For thriving competitors like Huntington’s Kyree Johnson, the need to prove themselves is constant. They want the spotlight, they want the stage and most of all, they want to show that they are best among giants.
So, as the 55-meter finalists were being introduced at Wednesday night’s Millrose Games Trials at The Armory in Manhattan, Johnson’s competitive juices were instantly peaked.
Standing right beside Johnson was Carlon Hosten of Taft Education in the Bronx. Hosten had finished mere milliseconds behind Johnson in the trials, granted in a different heat.
“It didn’t really hit me until we went onto the starting line and, once they introduced everyone, I heard the times that everybody ran,” Johnson said. “That just made me more energized.”
That energy resulted in a 55 final that didn’t end up being incredibly close. Johnson’s explosive start powered him toward a 6.43 second victory. Hosten was second in 6.50 seconds and Floyd’s Nigel Green was third in 6.52 seconds.
“When the race started, I wasn’t thinking about anything but being across that finish line first,” Johnson said. “I pumped my legs as hard as I could.”
The victory qualified Johnson for the Millrose Games, scheduled for Feb. 11 at The Armory. Johnson sprinted to a sixth-place finish in last year’s Millrose Games (.01 seconds behind Hosten), but said he took it easy in order to save energy for the 4 x 400-meter relay later that night. This year, Johnson will leave nothing behind as he quests for individual glory.
“I’m definitely going to give the 55 priority,” Johnson said. “[The Millrose Games] is one of the biggest accomplishments that anyone can have. Millrose is one of the biggest meets in the world and I feel like winning something individually at Millrose puts your name out there.”
Johnson, along with Jonathan Smith, Lawrence Leake, and Shane McGuire won the Suffolk 4 x 400 relay in 3:23.47. Elmont, composed of Damayha Coeur, Malik Johnson, Demoni Gilkes and Lucas Mathieu won the Nassau race in 3:23.05.
On the girls side, Shoreham-Wading River’s relay team, composed of Payton Capes-Davis, Amanda Dwyer, Alexandra Hays and Katherine Lee, won the invitational 4 x 800 in 9:18.12.
“These ladies put me in the perfect spot,” Lee, who ran anchor, said. “They had me right with the [field] and I just had to work off them and go. I felt like I had more, if need be. I just got to do my thing, keep it steady, and have a nice run.”
West Babylon’s 4 x 400 relay team, composed of Dana Beggins, Paige Keefer, Nadja Ashley and Brittany Korsah, won the Suffolk race in 3:56.41. Uniondale, composed of Zaria Fuller, sisters Colby and Casey Green and Jaileessa Casimir, won the Nassau race in 3:59.90.