Jericho's Jose Velasquez is used to obstacles. After all, what steeplechase runner isn't?
Overcoming obstacles is literally how they make their name. But toward the end of Thurday's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Nassau State Qualifier meet, Velasquez had to deal with one more obstacle . . . and an unforeseen one, at that.
Due to an officials error, the bell indicating the final lap rang with two laps left. Velasquez took off, thinking he had only 400 meters remaining in the grueling event. As he approached the finish line, he heard another bell and realized that the race was not yet complete. After a quick look of confusion, the senior motored on.
"I was a little worried because I used my kick on the [second to last] lap," he said. "When I saw that I had one more lap to go, I thought 'are you kidding me?' But I looked back and saw that I had a good gap. My legs were feeling a bit fatigued, but this was going to be my first time going to states and I didn't want to lose the opportunity."
Despite the hiccup, Velasquez's ticket to the state meet, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero, remained untouched. He won in 9 minutes, 48.11 seconds at the late-season meet, held Wednesday and Thursday at Roosevelt High School.
While Velasquez's obstacle was the most public, others had battles to fight, as well. For Long Beach's Josh Linster, it was nerves. But, he said, that battle actually helped focus him in his 11.17-second Division I 100-meter victory.
"Nervousness pushes you harder," Linster said. "If I wasn't nervous, I might have messed up."
Roosevelt's Raymond Jones won the Division II 100 in 11.14 seconds and the 200 in 22.49 seconds.
Freeport's Ja'Saun Young won the pentathlon with 2,795 points. Port Washington's James Burns took the 110 hurdles in 15.07 seconds. Syosset's Simon Nwana won the 800 in 1:55.04. His teammate, Ryan DePinto won the 3,200 in 9:24.01. East Meadow's Michael Grady won the 1,600 in 4:22.10.
Bellmore JFK's Brian Calderero won the 400 hurdles in 56.86 seconds. Lynbrook's Luke Germanakos won the 400 in 49.45 seconds.
In the field events, Farmingdale's Nader Golshahr won the pole vault, clearing 12 feet, 6 inches. Baldwin's Pascal Bastien took the triple jump, flying 45-5 1/4.