher qualified for the 600 meter run, senior Joshua Green qualified for the 1,000 meter run and sophomore Kal Lewis qualified for the 1,600 meter run.
Only the top 12 athletes county-wide earn the honor of running at State Qualifiers, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself, taking into account that there are nearly 4,000 male and female athletes rostered in Section XI, Suffolk County’s public high school winter track programs
But only the top four in each event at State Qualifiers go to the State Championships.
The first race of the night that Shelter Island competed in was Green’s 1,000 meter run. The indoor track is a 200- meter oval, which would be five laps. Green started his race conservatively, running at the back of the pack for the first lap or so. Then he stepped up the pace and started picking off runners in laps two, three and four.
Going into the final lap, Green was in fifth place, but he reached deep to hold on to the ever increasing effort and in the final 50 meters out kicked another runner to take fourth place, clocking in at 2:37.77 minutes. In doing so, Green qualified for the State Championships and earned All-County Honors for placing in the top four. This is the first time in school history, Shelter Island will be sending an athlete to the Winter Track State Championships.
The second race of the night was Gallagher’s 600 meter run. She ran an amazing race while trying to overcome the remnants of the flu, which took her out of her training cycle for a full week and a half before the State Qualifiers. Although Gallagher did not have a peak performance in the race, running 1:41.19 minutes, she did place sixth place overall running on pure guts. She ran a smart and fast first two laps, but was unable to keep the pace in the third lap as the fatigue from the flu set in.
Despite what she was up against, Gallagher joined a very select group of athletes, eight girls county-wide, by earning All-County Academic Honors for placing in the top six and being in the top 10 percent of her class. Congratulations!
The last race of the night was Lewis’ 1,600 meter run. In a highly stacked race with intense competition, Lewis did his best among the small and large school upperclassmen he was up against. He didn’t turn in his best performance of the season at State Qualifiers, running 4:35.03 because he, too, was beset by illness in the last week leading up to the race with a stomach bug that took him out of school and training for a couple of days.
Although it didn’t turn out as hoped, it was an experience that will make him all the more wiser next season.
We had a great winter track season earning some individual championship titles on both the boys and girls teams; had some fun; made some new friends; and exposed some new athletes to the sport. As coaches, myself and Coach Jason Green would like to thank all of the athletes who participated this season, it was well worth the ride.
The season is officially over for all except Joshua Green. Green will be competing on the intersectional relay team running the leading 1,000 meter leg at the State Championships on Saturday, March 3 at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island.