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Kyree Johnson, Daniel Claxton star at Suffolk track state qualifier

Smithtown East's Daniel Claxton clears 6 feet, 10

Smithtown East's Daniel Claxton clears 6 feet, 10 inches during the Suffolk state qualifier at Suffolk County Community College on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Kyree Johnson is done losing. The sprinter suffered some rare disappointment Saturday after falling just short on the anchor leg of Huntington’s 4 x 400-meter relay and scratching from the 55 meters at the Millrose Games (the two events were simply scheduled too close for him to viably compete in both).

But track is all about second chances and, even Johnson, who has known almost nothing but success for the last two years, got one Monday night. Johnson won both the 55 meters (6.41 seconds) and the 300 (34.80) at the Suffolk state qualifier at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.

Johnson also ran anchor on Huntington’s 4 x 400 meter relay team that, along with Lawrence Leake, Anthony Joseph, and Mark Rafuse, won in 3:32.15.

The victories qualified Johnson, and his teammates, for the state championships, scheduled for March 4 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.

“After losing the 4 x 4 [Saturday], I just put my head down and said, ‘there’s no more losing,’ ” Johnson said. “I only want to win.”

Sachem North’s Christopher Tibbetts qualified for the state summit in two events, winning the 1,000 in a personal-best 2:30.45 and the 1,600 in in 4:28.56. The senior said he is undecided whether or not he will run the 1,600 at the state championships.

Smithtown East high jumper Daniel Claxton punched his ticket to Ocean Breeze by clearing 6 feet, 10 inches. Claxton won his first indoor state championship last season, clearing 6-8 at Cornell.

“I want to have the same mentality as I had last year,” Claxton said. “I know that, as of now, I will be the number one seed. But it’s not just going in number one and thinking that you’re ‘all that.’ You have to prove why you deserve to be that number one seed and prove why you deserve to win.”

Claxton, who tied the Suffolk record by clearing 7 feet on Jan. 28, currently has the highest jump in the state by two inches. Southampton’s Nakia Williams, who also qualified for the state meet, moved into second with a 6-8 jump Monday night, according to

Claxton attempted to clear 7-1 after clinching the win Monday night, but fell just short on his third attempt.

“During the first two jumps [at 7-1], I was coming out of my lean and jumping a little tall and going into the bar,” Claxton said. “That last jump, I made sure to try and hold back to the best of my ability and take off, go straight up into the air, not go into the bar, and try to jump around it.”

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