Miller Place’s Thomas Cirrito had no intentions of playing games. A cross country race in October sometimes allows runners enough leeway to feel out the field, try something new, or wait for a race to develop. But, Cirrito wanted no part of that. He didn’t want a race, he wanted a win.
And, thanks to a hard and unmerciful start, Cirrito got what he wanted. The junior won the Class B race in 16 minutes, 59.56 seconds at the Suffolk State Qualifier at Sunken Meadow State Park Friday afternoon. The victory qualified Cirrito for the state public school championships, scheduled for Saturday at Sunken Meadow.
“I knew what the race was going to be like,” Cirrito said. “I just decided that I wanted to take it out as hard as I could and take no chances. I could have stayed back a little bit, but I just decided before the race – just as a competitor – that I wanted to get away as fast as I could.”
Cirrito did just that. His teammate, Blake Buscemi, was second in 17:27.77.
Saturday will mark Cirrito’s third time at the public school state championships. Cirrito ran a 17:59.6 at last year’s championship in Ontario Center.
This year, with the meet at Suffolk’s home course, Cirrito is a lot more confident.
“I’m very excited,” Cirrito said. “It’s going to be kind of like redemption. Last year, I was way behind where I wanted to be. So this year, with it being at the home course, I’ll just go out and hopefully finish as high as possible. I’m going to compete to try and win.”
It’s no secret at this point that Sunken Meadow is one of the hardest courses in that state. It’s not that hard to figure out why, either. Cardiac Hill is, simply put, one of the hardest single obstacles there is anywhere in the sport.
“All of a sudden, out of nowhere, you just see this huge hill,” Cirrito said. “That’s when it really becomes mental. It’s like, who can get over it and who’s going to drop off?”
Cirrito hopes it isn’t him. He said he hopes to run in the low-16’s and finish in the top-five next week.