Last season, Sachem North’s Christopher Tibbetts was still working out the kinks in the 1,000 meters. A pure distance runner, Tibbetts needed time to figure out the finer racing points of a hybrid event that merges distance with speed.
“It’s a very tough race, because not a lot of distance runners have speed and not a lot of distance runners have endurance,” Tibbetts said.
Tibbetts seemed to figure it out nicely, however, eventually placing fourth at last year’s indoor state championships. This season, Tibbetts is in even more command of the event and has loftier state championship goals.
And he’s off to a great start.
Tibbetts, who was named Newsday’s Long Island cross country Runner of the Year in the fall, won the event in a personal-best two minutes, 31.29 seconds at the Molloy Stanner Games at The Armory in Manhattan Saturday morning. The time broke the Sachem North school record of 2:32.6 set by Anthony Coccia in 2014, coach Billy Holl said.
“I sat on someone for a quarter of a lap and realized that the pace was too slow,” Tibbetts said. “I couldn’t make it a kick race, we’re going for time in the 1,000 this year. I just kept hammering, ran it how [Holl] told me to run it, and was hearing splits from him.”
Tibbetts and St. Anthony’s Matthew Payamps came to the final two laps in a virtual tie, with the Sachem North senior holding the slightest of an edge. That edge slowly increased as the race wrapped up, with Tibbetts pulling away comfortably as he approached the final straightaway.
“The last lap, I was able to put all my power down,” Tibbetts said. “I had a little bit of a gap. In a race this close, it is very tough to close the gap. I could not have closed the gap if I was in some of the other runners’ position. It was a great race. It was a race to watch.”
Payamps was third in 2:33.61. Fordham Prep’s Conor Hughes was second in 2:32.88.
The magnitude of the race, Tibbetts’ first 1,000 of the indoor season, was so large that he strategized with for Holl for nearly a week and a half.
“Last year, I ran a 2:32 at the state meet,” Tibbetts said. “I was very happy with that. [Holl] said ‘Listen, first time out, you can break that.’ He put me in a fast race, and I went for it.”
Huntington’s Kyree Johnson followed up his 55-meter win at Wednesday’s Millrose Games Trials with a 33.85 victory in the 300. Johnson’s teammate, Lawrence Leake, won the 600 in 1:21.35, the fastest time in the nation, according to milesplit.com.
Johnson and Leake, along with Shane McGuire and eighth-grader Anthony Joseph won the 4 x 400-meter relay in 3:21.40.
New Hyde Park’s Danny Diaz won the shot put, tossing 49-7.
Northport’s Isaih Claiborne finished second in the Invitational 3,200 in 9:28.57. New Jersey Watchung Hill’s Ryan Martins won in 9:23.0.