Port Washington's 4x800 relay team poses after winning the national...

Port Washington's 4x800 relay team poses after winning the national championship at the Nike Indoor track and field national championships at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island. (Standing, from left: Terrence McGinty, Kevin Taylor. Seated, from left: Colin Funk, Maxwell Meehan) Credit: Newsday File/Jordan Lauterbach

Last Saturday, Port Washington’s 4 x 800 meter relay team was sitting in the stands at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island watching a state championship race that they believed they could have won. Friday night, they were standing in the same complex, this time on top of a podium.

They liked the podium better.

After being disqualified at the Nassau State Qualifier, Port Washington was unable to run in last Saturday’s state championships. The Nike National Championships, though? They were good to go. And they made good on it.

The team, composed of Kevin Taylor, Terrence McGinty, Maxwell Meehan, and Colin Funk, won the national title in seven minutes, 57.08 seconds at the Nike meet, a weekend-long affair at Ocean Breeze.

It was a redemptive moment in what had been a bit of a sour month for the team.

"Our coach actually made us stay and watch the 4 x 8 [at states]," Funk said. "We knew we could have been state champions if we had been there….So this was kind of a statement race."

Taylor agreed: "We were pretty annoyed we couldn’t run at states. We knew we could have been competitive and would have definitely been All-State. We would have tried to be first in the state. But, the fact that we couldn’t, we just knew that we had to do the best that we could today and that really motivated us."

Port Washington isn’t done. They’ll run the 4 x 800 once more this weekend, at New Balance Indoor Nationals on Sunday at the Armory in Manhattan.

"We’ll be back on Sunday at New Balance to make an even bigger statement," Funk said.

Elsewhere, Westhampton’s Gavin Ehlers placed second in the indoor 5-kilometers in 14:55.27, good for All-American status. Michigan’s Hunter Jones won in 14:20.71 – the fourth-fastest high school time in history, meet organizers said. It was the first of three events this weekend for Ehlers. He’ll be running on Westhampton’s 4 x mile relay Saturday and the mile on Sunday at New Balance Indoor Nationals.

Ehlers, who was the best cross-country runner in Suffolk in each of the last two seasons, said he’d never run an indoor 5K before.

"It was a bit of a grind," he said of the 25-lap race. "It was a bit of a tough race, but it is what it is… just focused on going out, trying to run something fast, and seeing what I could do. I blew up a little bit, but still hung on for second. I’m fine with it."

Ehlers’ Westhampton teammate, Max Haynia, was third in the indoor 5K in 15:20.30 and Mepham’s Amokrane Aouchiche was fifth in 15:48.35, also good for the All-American distinction.

Valley Stream North’s Ryan John placed an All-American fifth in the triple jump, flying 46 feet, nine-and-a-half inches.

On the girls side, Massapequa’s Alyssa LeBron earned an All-American fifth in the weight throw (46-10) and Bayport – Blue Point’s Emily Clayton was an All-American fifth in the one-mile race walk (8:27.93).

"I did not expect any of this," Clayton said. "I started race walking less than a year ago. I was pretty [against] the entire idea. I did not want to. My coach threw me in it one day and I somehow got here. I never imagined I’d end up here."

Friends Academy’s sprint medley relay team, composed of Nyah Thomas, Olivia Carden, Skylar Cohen, and Aislinn Frazer, ran toward an All-American sixth in 4:16.55.

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