South Side's Kieran McCarthy, left, edges Jericho's Jose Velasquez to...

South Side's Kieran McCarthy, left, edges Jericho's Jose Velasquez to win the boys Division II Nassau County Cross Country Championship. (Oct. 26, 2013) Credit: Richard T. Slattery

In a 5k, the final 1,000 meters are always the toughest. At least that's what South Side's Kieran McCarthy has found. After losing multiple times this season in that final stretch, McCarthy had just about enough.

"I've lost a number of races within the last 1,000 meters," McCarthy said. "I knew that the County Championship wasn't the day to do that again."

Thanks to an extra degree of patience and a move in the final 200 meters, McCarthy erased the ills of his prior close losses. The junior won the individual Class II title in 16 minutes, 45.7 seconds at the Nassau Class County Championships Saturday at Bethpage State Park.

McCarthy said he stayed within the first ten runners early in the race while making sure to keep the leaders in sight.

"The pack started to separate a mile into the race," McCarthy said. "It was me, Tim Josephs from Garden City and Jericho's Jose Velasquez. I did a lot of research before the race. I knew they were going to be my challengers. I looked at their times and figured I could hang with them for awhile."

Two and a half miles into the race, McCarthy realized he was in good position.

"When we got onto the polo grounds, [Velasquez] was right on my back," McCarthy said.

But instead of fading, McCarthy only got stronger.

"It was a mental game," McCarthy said. "I knew that I could give [Velasquez] a little leeway and I would be able to take him later in the race. My pacing was right where I wanted it to be."

Syosset won the Class I title, scoring 32 points. The Braves took five of the first ten places. Junior Tyler Italiano won in 16:16.9.

"I got out a litter faster than the pace and stayed with the front guys in the pack," Italiano said. "I pulled away at the base of the second hill on the course, we call it Pride Hill. I felt like I had a lot left, so I started to pick it up. On the polo fields, I knew I would close with everything I had left."

And that's what he did. By the polo fields, Italiano held a considerable lead.

"I was decently ahead, so I was just trying to get time and exhaust anything I had left," he said.

Wantagh won the team title in Class II, scoring 59 points. Rich Monaco finished seventh, tops among his teammates in 17:08.4. Andrew Bloniarz finished 11th in 17:19.9.

Seaford's Joe Miller battled afternoon wind on his way to the Class III individual title. Miller, a senior, won in 16:42.2.

"In the windy spots, I tucked behind another runner," Miller said. "They would block the wind for me and get more tired than I was. When we got into the woods, I could pass right by them."

North Shore won the Class III team championship with 53 points. Travis Laderer finished in 17:01.8. Peter Dayre finished in 17:40.7

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months