Ryan John of Valley Stream North wins the boys triple...

Ryan John of Valley Stream North wins the boys triple jump with a mark of 46 feet, 6 1/4 inches at the 2022 NYSPHSAA Indoor Track & Field Championship at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island on Saturday. Credit: Errol Anderson

Ryan John was back in the building and, chances are, he’ll never forget it. The building was Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island – site of the state indoor track and field championships and, somewhat coincidently, the site of the last major high school track and field event in 2020 before the pandemic cancelled athletic events for the rest of that school year and, for Long Island public school athletes, the fall season of the following school year as well.

The last state championships was held on a nondescript Saturday, a day of general normalcy. That normalcy didn’t return — at least on the indoor track level – until late this fall when the sport moved inside again. Saturday represented a return after a long two years – one that saw a winter season like 2021, where athletes actually ran and jumped outside, in January and February.

So, the significance of Saturday was not lost on John, a Valley Stream North senior who is committed to Clemson. He marked it in his memory forever, winning the triple jump state championship by flying 46 feet, 6 ¼ inches. John also placed second in the long jump (21-10). Rhoan Kaulder of McQuaid Jesuit jumped 22-10 1/2 to win the long jump.

"This is my first time being here in two years and it’s exactly how I remember it," John said. "It’s everyone working the events and the spectators in the stands. The environment makes me thrive. It gives me more energy."

From a technical standpoint, John said he wasn’t thrilled with his triple jump Saturday. You don’t get to Clemson with low standards, and John’s couldn’t be higher. He jumped 47-7 at the Nassau State Qualifier last month, currently the top mark in the state, according to milesplit.com.

"As always, finishing could be better," John said. "I was pretty content with everything I was doing today. I just have to apply better tactics next time."

John will jump at Nike Indoor Nationals next weekend at Ocean Breeze. John could have jumped at New Balance Indoor Nationals at the Armory in Manhattan, but chose to stay at the place he loves.

"It’s just the environment of Ocean Breeze," he said. "I just love it here."

John has held the top jump in the state for most of the season. He credits much of his success to the work he puts in on those cold winter afternoons. Many field athletes practice outdoors during the season, and John is no different. It’s endless dedication in sometimes awful conditions.

"It’s the winter, so a lot of people will actually shy away from getting outside and getting to the pits and jumping," John said. "But, my coaches and I always strive to get outside when we can. When we find a day when it’s good weather, even if it’s still cold, we try our best to get outside anyway and get to jumping. We only have so many meets and so many opportunities that you get to jump."

Last winter, it was all outside and all cold. When the pandemic forced winter track into the actual winter, John and hundreds of others were forced to put down real numbers in real cold air. It wasn’t conducive to, well, anything – and a day like Saturday put into perspective of what it meant to be back.

"It’s a breath of fresh air," John said. "I missed coming inside. I missed being on these tracks."

Elsewhere, St. Anthony’s Nicholas Lourenco won the pole vault, clearing 15 feet, six inches. Lourenco returned two weeks ago after missing five weeks with a stress fracture in his back

"I felt great," Lourenco said. "The back brace that I’ve been wearing helped a lot. I think I’m a lot healthier than I was. I felt almost 100 percent. Everything was smooth and coming natural to me."

Lourenco said he felt a little ‘off’ on the runway, but powered through the jump to win by six inches.

"The jump itself felt really good," he said. "On my 15-6 jump, I was really smooth through the whole top half of the jump. That was probably my favorite jump of the day."

Lourenco’s clear tied the second-best jump in the state this season, according to milesplit.com. It was five inches better than his 15-1 clear, accomplished at the Long Island Elite Meet last weekend.

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Indoor Track and Field Championships – at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex, Staten Island

Federation Champions

BOYS

Triple Jump: Ryan John, Valley Stream North, 46-6.25.

Pole Vault: Nicholas Lourenco, St. Anthony’s, 15-6.

GIRLS

55-meter hurdles: Kate Del Gandio, Mount Sinai, 8.14.

600 meters: Analisse Batista, Huntington, 1:32.94.

Triple Jump: Alexandra Kelly, Rocky Point, 39-6.

Pole Vault: Marisa D’Angelo, St. Anthony’s, 12-6.

Shot Put: Julie Thomas, Commack, 40-10.5.

Intersectional Relay: Suffolk, (Kristen Aguilera – West Babylon, Olivia Jaworski – Northport, Laina Friedmann – Smithtown West, Anna Gansrow – ESM) , 10:15.05.

4X200 Meter Relay: Elmont (Alexandra Williams, Stephney Pryce, Andre-Anna Rodney, Ashley Fulton), 1:42.81.


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