The haunting sense of déjà vu was unavoidable. With 1,000 meters left in last Saturday’s Class A race at the Nassau State Qualifier at Bethpage State Park, East Meadow’s Tim Euler was fighting for control of the race. Only a week before, a late kick by Syosset’s Peter Zimbalist had robbed Euler of a Nassau Class I County championship — and he wasn’t about to let that happen again.
“I really opened up my stride and tried pulling away from everybody,” Euler, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week, recalled. “Then, at the back corner, I looked over my shoulder, saw I had a pretty decent lead, and started sprinting home.”
The sprint was certainly understandable. There was no way Euler was going to get caught again — not with a trip to the state public school championships on the line, and not with the memories of the previous defeat fresh in his mind.
Euler won the 5-kilometer race in 16 minutes, 12.03 seconds, 8.21 seconds ahead of Mepham’s James Moehringer. The time was the second fastest on Bethpage’s 5k course this season, East Meadow coach Michael Ringhauser said.
“I think it was about saving enough in the legs and having enough energy to have a kick at the end,” Euler said. “I laid back in the beginning and middle of the race and unleashed a big kick toward the end of the race.”
The victory qualified Euler for Saturday’s state public school championships at Chenango Valley State Park in Chenango Forks. It will be the second consecutive year that Euler has run at the prestigious event.
Euler has experience running the Chenango Valley course, something he believes will help him greatly on Saturday. He finished third in 16:23.8 in the third varsity race at the McDaniel-Baxter Invitational, also known as the Pre-State Invitational, on Sept. 24.
His time was the 19th fastest overall in that meet, one that featured more than 1,000 finishers.
“Having knowledge of the course is definitely an advantage,” Euler said. “I know how to make the right moves and how to manage the course. I feel really comfortable with it and I think it’s going to play into my favor.”
The course, Euler said, starts out flat, with the majority of the heavy lifting coming in the final mile.
“The first two miles are mostly flat,” he said. “In the third mile, there are a few pretty good hills. But, at that point in the race, I’m in a nice groove and the hills don’t really affect me as much as they would if they were in the beginning of the race.”
Euler’s stated goal is to receive all-state honors, which would require a top 20 finish. He is currently the 21st fastest Class A runner in the state, according to rankings released Monday on the website Tullyrunners.
“I’m right there on the bubble,” he said.