Kellenberg's Maureen Lewin leads all runners into the turn of...

Kellenberg's Maureen Lewin leads all runners into the turn of the girls 1500m run during the NSCHSAA League track and field Championships at St. Anthony's High School on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Kellenberg’s Maureen Lewin figured she wasn’t going to break any records Saturday morning, but that didn’t matter much to her. It’s championship season and championship season is less about records and more about endurance. Toward the end of a long outdoor season, and an even longer school year, the top athletes are often asked to perform well in multiple events.

Lewin is certainly one of those top athletes and she proved it by winning two events at the CHSAA League Championships at St. Anthony’s High School. The senior won the 1,500 meters in four minutes, 45.16 seconds and the 800 in 2:16.40.

The victories helped Kellenberg win the team title with 77 ½ points. St. John the Baptist was second with 69 ½.

Lewin took the 1,500 out hard, looking to lead her two teammates, Maya Richardson and Ashley Minns, along. Richardson took second in 4:52.80 and Minns was third in 4:59.25, both personal bests, they said.

“We wanted to go in and conserve as much energy as we could because we were all [doing three events] today,” Lewin said. “…I tried to get out, get a lead and tried to stay together to finish 1-2-3.”

Energy conservation is another wrinkle of championship season that doesn’t necessarily come into play in March and April. Athletes must balance winning events early in the meet, while making sure they still have enough energy to win more later.

Lewin tried as hard as she could to stay true to this principle in the 1,500.

“I tried to stay with the pack for the first couple laps and just pull away toward the end…I knew there were very strong runners in the field, so I knew they would try and stay on me the whole time,” Lewin said. “I probably pushed a little harder than I was hoping to go.”

Richardson’s personal best was just the beginning of an outstanding day. She won the 3,000 in 10:42.50 and was named the track MVP of the meet.

“Throughout the race, I was looking at Maureen to see where I should be,” Richardson said of her 1,500 race. “…I wouldn’t be able to run (4:52) without her. She’s a really good pacer.”

Elsewhere, St. Anthony’s Melissa Cunningham, who is rebounding from a hamstring injury, won the 200 in 26 seconds flat and, along with Bernadette Bakke, Jenifer Furman and Nyha Butler, won the 4x400 meter relay in 4:05 flat. Our Lady of Mercy’s Chiamaka Okonkwo won the shot put, throwing 32 feet, 3 ½ inches and was voted field MVP of the meet.

On the boys side, St. Anthony’s had 99 points to win its 11th consecutive team league championship, coach Tim Dearie said. The Friars flexed their distance muscle once again. Brendan Dearie, Tim’s son, won the 3,000 meter steeplechase in 10:01.17 and the 3,200 in 10:04.90 – leaving the field way behind in both instances. Dearie was named track MVP of the meet.

Dearie, a senior, said he had not run the steeplechase since freshman year, but is finally healthy from a nagging hip injury that had eliminated steeplechase as an option in his sophomore and junior years.

“I wanted to run something kind of fast because I’m running it at [the CHSAA Intersectional Championships] next week,” Dearie said. “…We started going over barriers this week. We had a few hiccups at first, but we worked it out and it ended up going pretty well. I felt like I was mostly within myself because I just focused on my training for the two-mile, with a few obstacles in the way, because that’s what steeple is.”

After pacing his teammate, Matthew Reda, to a win in the 1,600 meters, Matthew Payamps won the 800 in 1:55 flat. Payamps outpaced Kellenberg’s Erik Brown, who was on him the whole race. Brown was second in 1:56.30.

“Erik is a really strong runner, but I just had to trust my training and worry about myself and getting forward, rather than what he’s doing behind me,” Payamps said.

Payamps knew that the battle with Brown was coming. The two had fought for the indoor CHSAA league 600 title in January in much the same fashion.

“That got me a little more excited about executing my plan, rather just running out there alone,” Payamps said. “I knew [Brown] was going to be close to me. It forced me to not slouch off…It makes the sport more fun. That’s why we do it.”

In the field, St. John the Baptist’s Patrick Glasgow won the shot put (43 feet, 10 inches), discus (125-1) and was named field MVP of the meet.