Bayport-Blue Point's Kathleen Cibuls arrived at the Armory in Manhattan ready to run. She was nervous, but focused on the 600 meters at the Jan. 11 Molloy Stanner Games. Cibuls walked in, sat down, and waited. And then she waited some more . . . And then some more.
The 600 was scheduled to be the final race that Bayport-Blue Point would run at the meet. The sophomore had no choice but to sit and ponder running an event that she had only done once before.
"It was terrifying," Cibuls said. "My first 600 was freshman year. I ran a 1:47. I knew I couldn't run that again [and win]."
When it finally came time to lace up her shoes and head toward the track, Cibuls had built up a boatload of energy. She released it in the only way she knew how, by dancing with her teammate, Courtney Dooley, who was also running in the race.
"Usually, I run with a friend and, when we're nervous, we just jump and start dancing with each other," Cibuls said. "We dance out our racing problems."
Those problems were gone by the time the race started. The nerves of a few hours ago evaporated like cold water on a hot day. Cibuls won the race in one minute, 36.94 seconds, breaking the school record of 1:39.60, set by Liz Crowley in 2006, coach Vin Ungaro said.
As Cibuls made her way around the track during her final lap, she could sense Kellenberg's Jazmine Fray creeping up behind her. Fray, who is known as an outstanding middle distance runner, wasn't anyone to take lightly.
"It's the scariest feeling in the world," Cibuls said. "An amazing runner is behind you and you need to go as fast as you can to win."
She did enough to prevent the CHSAA standout from taking her out. Fray finished second in 1:37.12 and Cibuls could do nothing but bask in the glory of her victory.
"You just feel like you want to donate to charity," she said.
Less than a month later, Cibuls qualified for the state championships, scheduled for March 1 at Cornell after winning the 600 at the Suffolk state qualifier in 1:38.25.
"I never thought I'd actually win anything," Cibuls said. "I never thought I'd be this good."
And that's something to dance about.