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Amityville's Vincent Jackson draws strength from Brittney Walsh to win

Amityville's Vincent Jackson wins the 300-meter dash in

Amityville's Vincent Jackson wins the 300-meter dash in 36.99 seconds at the Suffolk Boysl Small School Track Championships. (Feb. 2, 2013) Credit: Daniel De Mato

Amityville's Vincent Jackson had one thought before taking off in the 300 meters at Saturday's Suffolk Small Schools Championships -- do it for Brittney.

His close friend, Brittney Walsh of Lindenhurst, was driving when she was killed by an alleged drunken driver in June, according to Jackson.

"We were really great friends," Jackson said. "She always told me to run my hardest. She's helped me and I know she's still helping me. I dedicated these races to her. During the race, I focus on running, but I know that I can't let her down."

With that thought in mind, Jackson won the 300 in 36.99 seconds, a crucial victory en route to Amityville's Small Schools county title, won with 75 points, at Suffolk CC-Brentwood.

"I didn't panic when [Huntington's Y'Majesty Allen] came around the last turn," Jackson said. "I just kept my composure and my form."

He also won the long jump, flying 21 feet, 4 1/4 inches.

Jackson not only keeps Walsh in his thoughts during meets, he keeps her on his shoes. Written in black marker on his multicolored cleats is the message, "give me strength Brittney."

Drawn on the shoes is a smile -- a constant reminder of one of Walsh's favorite mantras.

"Her motto was 'in a world full of Cheerios, be a Fruit Loop,' " he said. "She encouraged me to be myself and be different."

Jackson also wears one of Walsh's wristbands.

"She's still part of my life," he said. "I won't let her go."

Last weekend, Jackson's team fell just short of winning the Suffolk League V title. Saturday, they weren't going to let a championship chance go by.

"It definitely [fueled us]," Jackson said of last week's loss. "[Bayport-Blue Point] really showed up at league champs. We didn't do that well. We came here and we showed up. We didn't focus so much on team scoring as much as we did on individual performances. It just came together at the end."

Senior Artneil Reid finished second to Jackson in the long jump, landing 20-93/4 away from the starting line.

"I wasn't thinking about winning or losing," Reid said. "I just wanted to get a good jump because this is my last county meet. I just put everything I had into it."

Reid, who finally got to taste glory before graduation, was reflective following the meet -- realizing what he and his team had accomplished.

"This is the experience of a lifetime," he said. "A lot of people don't get to do this. We're grateful for it."

Senior Jahmal Burt won the triple jump at 43-31/2.

O'Neil Armstrong and David Holmes scored points in the 55-meter hurdles. Armstrong finished second in 8.05 seconds and David Holmes finished fourth in 8.38.

Earlier in the afternoon, Northport won the Large Schools championship, scoring 82 points.

James Dickinson, Mike Brannigan, Tim McGowan, and David Hatch took the top four places in the 1,600 meters, giving their team 28 points.

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