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Huntington 4x400 relay wins national championship

Huntington's Infinite Tucker crosses the finish line

Huntington's Infinite Tucker crosses the finish line as the Huntington boys 4x400 meter relay team wins their event at the New Balance Nationals at the Armory in Manhattan on March 13, 2016. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

From the midway point of the season, the Huntington 4x400 meter relay team knew that there was only one way to properly end the indoor season — a national championship. As the season’s many victories mounted, through regular season triumphs, a county championship, and even last weekend’s state championship, one final goal emerged — a gold medal at the season’s final meet.

“We didn’t know what we had,” Lawrence Leake, who teamed with Kyree Johnson, Shane McGuire, and Infinite Tucker, said. “But, as the season went on, we knew we had a chance to do something great. So, we set our sights on Nationals.”

And Sunday afternoon, at long last, in the final event of the weekend-long New Balance Nationals at the Armory in Manhattan, they did something great.

Huntington, which entered the race undefeated this season, defended their lofty reputation, winning in three minutes, 16.09 seconds. It is the fastest time in the country, bumping Washington DC’s Archbishop Carroll High School, which ran 3:16.11 on Feb. 20, according to milesplit.com.

McGuire, who was the latest addition to the team, entering the lineup right before the Millrose Games, ran a 49.80 second third leg, battling it out with Newburgh’s Robert Walker to hand it off to Tucker in first.

“I didn’t know his name, I just knew he was really fast,” McGuire said. “I just did whatever I could to stay with him. At the end, I just had a little more push and did everything I could to try and get the lead for us.”

Tucker sped the rest of the way, clocking a 47.71 second anchor leg to secure the victory.

“Shane did an outstanding job handing me the batten in first,” Tucker said. “As soon as I got it, I full out sprinted the first lap and, whatever I had left for the second lap, I just gave it my all.”

And, as Tucker was motoring around the track, his teammates watched with national championship hopes in their eyes.

“When the anchor leg crossed the finish line, I felt everything in my body tense up,” Johnson, who led off with a 48.88 second leg said. “I was overwhelmed by joy.”

A pair of Long Island two-mile records were set earlier in the meet. On the girls side, North Shore’s Diana Vizza finished an All-American fourth in 10 minutes, 19.91 seconds, breaking North Shore alum Brianna Nerud’s 2012 mark of 10:24.86, coach Neal Levy said. Weini Kelati, a 19-year old native of Eritrea now living in Virginia, won in 10:02.71.

“It feels awesome to keep that North Shore legacy going,” Vizza said of breaking Nerud’s record. “The alumni are so supportive of us. I want to represent them well. The record was definitely one of my goals today. That, and making All-American.”

Moment’s after Vizza’s performance, St. Anthony’s Ryan Kutch ran a 9:00.06, fifth behind Utah’s Garek Bielaczyc’s 8:57.03. Kutch’s time broke Northport’s Tim McGowan’s 2014 mark of 9:00.20, coach Tim Dearie said.

St. Anthony’s sprinter Halle Hazzard took an All-American fifth in the 60 meters, running a personal-best 7.40.

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