Max Haynia of Westhampton was greeted with a spike to the leg as the state public school Class B championship race began last month in upstate Verona.
Sometimes cross country can get rough and tumble — through no fault of anyone but the close-quartered nature of the sport — and this wasn’t any different.
“I just sat in there,” Haynia said. “I didn’t get out as hard as everyone else. I got spiked up, but it didn’t matter. The adrenaline was going. You don’t feel the blood.”
By the end of the 5-kilometer course, the only spikes Haynia could feel were his own hitting the soft ground and the only people he could see were the fans lining the entrance to the final straightaway. The senior, who will run at Army next year, won the state public school Class B championship in 16 minutes, 9.7 seconds. His closest competitor — Brewster’s Patrick Ford — was 20.1 seconds behind him.
Even while running alone for the final two miles of the 3.1-mile race, Haynia was careful not to lose focus. Who knew if his leg was still a bit bloodied? He certainly didn’t, nor did he care. He just wanted to keep his lead.
In regards to the lead keeping, a few things ran through his mind. Chief among them was Virginian Drew Hunter’s famous kick at the 2016 Penn Relays. It’s a famous come-from-behind moment in high school track circles and Haynia didn’t want a similar fate to befall him.
“He made up a 100-meter gap in the (distance medley relay),” Haynia said. “I thought ‘that can’t happen to me. I can’t lose this.’ ”
He didn’t. And he didn’t lose two weeks later, either. He won the New York race in 15:57.9 at Nike Cross Regionals at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls on Nov. 26.