There was a target on Isaiah Paige. But it wasn't on his back, it was on his shoulder. The Valley Stream North junior was the top seed in the 55-meter hurdles during Tuesday night's Nassau Class B Championships at St. Anthony's and everyone knew it . . . mainly because there was a giant "1" plastered across Paige's shoulder blade.
"I was talking to some of the guys before the race and they knew that I had the first seed," Paige said. "I heard they were coming for me. That made me want to push faster. They were joking with me. They were lighthearted. But I knew that they really wanted that first position, too."
And Paige wasn't in any mood to give it up. He knew he had to balance his title as "favorite" with the unpredictable nature of a race that short.
"I was confident," Paige said. "But I also knew that anything could happen in that race. I was aware of my competition. But when it came down to it, I felt pretty good."
The seed sheet didn't lie, or perhaps more accurately, Paige didn't let it. He won the event in 8.24 seconds. The victory helped Valley Stream North win the team title, scoring 71 points and outpacing Hewlett by 20.
After running an 8.23 in the preliminaries, 0.18 seconds faster than the next-highest finisher, Paige knew that his chances were very good.
"That gave me a boost," he said. "That gave me a lot of confidence that I hadn't had before. I knew that I was that No. 1 guy, and I was going to get it.
Valley Stream North won one other event on their way to the title. The 4 x 800-meter relay team, composed of Peter Wilk, Vincent Russo, Matthew Cinnamo and Jake Catalano finished first in 8:40.34.
Wilk was also second in the 1,600, running a 4:38.27. Friends Academy's Glenn Lostritto won in 4:36.53.
"I was patient and ran my race, instead of trying to be the lead dog," Wilk said.
Stephan Jean-Charles was second in the triple jump, flying 43 feet. Island Trees' Andrew Zabala won with a 43-43/4 effort. Zavier Jean-Charles, Stephan's twin brother, was third in the high jump, clearing 5-10. Division's Bjorn Bjornson won at 6-1.