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Hills West's Denzel Hardy wins 800 with final burst

Half Hollow Hills West's Denzel Hardy crosses the

Half Hollow Hills West's Denzel Hardy crosses the finish line in the 800-meter race against North Babylon in a Suffolk boys track meet on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Hardy placed first in 2:08.08. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The burst of energy came at the exact right time.

Half Hollow Hills West's Denzel Hardy thought he was "dead" after the first lap of the 800 meters at Wednesday's League IV duel meet with North Babylon at Half Hollow Hills West High School. But, as sometimes happens on the track, energy found its way back to Hardy.

"With 50 meters to go, I got a second wind," Hardy said.

That burst carried him past North Babylon's James McKeever and across the finish line in two minutes, 8.8 seconds, helping the Colts (2-2) take the meet, 82-57. The time was a personal best, Hardy said. McKeever finished second in 2:09.9.

Hardy said that despite allowing McKeever to run in front for the opening lap, he had to change his strategy during the final half of the race.

"I had to run the second lap faster than I normally would have," Hardy said. "It's all about reacting to how your opponents are running. In that situation, I wanted to win, so I had to stay with him and make sure he couldn't beat me."

McKeever wasn't the only thing Hardy had to fight through. Swirling winds gave runners little relief throughout the afternoon. The strong breath of mother nature is never a welcome opponent.

"The wind was terrible," Hardy said. "I felt it throughout the entire race. I had to push against it at several points. It definitely slowed me down."

The key to surviving in ferocious wind, Hardy said, is "running harder."

"You have to swing your arms more," he said.

Jabari Hinds won the 1,600 in 5:02.8. The time was a personal best, Hinds said.

Like Hardy, Hinds had to make up ground late in the race. On the second-to-last lap, Hinds began to creep up on North Babylon's Ryan Pence, who led for most of the race. Hinds caught up to Pence as the final lap bell rang and out-strode him over the final 400 meters. Pence was second in 5:04.6 and came back to win the 3,200 in 11:11.

"I started to increase my stride and move my arms faster," Hinds said of the final lap. "I move my legs farther apart, going faster and using less energy."

Hills West's Dante English won the long jump, leaping 20 feet, 21/2 inches.

"I got off well on my last jump," English said. "The first two jumps, I was in front of the board, so I had to move a couple feet back."

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