Max Haynia of Westhampton crosses the finish line in first...

Max Haynia of Westhampton crosses the finish line in first place at the Suffolk cross country division championships on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at Sunken Meadow State Park. Credit: Dawn McCormick

On an unseasonably warm late October day, Max Haynia was feeling it. Oh yes, he was in his predictable pose, crossing the finish line a winner at the Suffolk boys cross country division championships Tuesday afternoon but, even 20 minutes after the victory, the Westhampton senior was still in awe at the sheer difficulty of the prior 20-some-odd minutes.

“That was the toughest race of my life. I was happy I finished that,” said Haynia, who ran the 5-kilometer course at Sunken Meadow State Park in 16 minutes, 38.1 seconds to capture a race that pits the best runners in Suffolk against each other, regardless of classification.

Why so tough? A few things made it so. First, Haynia has been battling a sinus infection since Friday – one that was initially so bad that he took Saturday off completely to try and shake it.

“My body was just not in it,” Haynia said. “My body didn’t feel the same going around the picnic area as it usually does.”

Second, the course was unusually difficult, Haynia said. Monday’s rain required park personnel to place some extra dirt on some portions of the course – including the punishing Cardiac Hill. A slow course, punctuated by a fast start, made for a rough day of running. It’s something that Haynia, who entered Tuesday ranked 17th in the state and second in Class B  according to speed ratings found on tullyrunners.com, hopes won’t happen at  the Suffolk state qualifier Nov. 4.

“I’m just gong to take it as, ‘I gutted out the win,’” Haynia said. “I think it was just one of those days. I’m not worried as an individual about next week….For me, I just have to get better from this sickness. That’s my main goal, and working on what I’ve been doing – keeping my mileage high and just grinding out workouts, just trying to keep everything how it was and peak for states and [Nike Cross Regionals both in November]”

Northport won the overall team title. Timothy Sheahan was their highest finisher, placing fifth in 17:13.8.

On the girls side, Floyd sophomore Zariel Macchia won in 18:38.3. Macchia, who is ranked eighth in the state and fifth in Class A according to tullyrunners.com, was happy with her performance despite the heat – which hovered in the low-70’s with little cloud cover – and course conditions.

“I think I did a good job going out hard, which was my plan going into this race,” Macchia said. “I wanted to go out hard to prepare for the later [postseason] races…I took somewhat of a recovery going into Snake [Hill] when it flattens out and then we did a good job pushing it the rest of the way and not letting up after that.”  

Sayville won the team championship. Mullane Baumiller was their highest finisher, placing second in 20:03.0.

Bayport-Blue Point’s Sophia McInnes, who went out with Macchia and is ranked 11th in the state, passed out as she was leaving the bridge onto the home straightaway. She was attended to by paramedics and was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, where she was doing "fine," according to Bayport-Blue Point coach Vin Ungaro.  

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