The time before the starting gun is one of serenity for Longwood's Dayshaun Taylor. The senior isn't nervous, he isn't anxious, and he isn't jumpy. For a few short moments, it's just Taylor, alone with his thoughts before the business of winning gets underway.
"I like to picture myself alone on the track," Taylor said. "Seeing myself alone gives me time to think, clear my mind, and feel free. When I'm free, I feel as if I've run my best."
Taylor was all alone at the finish line as well, winning the 55 meters in 6.67 seconds at the Suffolk League I championship Saturday at Suffolk CC-Brentwood. The victory helped Longwood take the team title, scoring 116 points and topping Sachem North by nine.
The opening second of the sprint was key to Taylor's victory.
"I had a great start," he said. "It was one of my best starts this season. That had a big impact on my race. I was alert, on point, paid attention, and shot off with the gun."
Taylor, who said that he has been unhappy with his starts this season, sees Saturday as a perfect jumping off point for the rest of the season.
"I'm ready for counties," he said. "Today prepared me, attitude wise. I know my competition and I know what I have to do to beat them. I have to have the attitude that I cannot be beat and, if I am beat, I'm not going down without a fight."
After winning the 55, Taylor walked over to the long jump pit. Despite fatigue, the senior won with a 21 foot, nine and a half inch flight.
"My third jump, I popped a good one," Taylor said. "I got the 'W,' so I feel good about it. You just got to go out and do it. I don't think about energy. I think about taking my jumps and racing at all times."
High finishes in field events were a big reason why Longwood left the track champions. Glenn Reddick won the high jump, clearing 6-2.
"I ran in, got a good pop, and arched my back," Reddick said. "I had to get up high and pull my head back. That pulls my hips over the bar."
Longwood took three of the top five places in the shot put. Corey Murphy placed second with a toss of 54-10. Dennis Russell was third, throwing 54-1. Joe Rehal was fifth, tossing 45-4.
The rivalry between Murphy and Russell, who are both seniors, is a friendly one, but one that pushes them to out-hurl the other.
"He usually beat me during the first two years of shot-put, but this year I've turned it around on him," Murphy said.
With the Suffolk Large School championship one week away, Longwood is feeling confident, ready for a battle with Northport, who won League II Saturday.
"We'll be better next week," Nigel Riley, who placed second in the triple jump, said.