For runners, victory often lies in the details. No movement is too small, no motion too inconsequential for extreme inspection. So, as Connetquot’s Bryana Padula lined up for the 55-meter hurdles at Sunday’s Suffolk Large School girls track championships, she made sure to focus — not only on the finish line, the hurdles, or her fast feet — but also on her arms.
“I’ve been working after practice on my arms, and little things that have been slowing me down,” Padula said. “Prior to the last two meets, my arms would swing behind me when I hurdled. I’ve been working on keeping my arms tucked by my sides when I go over the hurdles.”
Padula pumped those arms, moved her feet and avoided the hurdles as if they were only pebbles on the ground as she strode toward an 8.31-second victory at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.
Later, Padula won the 300 in 41.28 seconds and placed second in the triple jump (35 feet, 9 inches). Smithtown East’s Grace Young won it, flying 37 feet, 1 inch.
In her hurdles victory, Padula shot off the starting line, leaving the rest of the field behind as she bounded effortlessly toward the finish.
“We’ve also been working on my starts — how I drive out of the blocks and how many steps I take to the first hurdle,” Padula said. “I was the first one out of the blocks. My reaction time has improved a lot. I’m quick. I’ve worked on my turnover and it’s improved a lot. It really matters how much you get your first foot out to the floor, because it picks up your momentum for all your other steps.”
Padula was one of two athletes to win two individual events. Whitman’s Antoinette Miller took the 55 dash in 7.32 seconds and cleared 5 feet, 2 inches to win the high jump.
Miller overcame a less than ideal start to win the 55, slowly advancing past the field as the finish line approached.
“My start wasn’t the best, but it’s all about the finish and how you end it,” Miller said. “I don’t look left or right when I run, but I could feel them next to me and knew that I had to push harder. I had to keep pushing until I saw my name on the board.”
Sachem East won its second consecutive championship, scoring 72 points. Connetquot was second with 63. Sachem East’s Lauren Harris, who set the national high school record in the 1,500-meter race walk last weekend, won her signature event in 7:02.69.
“Winning counties was the ultimate goal for all of us,” Harris said. “Putting the team before ourselves got everyone here and I wouldn’t have wanted today to go any other way.”