Mikey Brannigan, Northport win Suffolk cross country titles
Helping his Northport team repeat as Suffolk team champions wasn't enough for Mikey Brannigan. The sophomore hadn't won a 5k race all season, and he wanted nothing more than to break his own winless drought, as well.
Thanks to a well-timed kick at the end, Brannigan was able to do both.
Brannigan made a late move and held off a hard-charging Ryan Udvadia at the line to win the individual championship and lift Northport to both the overall Suffolk team title and the Division I crown Tuesday in the Division Championships at Sunken Meadow State Park.
Brannigan won in 15:56.3 to edge Udvadia of Shoreham-Wading River (15:57.1) at the finish. Tim McGowan (16:11.1) took sixth and James Dickinson was seventh in 16:15.0 as the Tigers finished with 39 points.
"I wanted to do both, win the individual and the team [championships]," said Brannigan, who shattered his personal-best time of 16:47.0. "I knew in my head I could win it."
Brannigan, who finished third in last year's Division Championships, stayed in front of the pack with North Babylon's Kris Moran early in the race. The two opened up a 50-meter lead on the rest of the field as they approached the notoriously difficult Cardiac Hill.
"I made [Moran] tired," Brannigan said. "I kept it moving up Cardiac."
Brannigan started his kick with 1,000 meters to go after the field had traversed Cardiac Hill, and Udvadia followed him. The two engaged in an all-out sprint to the line with 200 meters to go, and Brannigan edged him by a shoulder length.
"I used my technique," Brannigan said of the fast and furious finish. "I just pumped my arms really hard."
Whitman (97 points) took second overall and won the Division II title as Michael Damato (16:04.1), Zachary Cammer (16:09.4) and James Vallar (16:18.0) finished third, fifth and eighth overall.