A welcome wrench has been thrown into John Meah’s indoor track preparation. The past two seasons, the second weekend of November has meant cross country recovery and winter workout planning for the East Meadow junior. But, not this year. No, this year Meah still has some use for trips around the winding 5-kilometer path that dominates his summer and fall life.
Thanks to a sixth place finish in last weekend’s Nassau State Qualifier, Meah will be making the long trek to Ontario Center, about 20 miles outside of Rochester, to compete in the Class A state public school cross country championship on Saturday.
“I’m very excited to be able to run with some of the best runners in the state and am hoping to have a good week of training leading up to it,” Meah said.
Meah’s week of training kicked off with a long distance tempo run on Monday. He expected to do an easy run Tuesday, workout Wednesday, and finish off the week with easy runs on Thursday and Friday before making the nearly six hour trip up north.
Meah said his current personal best, or ‘PR’, is 16 minutes, 37.18 seconds and would like to break 16:30 this weekend.
“It’s a mix of both [nerves and excitement],” Meah said. “I’d really like to PR and my coach [Michael Ringhauser] said I have a shot at all-state and qualifying for Feds. That would be great. But, if I PR, I would be very happy regardless.”
Meah ran his current PR at last weekend’s Nassau state qualifier, using a strong kick to make up for a less-than-ideal start.
“I felt like I got out a little weak, but I made up for it on the polo fields,” he said. “The plan was just to stick with the Syosset and Manhasset pack that was formed in the beginning. But, I fell back a little bit.”
When his legs started to fall a bit behind the pack at the 800 meter mark, Meah was worried, but didn’t give up.
“I just thought ‘I’ll see what I can do later in the race,’” he said. “I was able to make up for it.”
About two miles into the race, right before hitting the baseball field, Meah zoomed into high gear and made a mad-dash for the state championships.
“My kick had always been my strongest suit,” he said. “During the track season, I’m more of a mid-distance runner. So, I think that training makes me better at the ends of races.”
Meah was at the forefront of multiple successful East Meadow team efforts. The Jets won the Nassau Class I team championship with 45 points on Oct. 28. Meah was the second individual to cross the finish line in that race, passing through Bethpage State Park in 16:59.05.
It was the first county championship, in cross country or track, in the school’s history. East Meadow also had a 13-0 conference meet record, after going 12-1 in three of the previous five years, Ringhauser said.
“We worked together greatly,” Meah said. “Everyone really wanted to be conference champions, and I think us being close and really wanted to get that together really helped up achieve that goal.”