Wheatley’s Zach Calabrese heard nothing but yells. And that’s when he knew something was up. As Calabrese came up to the final turn in the Class C race at the Nassau State Qualifier at Bethpage State Park on Saturday, he was informed by enthusiastic onlookers that the 5-kilometer race was about to get a lot tougher.
“I heard everyone screaming, so I knew I had to speed up,” Calabrese said. “I knew someone was picking up on me.”
It was Oyster Bay’s Aidan Doxey who was giving Calabrese a mighty good fight. But Calabrese was able to hold him off, winning in 18 minutes, 2.83 seconds. Doxey clocked in 18:09.43. The victory qualified Calabrese for the state Public School Championships next Saturday at Chenango Valley State Park in Chenango Forks.
It will be Calabrese’s third consecutive trip to the public school state championships, he said.
“When it’s that big a field, you always have to start out fast,” Calabrese said of his past state championship experience. “You don’t want to be stuck behind a giant pack, where you can’t move up. Anytime someone tries to pass you, you just have to stay with you and secure your place.”
The win was a welcome culmination to a difficult season for Calabrese, whose summer training was significantly dampened by a bout with mononucleosis.
“I was pretty sick at the beginning of the season,” Calabrese, who estimated that he missed the first three weeks of the season, said. “I had to build myself back up to where I was last year. I’m excited to see that I came back and beat it.”
Calabrese said that he didn’t start to feel like his old self until mid-October.
“I was running really slow in the beginning of the season,” Calabrese said. “I kept practicing and built back up to it. All my summer training got thrown off . . . I thought this season was going to be ruined because of it, but I’m really happy to be back.”
Oyster Bay won both the boys and girls Class C team titles.
Wheatley’s Brianna O’Brien won the girls Class C race in 18:54.81. In her first year of cross country, O’Brien is top-ranked in state Class C, according to rankings on the website Tullyrunners.
“Today was another opportunity to just get out and run,” O’Brien, who hasn’t faced a lot of serious competition this season, said. “I was just getting in the mindset of racing next week. It will definitely get difficult. I’ll be facing competition that I’ve never faced.”
East Meadow’s Timothy Euler won the boys Class A race in 16:12.03. Syosset (38 points) won the team championship. Garden City’s Trevor Marchhart won Class B in 16:21.20 and Manhasset (36 points) won the team championship.
Port Washington’s Maria Kogan won the girls Class A race in 19:18.68. Syosset (36 points) took the team title. Great Neck North’s Samantha Law won Class B in 19:00.77, with Manhasset (35 points) taking the team crown.