With damp weather permeating the Sunken Meadow State Park course, the stars came out to run in the Suffolk division cross country championship Thursday afternoon — and they did not disappoint.
On the boys side, Northport’s Isaiah Claiborne rose out of a loaded field and crossed the finish line a convincing victor. He won the 5-kilometer race, one that pits the top runners in the county against each other regardless of class, in 16 minutes, 22.89 seconds, 9.53 seconds ahead of Shelter Island’s Kal Lewis.
The race featured runners with four of the five fastest times in the state, according to milesplit.com. Lewis had the fastest time in the state (15:27.27). Claiborne was third (15:32.06), as of Thursday morning. “I was excited because I finally got to race Kal Lewis,” Claiborne said.
Claiborne said he led the race early and was passed by Lewis on the moat. Lewis kept the lead until the always-challenging Cardiac Hill, when Claiborne regained the advantage on the down slope.
“After Cardiac, I started pushing the lead a little bit more and then looked back to see what kind of gap I had,” Claiborne said. “I never felt comfortable. I was always ready to get back on my heels and start racing a lot faster.”
Lewis said he knew Claiborne would be tough to beat.
“My coach told me that [Claiborne] was a half-mile timer,” Lewis said. “I guarantee that my half-mile time is not as good as his. I tried to stick with him as much as I could, but he just lost me in the horseshoe.”
Northport won the team competition with 34 points. Claiborne’s teammate, Dan O’Connor, was third in 16:32.82, less than one second behind Lewis.
Shoreham-Wading River’s Katherine Lee won the girls race in 18:24.45. Bay Shore’s Roshni Singh was second in 19:06.84. It was Lee’s fourth consecutive division championship, a title that she hopes is only the first of many as she puts a bow on her senior season.
“It’s surreal,” said Lee, who committed to Georgetown earlier this month. “As an eighth-grader, I remember coming in seventh and being like, ‘Wow, who are these other girls who are so phenomenal?’ My eighth-grade year, it was Miller Place’s Tiana Guevara, who was breaking records and doing amazing things. To be winning something that she won and so many other great girls won, and to win it four times, is so exciting for me. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”
Mount Sinai won the girls team title with 90 points, led by Sarah Connelly, who was third in 19:18.20.