Northport's Mike Brannigan wins the boys Class A 5k cross...

Northport's Mike Brannigan wins the boys Class A 5k cross country run with a time of 15:45.68 in the Suffolk Cross Country Championships on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Mike Brannigan's arms remained raised longer than usual. The race was over, but the euphoria had just begun. The Northport senior was the Suffolk Class A champion, finishing the 5-kilometer race in 15 minutes, 45.68 seconds at the Suffolk Championships on Friday at Sunken Meadow State Park.

This was more than a victory. This was redemption. Only a week ago, he had sprinted out in front at the beginning of the Division I race, only to lose steam in the second half and finish third. But in a sport in which success can be fickle, fleeting and hard to find, Brannigan wasted little time regaining his stride, going out more conservatively and finding out that, yes, sometimes less is more.

"I stayed loose and relaxed, stayed with the front pack for the first mile, and then blew everyone away in the last mile and a half," Brannigan said. "I learned from last week."

The time is Brannigan's personal best at Sunken Meadow and the fourth fastest in the history of the course. St. Anthony's John Gregorek holds the top mark, running 15:32 in 1977, coach Jason Strom said.

The race acted as Suffolk's state qualifier. Brannigan will return to the New York Public School Championships, scheduled for next Saturday at SUNY Canton. The race will be another shot at redemption.

Last year, Brannigan fell 0.3 seconds short of a state title, bested only by Fayetteville-Manlius' Bryce Miller. This year's race will take place 364 days after that late-season disappointment and Brannigan is determined to leave upstate with a championship.

"I'm ready to win the state title," he said.

Sachem North won the team title in a nail-biter and will represent Class A at the state championships. A sixth-man tiebreaker was needed to top Ward Melville. Dan Stretz finished 24th in 17:25.16 and allowed the Flaming Arrows to continue their season. John Onken was the top finisher for Sachem North, finishing third in 16:42.31. The title is the first since 1996 and the first since the Sachem district split into two high schools, coach William Holl said.

Shoreham-Wading River's Matt Gladysz won the Class B championship in 16:55.60. Gladysz is the fifth consecutive Wildcat to win an individual county title, coach Bob Szymanski said.

"There's so much history in our program, Gladysz said. "There was a lot [riding] on me continuing this tradition and I pulled through."

Bayport-Blue Point won the Class B team title.

Port Jefferson's James Burke won the Class C championship in 16:57.40. Southampton took the team title, its first since 1951, coach Eddie Arnold said.

Southold's Owen Klipstein won the Class D championship in 18:21.23. Southold also won the team championship.


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