Soledad Jean, Half Hollow Hills East, High Jump
Jean walked into Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex without a care in the world. She was just happy to still be alive in the indoor season. Competing at the state championships was something she wanted to soak in without the pressure of being overly concerned about performance.
“I just stayed calm and didn’t stress about it too much,” Jean said. “It was just a good thing to get to states . . . It was like ‘OK, it’s a bigger meet, so however you perform is good because you got there.’”
Plus, she didn’t think she was going to win.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it because I wasn’t seeded first and I’d never jumped five [feet], seven [inches], so I didn’t know that would happen,” Jean said.
What happened was a state title. Perhaps buoyed by her "just happy to be here attitude," Jean cleared 5-7 and won by one inch over South Side’s Olivia Rodriguez.
“. . . In [indoor season], my approach and form going over the bar definitely got a little bit better,” Jean said.
Alissa Braxton, Commack, Triple Jump
It would be hard for any jumper to replicate the indoor season that Braxton had. It started early with a 40-foot triple jump, then continued with a state-record breaking 41 foot, 9 ¾ inch jump, then reached a crescendo with a state championship.
Braxton jumped 40 feet, 5 inches to win the state indoor title by four inches.
“It feels so great to be here and win,” she said shortly after leaving the podium. “I’ve always wanted to and, to actually do it, makes me feel so great inside.”
A week later, Braxton placed an All-American fourth in the triple jump at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
Huntington’s 4x200-meter relay team: Analisse Batista, Olivia Conte, Alicia Brooks, De’Janae Linton
As the oldest member of the squad, Brooks wanted to use her leadoff leg to place her younger teammates in a position to finish strongly.
“I felt like I needed to get a good lead so that the younger people could actually get ahead,” Brooks said.
Brooks did her job and her teammates finished it up. The team won the public school state championship in 1 minute, 42.74 seconds. Brooklyn’s Paul Robeson Educational Campus won the Federation title in 1:40.75.
“Even though we were second to Paul Robeson, I thought we still did great,” Brooks said.
Her teammates agreed.
“It feels really good,” said Batista, a freshman who ran the second leg. “I really thought we could get here. That was our main goal and I’m really happy.”
Freeport’s 4 x 400-meter relay: Enyero and Efe Omokeni, Nyah Porter, Alexandria Yarbrough
Without a moment to spare, Freeport turned to its trusty anchor, Yarbrough, to get it to the top. Yarbrough split two competitors on the final straightaway to edge Bronxville and earn public school gold. Thanks to a final leg time of 56.62 seconds from Yarbrough, Freeport won the public school championship in 3 minutes, 58.10 seconds. Bronxville was second in the public school competition in 3:58.51. Brooklyn’s St. Joseph’s won the Federation championship in 3:57.94.
“After not making finals in the 300, I just really wanted to push for the relay to get on the podium,” Yarbrough said. “Knowing that the gap was a little big, I did my best to try and close it . . . I just knew I had to catch as many people as I could and leave it all on the floor.