With four laps remaining, Mount Sinai's Sarah Connelly felt an immediate sense of urgency and suddenly kicked it another gear.
And it carried her to the event’s third-best time in the nation this season.
“You have to know that with four laps left to go, there’s two laps left technically because it’s a tiny track,” said Connelly, who won the girls invitational 3,000 meter run in 9:47.38 Saturday at the Molloy Stanner Games at the Armory in Manhattan. “So it’s like, ‘Alright, time to go.’”
In her first appearance at the Armory, Connelly found herself only a few short strides behind Abby Loveys of Randolph (NJ) for the majority of the race, until edging past her with four laps to go and ultimately pulling away 3.24 seconds ahead for the victory.
“I really wanted to come in first and I knew I was gonna have competition,” Connelly said. “I knew I couldn’t freak out and had to keep calm. But I did start freaking out, but that’s normal. It’s all about keeping calm and knowing whatever happens, happens, and I’m glad that I did it.”
After finishing 30th at the Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon on Dec. 1, Connelly continues to shine in the running spotlight in 2018-19. She said she entered the day holding the 14th-best time in the country in the event, adding it was “crazy” to learn that she jumped up to No. 3.
Another distance winner was Northport’s Sean Ryan, who cruised to victory in the boys invitational 3,200 meter run in 9.26.22. Kevin Cawley of Smithtown East placed second in 9:35.56.
Positioned around the middle of the pack with about six laps to go, Ryan saw his window of opportunity open up and made a push that landed him in first a lap later.
“Before the race my coach basically said to take the first lap out and not to push anything,” Ryan said. “I was in eighth or ninth place for that. Going into the last mile I knew I probably had the fastest mile in the race so I had the strength and speed to push it and get the W.”
One of the more thrilling events of the day concluded with a narrow victory for Ward Melville’s Briana Grant in the girls invitational mile. Grant willed herself from third place to first with two laps left, and crossed the finish line in 5:13.01, an eyelash ahead of Randolph’s Meredith Finley (5:13.05).
“That made me nervous,” Grant said. “That’s happened to me before where another runner and I were neck-and-neck and they finished first. I didn’t want that to happen again. When I found out I won I was tired, but I was jumping up and down screaming in my head.”
Placing first in the boys invitational mile was Kal Lewis of Shelter Island (4:23.27), followed by Half Hollow Hills West’s RJ Pleasants (4:25.24). Freeport’s Alexandria Yarbrough won the girls invitational 300 meter dash (40.60), and Megan Wood of Ward Melville finished second in the girls invitational shot put (35 feet, 9.5 inches).