Winning a race with one shoe is not a prescribed method, but when push came to shove, Payton Hazzard found a way to make it happen.

For Hazzard, St. Anthony's junior mid-distance specialist, that was his reality only steps into the 800-meter CHSAA Intersectional Championships final at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island.

Running with a bare foot, Hazzard won in 1 minute, 57.98 seconds, more than three seconds slower than his personal best, but it was academic after the circumstances that preceded his victory.

Hazzard's left shoe had been jostled by an opponent's foot at the opening gun, which loosened the shoe to the point of discomfort.

Less than 200 meters into the race and falling further behind the lead pack, Hazzard flipped off his shoe. It might have been the boost he needed.

"When I lost my shoe, I felt a surge of adrenaline rush through my body," Hazzard said. "I knew I could get back up."

With one bare foot scraping against the track, coach Tim Dearie could only worry. Blisters, and the danger of opposing spikes, had Hazzard toying with danger.

"Actually, it wasn't that uncomfortable," Hazzard said. "I felt like I could turn my legs over better without the shoe."

Dearie added: "It must have felt incredibly awkward to run a high-caliber race that way. And to win the race . . . that is just amazing."

He would his claw his way to the four-man lead pack, which ran a 58.57-second opening lap. Holy Trinity's Austin Mituniewicz, who defeated Hazzard by 1/100th of a second in last week's NSCHSAA meet, filled out the Long Island half of the top four.

With 150 meters left, Hazzard darted to the lead from the second lane, leaving Mituniewicz (who finished fourth) and the rest of the field unable to cope with Hazzard's finishing kick. Dearie marveled at how Hazzard could overcome the lost shoe to beat a stacked field.

"Everything went wrong in the race," Dearie said. "He was supposed to go out hard, so that only people of his ability could be around him."

With the shoe hindering his start, Hazzard was forced to improvise a new race plan. That, according to Dearie, is the mark of an elite runner.

"He is just so tough," Dearie said. "I've never seen anyone stay at that level with one shoe."

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