After both third- and fourth-place finishes at last season’s league championships as a freshman, Hampton Bays runner Darwin Fernandez felt he had something to prove in his return as a sophomore.
And he didn’t disappoint.
“It feels great,” said Fernandez after winning the 600 meters in 1 minute, 27.05 seconds at the Suffolk V championships at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood Saturday.
“It’s kind of a relief to come out and get the win and prove who’s the best in the league,” Fernandez added.
Pressed down the final stretch, Fernandez held off Mount Sinai’s Ryan Wilson, who finished in second in 1:28.69.
“There was a lot of effort in that race,” Fernandez said. “The first lap was a bit easier, then the second one started to heat up. The third one, the last 50 or 60 meters was just all mind games.
“It was hard to be honest. Your legs feel like they’re gonna fall off the last 30 meters, but I felt great getting the win.”
Mount Sinai’s Sean Higgins began the day winning the 3,200 in 10:22.65, marking the senior’s first victory at the league championships. Grant Samara of Port Jefferson placed second in 10:27.08.
“I knew it was gonna come down to the last kick in the last lap, and that’s what happened,” Higgins said. “I just tried to stick with the leaders and outkick them at the end.”
Higgins followed with a strong performance in the 1,600, finishing second with a clocking of 4:49.35, behind Port Jefferson’s Cooper Schoch’s time of 4:47.04.
Higgins was a key contributor in Mount Sinai being able to ultimately run away with the team title with a total of 141 points. Hampton Bays finished second with 74. Bayport-Blue Point placed third with 52.
Shelter Island’s Kal Lewis built a sizeable advantage early in the 1,000 and soared to an impressive win of more than seven seconds in 2:40.29.
“The key was just going out hard and trying to hold,” Lewis said. “I just try to keep myself composed and stay on pace every lap.”
Babylon’s Evan Parise won the 300 (37.58) for the second consecutive year and finished second in the 55 (6.86) behind Luke Rey of Southampton (6.71).
“I started off a little slow,” Parise said. “I started pushing myself and was able to catch up. I realized about a third of the way through the race that I needed to. It was definitely a mental thing.”
Parise was also part of Babylon’s 4x200 relay that won with a time of 1:41.02. Parise teammed with Josiah Morris, Antonio Tufano and Lucas Parise.
Also winning on the track were the team of Connor Joseph, Kevin Lessing, Colin Strain and Michael Freshour for Bayport-Blue Point in the 4x400 relay. Mount Sinai won the 4x800 relay, with Higgins, Wilson, Christian Law and Mario Xerri turning in a time of 8:52.31.
Winners in the field included Kenneth Wei of Mount Sinai in both the long jump (23 feet, 5 inches) and triple jump (45-8 1⁄2), and Quinn Smith of Hampton Bays in the shot put (48-6 3⁄4)