Jaheim Dotson couldn’t sleep. At the beginning of the season, there was so much the Longwood senior wanted to do, and he only had a year to do it. It was, at once, exciting and daunting.
“I used to stay up all night thinking about what I had to do to become one of the best in the state and the county,” he said.
But soon, Dotson had a realization. He was still fast, still among the best short-distance runners on Long Island and, thusly, more than capable of staying at the top. It was then that Dotson said he returned to form.
“Now that counties are here and I’m facing better competition, I’m feeling a little more confident,” Dotson said. “The competition makes me want to push even more and makes me faster.”
Dotson’s default form is a winning one and, although he is a year older, that hasn’t changed. He wrapped up his final indoor county championships with three more victories, a 7.52-second triumph in the 55-meter hurdles, a come-from-behind 34.93-second win in the 300, and a 22-foot, 5-inch flight in the long jump at the Suffolk Large School track and field championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Friday night.
Dotson passed Huntington’s Johnathan Smith with 30 meters left in the 300, emerging victorious in a battle of two of Suffolk’s best athletes. Smith was second in 34.99 seconds.
“Johnathan is a wonderful runner,” Dotson said. “He’s just as good as me, so I knew I couldn’t sleep on him. If I did that, I knew he was going to win. So I wanted to stay cool, calm, and collected and run my race … I just had to shift to another gear and give it my all.”
Dotson’s 55 hurdles win was a little more dominant, with the senior capturing a personal best time and leaving no doubt as to his prowess in his signature event. Bellport’s Kyler Pizzo finished second in 7.88 seconds.
“I ran as fast as I could and pumped my arm as fast as I could through each hurdle,” Dotson said.
Huntington won the team championship with 77 points, a return to prominence after two indoor seasons without a county title. It was their first large school county title in program history, coach Ron Wilson said.
The Blue Devils took the first three places in the 600, with Isaiah James winning in 1:25.14, CJ Kiviat placing second in 1:25.51, and Justin Stevens taking third in 1:25.68.
The trifecta is exactly what Huntington wanted. Even among the top three places, the 600 was a competitive race. Kiviat passed James on the final lap before James took the lead back on the final straightaway.
“When we all came on the straightaway, I had the energy,” James said. “We said before the race that, once we hit that third lap, we would just give it everything.”
James, Stevens, Kiviat, and Smith also won the 4 x 400 relay in 3:31.61.
Elsewhere, North Babylon’s Christian Fils-Aime won the 55 meters in 6.52 seconds. After running a 6.73 in the prelims, Fils-Aime was placed in the fifth lane for the finals, a difficult, if not sometimes insurmountable draw.
“You know you’re not the favorite to win, so it’s a mentality kind of thing,” Fils-Aime said. “You keep your head in it. Right before the start, I said I was going to put as much as I could into this start and I jumped off with my full force.”