Mount Sinai’s Kenneth Wei was doubly dominant all indoor season. As the most versatile athlete on Long Island, Wei excelled at both the long jump and hurdles throughout the winter. It was sometimes hard to determine which was his stronger event. So it was only fitting that the MIT-bound senior earned double All-American status at the New Balance Indoor Nationals, held this weekend at the Armory in Manhattan.
Wei, who earned an All-American fifth in the long jump on Saturday, ran 7.83 seconds to earn the bronze medal in the 60-meter hurdles on the third and final day of the season’s premier track and field event Sunday afternoon.
“Even going back to when I was a freshman, I wasn’t thinking about this meet,” Wei said. “It’s definitely a great honor and I’m very lucky to be here.”
Hurdling out of the second lane, Wei accelerated halfway down the runway and leaned at the line to top Alabama’s Deanthony Coleman, who finished milliseconds behind him, and North Carolina’s Joshua Brockman, who was fifth in 7.84.
“Traditionally in my hurdle races, my start isn’t fast and I’m a little slow out of the blocks,” Wei said. “My first two hurdles, I can’t get the rhythm down, but the last two hurdles are when I start to excel and I can really get the rhythm down and my feet on the ground to really accelerate.”
Wei ran 7.94 in the semifinals, the fifth fastest time of that round. Just getting to the finals of a national meet was a significant accomplishment, and that wasn’t lost on Wei.
“I don’t think I was really expected to place in this event, so I really had nothing to lose,” he said. “Making it to the finals was a great honor for me. I just tried to run my own race, try to get my feet down as quick as I could and just accelerate through.”
Elsewhere, Uniondale’s Jadan Hanson finished an All-American third in the triple jump, flying 50 feet, 6 inches. Connecticut’s Justin Forde won with a 51-3 jump. Despite winning the state triple jump title with a 49-7½ leap on March 2, Hanson was unhappy that he couldn’t break 50 feet on Staten Island. After getting more practice during nationals week, Hanson was able to clear that barrier.
“I hurt my groin on the Monday of [states] week, so I didn’t practice that whole week,” he said. “I was kind of mad because I didn’t get to jump to my best ability. But now that I got some practice in, I got to really show what I could actually do.”
Hanson called the afternoon his “best jumping of the season.”
“I executed what I wanted to do,” he said. “Maybe I could have gone farther, my third phase wasn’t as good . . . but I’m not mad at all . . . I feel like the bigger the meet, the better you have to do. States I did good and nationals I had to do better. Now, I have to carry it outdoors.”
Huntington’s 4x400 relay team, composed of C.J. Kiviat, Justin Stevens, Anthony Joseph, and Johnathan Smith, placed an All-American fourth in 3:20.97. New Jersey’s St. Benedict Prep won in 3:18.36.
The Huntington quartet also won the state championship on March 2.
“The field was open for anybody,” Smith said. “I’m just glad that my teammates ran good. I wouldn’t want to leave my senior indoor season without them. They’re my brothers.”
On the girl’s side, Commack’s Alissa Braxton finished her successful indoor season with an All-American fourth in the triple jump. Braxton, who won the state championship and set the state record this season, jumped 40-9.
“That’s fine with me,” Braxton said of the distance. “I was a little bit behind the board. But, if I get on the board, I know I can at least get a 42 .”
Texas’ Jasmine Moore won the event with a 44-2½ effort.