Hauppauge’s Nick Crociata’s early lead became precarious halfway through the boys 800 at the Suffolk state qualifier meet.
Competing runners took their turns challenging him as each meter passed. But as much as the junior was looking ahead toward the finish, he was also looking behind and forcing himself that what lay ahead would be different.
“I was like, ‘That’s not happening again,’ ” Crociata said. “I’m taking this one home.”
He came through the line in 1:56.82, holding off a push from Deer Park’s Nick Fenton, who crossed in 1:57.37 at Suffolk state qualifier at Port Jefferson Friday. Crociata noticed some of the trading of places behind him, but none of it was a major concern.
“I just try to focus on what’s ahead of me and make sure there’s no one else in front of me,” he said. “Just me and the line.”
Further ahead will be an appearance in the state championships 800 in Endicott next weekend. He’s been to the outdoor championships before, as part of Hauppauge’s winning 4 x 800 relay team. This year will mark his accomplishments and show how far he’s come.
“Running for my school upstate,” Crociata said. “Nothing more rewarding than that.”
Sachem North’s Christopher Tibbetts had nothing left after the 3,200. He had to hold onto others and take a second to catch his breath. After the finish he’d just been through, they were both signs of a race well run, and in this case, won.
Tibbetts found an extra boost to kick from starting in the final back straightaway before holding off a shoulder-to-shoulder charge by Northport’s Isaiah Claiborne down the final 100 meters. Tibbetts won in 9:21.10. Claiborne followed in 9:21.70.
“I knew it was going to be like that,” said Tibbetts, noting Claiborne’s kick. “I’ve been a victim of it a couple times, chased down, I wasn’t really into that. It was a nice eye opener.”
Tibbetts’ final burst brought a surprising amount of energy and speed with the majority of the final lap remaining, but the boost was there when he needed it the most.
“I’ve been having problems with my kick all season and I’m glad I have it back,” Tibbetts said.
He’ll be back on Saturday, looking to qualify in the mile. But Friday was about giving what he had in the moment.
“What do I have to lose?” he said. “Great night sleep tonight, I’ll be fine.”