Commack’s Amanda McNelis gets locked in when the crowds start to dissipate.
That’s because she’s among the best in the state and outlasted all her competition to claim her place in the state championships with a winning 12-foot pole vault at the Suffolk County track and field state qualifiers in Port Jefferson Saturday. It capped a long day that started with her victory in the 100-meter hurdles in 15.09 seconds and ended with the vaults that became a little bit trying in the warm weather.
“I got pretty tired toward the end,” she said. “Once we got to 12 feet it was pretty tiring.”
But McNelis kept going, aiming for 12-6. Though she failed on her three attempts, she maintained her form, sprinting down the straightaway, planting the pole and pulling herself up to the bar.
“I would say the last part of the jump when you have to pull yourself up and turn [is the toughest],” she said. “The run gets you up and gives you the swing, but that [last] part you have to use all of your energy to get [over]. I think that was the part I was kind of lacking toward the end.”
She edged West Islip’s Hanna Battaglini in the 100 hurdles by one-tenth of a second, and gave herself a good idea about how to approach next weekend’s state meet. It’ll be held in the same format as the qualifiers.
“I feel like this was good to figure out how I should spread out my energy between the two events and how much time I should do with warmups for each because that takes out a lot of energy also,” McNelis said. “I definitely think it was good preparation for states.”
She came in fourth in hurdles at last year’s qualifying meet, and seeing the progress she has made over the seasons has brought satisfaction.
“It’s pretty amazing,” McNelis said. “I’ve been working really hard and I think it shows that all my hard work has paid off over the last four years.”
Connetquot’s Kelly Iocca led wire-to-wire in the 2,000 steeplechase, winning in 6:53.10. She worked on her hurdling this week and it paid off in her consistency, especially in the water pit.
“I did get over the water jump today with a little more confidence,” she said.
Sachem East’s Lauren Harris topped her own 2,000 race-walk national record of 6:22.96 with a 6:17.20 finish. Shoreham-Wading River’s Katherine Lee won the 1,500 in 4:26.37, a meet record.