St. John the Baptist's Erin Endres is back, and just in the nick of time. After suffering from tendinitis in her lower leg earlier in the season, the junior said she felt fine Tuesday night at the Eastern States championships at The Armory in Manhattan.

Endres ran the first leg in the distance medley relay and the Cougars placed third in 12 minutes, 24.29 seconds. She clocked a 3:45 1,200-meter leg, coach David Wood said.

The injury was caused by something that may seem trivial to some, but caused Endres angst throughout the year: her shoes.

"I was wearing shoes designed for flat-footed people, and I am the opposite of flat-footed," Endres said. "Something so small can mess up your entire season."

In addition to the injury, Endres said the faulty shoes also significantly hampered her speed.

"I couldn't push off the ground," she said. "I've always been a fast closer. I couldn't run fast at all."

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Last month, Endres recognized the issue and replaced her shoes, but the fallout from running more than half the season with incorrect footwear took a few weeks to eliminate.

"We had to fix my entire form," she said. "It got really messed up. I wasn't running correctly."

And that adjustment had to be done, in part, during less-than-ideal practice conditions.

"We haven't gotten to race a lot because of snow and break," Endres said. "Today was the first major race that I've done well in . . . I needed this a lot. I had no self confidence."

Now she has plenty . . . and her teammates, Gillian Cutolo, Emily Fiorillo and Kate McCormack, certainly were appreciative of the late-season revival.

"Her stride was so much better," McCormack said. "Now I have my running buddy back."

The Eastern States acting as Endres' "coming-back party" has some interesting timing. After such a heavy schedule early in the season, the squad gets a little bit of a break from racing in the nearly monthlong period before the classic late-season meet.

"It's been so long without racing," Endres said. "This is usually a horrible race for us. But it breaks the rust for next week."

For Endres and McCormack, "next week" is only a few days away. The two will compete at the state championships Saturday at Cornell in Ithaca. Endres will run the 1,000 meters and McCormack will run the 1,500.

"This was our hard workout for Saturday," McCormack said. "It was nice to have this."

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In other girls events, Island Trees' Alyssa Mustafa finished second in the long jump, soaring 17 feet, 111/2 inches. Bay Shore's Aviana Goode tied for second in the high jump with Frances Lodge of The Spence School in Manhattan, both clearing 5-2.

In the boys 400, Lynbrook's Luke Germanakos placed third in 48.91 seconds. "I'm happy with the race," Germanakos said.

Uniondale's Tyrus Colbert tied for fifth in the 55 meters in 6.63 seconds.

"I got a good start and kept pushing," Colbert said. "Right before the finish line, I tried to hold on. I'm pretty happy about what I did tonight."