MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — St. Anthony’s Matthew Payamps lifted his hand to the sky as he crossed the finish line of the 3,200 meters at Friday’s opening day of the state track and field championships. In actuality, he was celebrating a victory time of 8 minutes, 59.04 seconds at Middletown High School. But he was also waving goodbye to New York State, where he will never compete again as a high school athlete.
Payamps, who will graduate from St. Anthony’s High School on Saturday, will run the mile at the prestigious Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle next weekend, but will close his New York State high school career as a champion.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Payamps said. “It’s just another win, right now. But I think it’s going to hit me soon. I’m going to really miss it.”
Payamps outlasted Saratoga Springs’ Shea Weilbaker on the final lap, passing him with 200 meters left after an unsuccessful attempt to pass on the outside with 300 meters left. Weilbaker (9:01.57) and Payamps will be teammates next season at Georgetown.
“It was definitely tough,” Payamps said. “Each lap just got harder and harder. But it got me excited that he was pushing the pace so hard and we’re going to be working together the next couple years. It just got me more confident and I was happy that I was able to finish strong and come home with the title.”
Payamps said he didn’t want to wait until the 200-meter mark to pass, but had no choice because of Weilbaker’s strong countermoves.
“That just shows how strong he is as a runner to not let me get it right away,” Payamps said. “But I was happy I was able to and closed hard the last 200.”
Elsewhere, Huntington’s 4 x 400 relay team, composed of C.J. Kiviat, Anthony Joseph, Isaiah James and Johnathan Smith won the Division I championship in 3:14.17. They’ll compete for the Federation championship Saturday.
Mount Sinai’s Kenneth Wei won the Division II triple jump, flying 48 feet, 3⁄4 inches and the Division II long jump (24-3). Wei said that the adrenaline of competing at his final state meet led to the long triple jump distance.
“I thought my run was really aggressive,” Wei said. “When I popped off the board, I felt like there was enough strength and force to carry me through the jump . . . It’s one of the last times I’ll ever get to triple jump and the atmosphere and adrenaline was just rushing. I said, ‘Let’s just go for it.’ ”
Wei also had the top time in the Division II 110-meter hurdles, running a 14.21. He’ll compete for a Division II, and possibly a Federation, championship Saturday.
“I ran a really clean race and tried to not use too much energy,” Wei said.
Freeport’s Kevon O’Brien-Smith won the Division I 400 in 47.67 seconds.