Chibugo Obichere has her sights set on the repeat.
The Valley Stream South senior and defending New York State champion in the girls 55-meter hurdles won the event in 8.09 seconds at the Nassau state qualifiers Thursday night at St. Anthony’s. She earned a spot in the state championships March 2 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.
“I definitely want to be state champion again,” Obichere said. “Federation champ also. And it’s about times. I definitely want to run a sub-8.”
Obichere, who also qualified in the 55 dash with a second-place finish (7.32), said her mindset was the key to returning to the state championships.
“It was definitely about coming out aggressive,” Obichere said. “A lot of times I get to the third hurdle and just run through, but I definitely needed to come out aggressive and finish through.”
Valley Stream Central’s Olivia Miller (8.37) and Zaria Fuller of Uniondale (8.42) finished second and third and qualified.
Miller came up with an impressive win in the 55 (7.17) moments later to punch her second ticket to Ocean Breeze. “My nerves were all over the place,” Miller said. “But my coach always tells me the race is 90 percent mental.”
Miller, a freshman, has been running track since seventh grade and likes her chances as she prepares for her first opportunity at a state title.
“I’m always going to put more work in at the gym,” she said. “My mentality is to do the same thing I did here and run a fast time. I feel like I have a good chance of coming in the top three.”
South Side’s Carly Woelfel broke away about three minutes into the 3,000 and earned a dominant victory in 10:36.26. She said being the top seed in the race shifted her outlook after being a lower seed in her most recent 3,000.
“Usually you can feed off being the underdog because you think you might lose,” Woelfel said. “Here being the first seed was a little intimidating, but when I warmed up I remembered to be calm and collected.”
On the boys side, Uniondale senior Malik Barrett earned his first trip to the state championships by winning the 55 hurdles (7.86). Jayden Francis of Hewlett placed second (8.05).
“This is great,” Barrett said. “I’ve come a long way. Earlier in the season I wasn’t even running sub-8.”
His teammate Giordano Williams secured a come-from-behind victory in the 55 (6.66). Gianni Macchio of Mepham and Freeport’s Justin Lescouflair (6.72) will join him on Staten Island.
“I wanted to get off to a good start, but that didn’t happen,” Williams said. “So I had to fight my way from the back.”
Seaford’s Jason Linzer made a late push of his own in the final few laps of the 3,200 before comfortably taking it in 9:35.27. Thomas Buford of North Shore ran second (9:51.78).
Other winners included MacArthur’s Timmy Weber in the boys 1,000 (2:37.93) and Angeline Caamano of Manhasset in the girls 1,000 (3:01.66). Syosset’s Mayu Iio won the girls 1,500 (4:52.64), and North Shore’s Jack Rosencrans won the boys 1,600 (4:32.35).