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Kayla Hodge helps Hills West girls push to 4 x 200 win

Half Hollow Hills West sophomore Arianna Sabatino, left,

Half Hollow Hills West sophomore Arianna Sabatino, left, receives a baton handoff from fellow sophomore Kayla Hodge during the 4x200 meter relay event in the Lindy Relays. (March 30, 2013) Credit: James Escher

Kayla Hodge knew something was amiss. The Half Hollow Hills West sophomore was in her starting position, waiting for the 4 x 200-meter relay to begin. Hodge went through her normal routine, digging into the track before taking off, but something still felt strange. As the gun went off, she realized what it was.

"I hadn't screwed in my spikes all the way," Hodge said.

It was an inconvenience, but Hodge wasn't thrown by it. With each meet comes new challenges and this was just another.

"It felt a little shaky at first, but I just had to push through it," she said. "Knowing that I had to deliver for my teammates kept me going. Once we started, I didn't think about the loose spikes anymore. I just thought about winning."

Less than two minutes after hearing the gun, that thought became fact. Hodge, along with twins Arianna and Olivia Sabatino, and Kerri Graber won the event in 1 minute, 49.70 seconds at the Lindy Relays yesterday at Lindenhurst Middle School.

The Sabatino twins ran the middle legs. The "twin connection" made handoffs, often times the most challenging part of a relay, a breeze.

"I know exactly what she's going to do," Olivia said of her sister. "We've practiced a lot together. I was pretty confident that she wasn't going to slow down. I was able to time it right."

Graber, the lone senior on the relay team, serves as the anchor -- literally and figuratively. "She keeps us together and is an amazing leader," Olivia said.

Although two years older, Graber doesn't see her fellow runners as anything other than peers on the track.

"They have the motivation to succeed," Graber said.

Half Hollow Hills East, armed with their own pair of sisters, won the 4 x 400 relay. Lauren Keschner, Christina and Tiffany Perrier and Mary Chimezie finished in 4:02.15. "We all work well with each other," Christina said. "We had good handoffs today and were aggressive out there."

The Perrier sisters run the two middle legs. Christina, a junior, hands off to Tiffany, a senior. "We have a bond," Christina said. "It's something that's hard to explain. It's just there."

Her sister agreed. "It's always been a pleasure running with my sister," Tiffany said. "It's a cool experience that not many people get to have. When I was a freshman, I ran with my older sister, Victoria. Running with Christina is no different. Knowing that she's there gives me more of a boost when I run. I know that the baton won't fall because I trust her."

Other winners included North Babylon's Danae Glover, Teena Mobley, Nailah Jones and Jessica Scheriff. The quartet won the 1,600 sprint medley relay in 4:15.52.

Connetquot's Amy Irving, Bridget Sullivan, Jessie Smillie, and Caleigh Ruais won the 4 x 1,600 relay in 22:27.83 and the 4 x 800 relay in 10:09.39.

Bay Shore won the team competition, scoring 73.33 points. Jasmin Reyes, Christine Martin, Nia McCaslin and Lindsay Arcuri won the distance medley relay in 13:23.65.

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