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Damato, Coneys are winners at Smithtown Invitational

Whitman's Michael Damato pulls away from Smithtown West's

Whitman's Michael Damato pulls away from Smithtown West's Patrick McGuire to win the boys 1600m. (April 28, 2012) Credit: George A. Faella

Here's the long and short of it all: two long distance races came down to short sprints.

Whitman's Michael Damato held off a frantic late surge to win the 1,600 at yesterday's Smithtown Invitational, while Cameron Coneys of Harborfields used a blistering kick with one lap to go to win the 3,200.

Damato clocked a 4:28.51 to win the 1,600, holding off Patrick McGuire of Smithtown West (4:28.88) by a scant .37 seconds.

"I didn't know he was that close," Damato said. "But once I knew, I needed to start picking it up and push it through."

The fact that Damato had to survive a late kick was fitting, as the junior used a bit of a late move to get to the lead in the first place. After the lead pack came through the first 800 meters in a slow 2:18, Damato passed John McMullin of St. Anthony's to take the lead with about a lap and a half left.

"The first half was a little slow," said Damato, who was a second shy of his best of 4:27.53. "But my main goal was to just stay with the leaders and then gap everyone at the end."

Damato was able to put a gap on everyone but McGuire, who kicked it in with 100 left. By then, though, it was too little too late.

Earlier, the 3,200 was decided by a similar last-lap push -- but this time, the kick was successful, as Coneys won the 3,200 in 9:32.53. Matt Taddeo of St. Anthony's took second in 9:36.55.

The Harborfields senior was in fifth with two laps to go, but made an aggressive move in lane two to move up to second. He took the lead from Taddeo with 400 to go and never looked back.

"I've been sort of off my mark all season," Coneys said. "I just tried to be a little more aggressive, and it paid off."

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