Brendan Conniff of Manhasset wins the Nassau Class B boys...

Brendan Conniff of Manhasset wins the Nassau Class B boys state cross country qualifier at Bethpage State Park on Nov. 6, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Brendan Conniff is glad to be back inside. No, this isn’t some ‘being out in the cold last winter changed my outlook on indoor track’-kind-of-thing. That may be true for a lot of Long Island athletes who were forced to compete outdoors in frigid temperatures last winter due to COVID-19 concerns and now claim a new appreciation for the windless confines of the indoor track.

Indoor track is, generally, unpopular among athletes because the lack of fresh air makes it more difficult to run. But Conniff, a Manhasset senior, has always loved it.

"There’s just something about the 200-meter track," he said. "I just feel like it’s faster. I just will myself to go faster."

He willed himself to a triple victory at the Nassau Conference IV Championships Tuesday night at St. Anthony’s High School. Conniff won the 3,200 meters in 10 minutes, 31.02 seconds, the 1,000 in 2:51.41, and the 1,600 in 4:59.02.

The individual distance triple is one of the hardest things to do in the sport. Not only does a runner have to win three races – hard enough as it is – but they have to make sure they win the first two while conserving enough energy for the next one. It’s a test of endurance, planning, and self-control.

"I thought the 1,000 would probably be the toughest one, just because of the time gap between the [3,200] and the 1,000," Conniff said. "I only had close to 20 minutes after I finished the [3,200]. It kind of felt like, right after I finished the [3,200], I had to go over and check in for the 1,000. I wasn’t totally sure how I was going to respond to that. I just kept a confident mindset. I tried to treat the [3,200] as just a really fast warm up."

After using a final-400 kick in the 1,000, Conniff said he had between 45 minutes and one hour before he toed the line in the 1,600. With two wins under his belt and a rare individual distance triple in his sights, he was able to [finally] lay it all out on the track for his top event.

"Going up to that starting line for the mile, obviously I thought like, ‘wow, am I really about to do this?,’" Conniff said. "I had a [3,200] under my belt. Some other kids only ran one race. All that was kind of going through my head. I didn’t really plan as well for the mile as I did for the [3,200] and the 1,000…. I stuck to my strategy I used for the 1,000. I stayed in the middle of the pack, kind of close to the front for the first half of the race, then I took control at the end."

Conniff said he isn’t sure if he will do the individual distance triple at the Class B County Championships, scheduled for Feb. 9 at St. Anthony’s. He will do the 1,000 and 1,600, but said he’s ’50-50’ on doing the 3,200. He may opt for a relay in his third event instead.

JOHN JUMPS TO TOP SPOT

Ryan John, a Valley Stream North senior who committed to Clemson in December, flew 47 feet, ½ of an inch and won the triple jump at the Nassau Conference IV Championships Tuesday night, the top mark in the state, as of Thursday, according to milesplit.com.

John, who also won the long jump (22-9.25) and the high jump (5-10), helped Valley Stream North win the team title with 181 points.

As of Thursday, Long Island had two of the top three triple jumpers in the state. Central Islip’s Ryan Antwi jumped 45 feet, eight inches at a Suffolk crossover meet on Jan. 8, good for third-farthest in the state.