This past weekend Section XI, Suffolk County’s high school athletic governing body, hosted the spring track individual championships, also known as State Qualifiers at Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station.
Of 7,000 athletes who compete in varsity public high school spring track in Suffolk County, only about 10 percent earn the honor of competing. Representing Shelter Island, four Indians, seniors Joshua Green and Lindsey Gallagher and sophomores Kal Lewis and Emma Gallagher earned the honor of being invited to compete at State Qualifiers.
Due to the large number of track and field events for both boys and girls, the event was held over a two-day period on June 1 and 2. The top 24 athletes in each event are invited to compete. Large schools comprise Division 1, which in a nutshell are high schools with 600 or more students in grades 9 through 11.
Small schools comprise Division 2 with less than 600 students. To put things into perspective, Shelter Island has 62 students in grades 9 through 11. Even within Division 2, we are competing with some schools 10 times larger than us.
The first place finishers in each event from Division 1 and Division 2 go to the State Championship. Second place finishers only go to “States” if they have run the very challenging state qualifying time.
On June 1, Green and the Gallagher sisters competed in the 800-meter run. This was the first time Emma had qualified. The 800-meter run was split into a seeded race — the top 12 athletes and another race with the next 12 fastest. Emma, ranked as the number 19 seed, ran 2:28.76 minutes, posting 17th place overall, a solid performance for a sophomore.
Lindsey Gallagher raced the 800-meter next. Ranked as the number 12 seed, Lindsey’s focus was on the Division 2 small school title and she executed her race plan well, taking three seconds off her previous best, running a personal record of 2:20.75. She ran to a second place Division 2 finish and seventh place county-wide.
Joshua Green then raced the 800-meter run. Running against his Division 2 opponents, Green was able to lead for most of the race. With 150 meters to go, Green increased his lead to 10 meters. With victory in sight, unbeknownst to Green as he closed in on the finish line, Port Jefferson’s Sam Walker surged strongly to even the race up within a step of the finish line and he passed Green, winning the Division 2 race by a margin of 0.2 seconds. Green ran 2:02.85 to his Division 2 second place finish.
The following day was hot and steamy as Lewis raced the 1,600-meter run. Ranked as the number 1 Division 2 seed, and the number 2 seed county-wide, Lewis ran the seeded race, which got off to a fast start with Lewis keeping in contact with the lead pack through the first three laps.
Approaching the start of the last lap, he was in fourth place and made a courageous move when he surprised the rest of the field by jumping the lead pack so early with 400 meters to go. The move turned a six man race into a three man race very quickly. Lewis ended up tiring near the finish, but he made it into a really good footrace and gave it his all to take it to the older runners.
The seniors he was running against, Elijah Claiborne of Northport and Aiden Smith of Walt Whitman passed him in the last 150 meters finishing with times of 4:11.47 and 4:14.91, respectively. Lewis finished third county-wide with a time of 4:17.64 and easily finished first in Division 2, earning him a trip to the State Championships. The nearest competitor in Division 2 from Port Jefferson ran 4:33.90.
Lewis puts an incredible season behind him and now has a busy two weeks ahead of him. He’ll be representing Shelter Island in the Division 2 1,600-meter run at the New York State Spring Track Championships in North Cicero, just north of Syracuse on June 8.
His time of 4:15.42 in early May earned him the honor of running as an emerging elite at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championships in Greenville, North Carolina the weekend of June 15.
A dream come true. Your team wishes you nothing but good luck and good health. Go get ‘em, Kal!