Syosset's Lauren Gruber was preparing for the second day of the Nassau state qualifier for girls track Wednesday night when her phone buzzed. It was a familiar sound, a text message. She looked down and saw a note from former teammate Henna Rustami, who just finished her freshman year running for Columbia.
"She said that I needed to have confidence in myself [and] I just needed to know that I could go out and do it," Gruber said. "What she said really helped. Seeing her succeed in college made me want to come out and show that our program is still doing awesome."
Gruber is a big part of that "awesome." The sophomore won the 2,000-meter steeplechase in 7 minutes, 7.78 seconds at the county state qualifier held Wednesday and Thursday at Roosevelt High School. The time bested her personal record by a whopping 43 seconds, she said.
The win qualified Gruber for the New York State championships scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero.
"I'm beside myself," Gruber said. "Everyone dreams of going to states and the fact that I have the privilege to go is incredible."
Gruber's teammate Carolan Frisina won the pole vault, clearing 9 feet, 6 inches.
While Gruber and Frisina needed only one event to punch their tickets to the state meet, Hewlett's Gabi Schwartz needed five. Schwartz won the pentathlon, competed over both days, with 2,673 points.
Schwartz won the 100 hurdles in 16.56 seconds, placed third in the high jump, fifth in the shot put, third in the long jump, and fifth in the 800. "I started crying when they announced second place and I knew I had first," Schwartz said. "It's just amazing to be able to go to states."
Other winners included Uniondale's Crystal Green in the 100 hurdles in 15.23 and along with Ashley Souffrant, Michala Webster and Kristina Cherrington, the 4 x 400 relay in 3:54.99. Uniondale's 4 x 100 team, composed of Chelsea Desuze, Micah Forehand, Brianna McGregor and Asia Jinks, won in 49.69.
Roosevelt's Ashe Davis won the 100 in 12.61 and the 200 in 25.67. Garden City's Emma Gallagher won the 400 hurdles in 61.94 and the 800 in 2:19.53. Teammate Steph Gerland won the 3,000 in 10:06.23. Calhoun's Grace Moore won the 1,500 in 4:50.24. Friends Academy's Candace Taylor won the 400 in 56.86. Sewanhaka's Celeste Pipia won the discus in 116-9 and the shot put in 41-4.