A shot rang out and, for a moment, Mount Sinai’s Kate DelGandio didn’t know what to do. It was a sound so familiar to her in what seems like a past life, but was now so foreign. It was the starting gun and, for the first time in nearly a year, she was in a race.
So, what to do now? Oh, yeah: run.
"I forgot what the gun sounded like," said DelGandio, a junior. "I was like, ‘oh my gosh, we have to run. I haven’t done this in so long.' "
The rustiness lasted milliseconds — if even that long. DelGandio took off and took home victories in the 55-meter hurdles (8.8 seconds) and 55 (7.6) in the Mustangs' season opening loss to Bayport-Blue Point last weekend. After running a 27.8 second split in the 4 x 200 relay, DelGandio had scored the most points by any athlete in the meet, according to Phantoms coach Vin Ungaro.
Her quick feet earned DelGandio Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honor.
"As soon as the gun went off, it was very familiar to me," DelGandio said. "It was like ‘OK, you’ve done this before, just do what you usually do. Remember your arms, remember your starts, remember what coach told you.’ That was all running through my mind the whole race."
DelGandio is one of the top hurdlers on Long Island. She finished sixth at the indoor state championships last season and would have been the third-fastest returner in the state from that race. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the state championships, DelGandio has other goals — mainly breaking the school 55 hurdle record of 8.1 seconds. Her personal best is an 8.43, run at last February’s Suffolk state qualifier, according to milesplit.com.
DelGandio said she was a little surprised at how fast she ran last weekend. She was prepared for a slower time, focused on her form, and took what she learned from the race into a full week of practice. She wasn’t even sure she’d get over the hurdles cleanly.
"I kind of got up to the line and thought ‘oh my gosh, this is really happening right now,’ " she said. "I just hope I don’t fall into the hurdles."
Then came last week's 8.8.
"I think it was a little bit of adrenaline," DelGandio said. "I’m a very competitive person and I always go into my races trying to win or trying to beat a time."
And she usually does.