Farrah Wengler of West Babylon leads the pack during the girls...

Farrah Wengler of West Babylon leads the pack during the girls one mile walk at the Nike Indoor Nationals at teh Armory on March 12, 2023. Credit: Louis Lanzano

There had to be a reason why this year’s one-mile girls walk at Nike Indoor Nationals spread out so quickly, and West Babylon’s Farrah Wengler thinks she knows why. It was the moment.

“I think a lot of people had some national nerves,” Wengler said of the event held at The Armory in Manhattan. “The adrenaline made them go a little bit faster before everybody settled in.”

Almost from the gun, the race —  held shortly after 8 a.m. on March 12, the third and final day of one of the country’s premier indoor track and field meets — formed into four distinct sections.

There was eventual winner, Talia Green of California, far out in front, a victory secured. Port Washington’s Samantha Benson-Tyler sat a good distance behind Green in second, and even further back was Wengler, initially walking in third. The rest of the field trailed far behind those three, essentially racing for fourth.

But it was Wengler’s late move past Benson-Tyler that elevated her to an All-American second place in 7 minutes, 54.87 seconds. Green won in 7:14.05. Benson-Tyler was third in 7:55.36. 

“I planned to kick the last 400 [meters],” said Wengler, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “Around the 400 [mark], I started to pick it up and on the last lap, I said, ‘OK, if I’m going to get [Benson-Tyler], I have to get her now.’ ”

Wengler said she was concerned about a few violations she received during the race. Too many of those, usually caused by not having at least one foot in contact with the ground, and she risked disqualification. But after a quick glance at the scoreboard on the final lap, Wengler knew she was OK. It was time to fire up the move.

“I knew that I didn’t have to conserve and could go all-out,” she said.

The move capped an early morning for Wengler, who had the overnight daylight-savings time switch to thank for an even earlier start to the day — a Sunday, no less.

Wengler raced home from her shift at Babylon Burger Bar Saturday night, got to bed at about 11 p.m. and woke up at 5:30 a.m. “I had some coffee,” Wengler said. “So I was pretty wired and locked in.”

By 8:30 a.m., she was an All-American and national runner up.

It was a successful winter for Wengler. She was second in the 1,500-meter walk at the Suffolk state qualifier in 7:10.95, topping everyone except eventual state champion Abby Callinan of Sachem East, who won in 7:05.34. Wengler was sixth at the state indoor championships in 7:14.07. 

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