Jaheim Dotson, Longwood, 300 meters
Dotson came into the season as the fastest returning 55-meter hurdler in the state and said he was "driven" to win a state championship. Although it was in a different event, that drive led Dotson to the top of the podium. The senior won the state public school 300 championship in 34.87 seconds. He came in third in the Federation race, finishing behind two runners from Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx.
Dotson was a triple county champion, winning the 55 hurdles (7.52), 300 (34.93), and long jump (22-5) at the Suffolk Large School championships in February.
Kevon O’Brien-Smith, Freeport, 600 meters
It was an All-Long Island battle on the grandest of stages. Freeport’s O’Brien-Smith came from behind and passed Huntington’s Johnathan Smith on the final trip down the back straightaway, finally taking control on the last turn. O'Brien Smith won in 1 minute, 19.98 seconds.
“It was a lot of hard work, [Smith] is a really fast kid,” O’Brien-Smith said. “ . . . I saw the finish line and I wanted to win, so I had to push it and headed for another gear.”
O’Brien-Smith said that he started the race with a clear head and let the drama unfold without thinking too much.
“In the beginning, I wasn’t even thinking about the race,” O’Brien-Smith said. “ . . . I just came out, did what I had to do, and came home with the championship.”
Matthew Payamps, St. Anthony’s, 1,600 meters
Payamps proved what most already knew by the time the state championships came along: that he is, indeed, the fastest miler in the state.
Payamps, who will attend Georgetown University next school year, won the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes, 10.51 seconds, battling with Bronxville’s Alex Rizzo, who passed him with 400 meters left. Payamps, undeterred by the strong move, kicked with 100 meters to go and cruised to victory.
“My plan was to really take it out hard and to go through the 1,200 [meter split] in [around three minutes],” Payamps said. “When I saw [Rizzo] take the lead, I kind of threw that out of the cards and just wanted to compete against him. I didn’t want to have tactics ruin a state championship.”
Jadan Hanson, Uniondale, Triple Jump
There was no stopping Hanson this indoor season, not a hurt groin, not a lack of practice, not an opponent who had given the junior fits in the past. All of those things converged to meet Hanson during the week of the state championships and he still emerged on the top of the podium.
Hanson hurt his groin on the Monday before the big jump, resulting in a whole lot of rest — not practice — as the biggest meet of his season approached. Hanson recovered enough to reel off a 49-foot, 7 ½-inch flight to win the triple jump state title. He topped Cicero's (North Syracuse) Jeremiah Willis, an athlete that Hanson said was ‘the best competitor I ever went up against.’
“He hates losing, just like me,” Hanson said. “When two people like that clash, you know you’re in for something special.”
Kenneth Wei, Mount Sinai, Long Jump
Wei was the most well-rounded athlete on Long Island this indoor season, with high marks in the long and triple jump and fast times in the 55-meter hurdles. He took gold in the long jump at the state championships, flying 23 feet, 5 ½ inches.
However, it wasn’t all perfect on championship day and Wei had to adjust as best he could.
“My steps were a little off,” he said. “They weren’t my usual steps, so I struggled with jumping well . . . I just felt a lot faster than I’ve ever felt before. I was using my older steps, which accounted for slower speed. Using my old steps with faster speed didn’t line up and I didn’t adjust for it.”
A week later, Wei put everything together and earned All-American honors in the long jump and 60-meter hurdles at New Balance Indoor Nationals.
Huntington’s 4 x 400 meter relay: C.J. Kiviat, Justin Stevens, Anthony Joseph, Johnathan Smith
This indoor season represented a return to dominance for the Huntington track program. Only a few years after Huntington put together the best 4 x 400 relay in the country, it returned to the top of the state podium.
Kiviat, Stevens, Joseph, and Smith won in 3 minutes, 20.17 seconds, topping Newburgh Free Academy, which finished second in 3:21.33.
A week later, the quartet placed an All-American fourth in the same event at the New Balance indoor Nationals, running 3:20.97.
“I wouldn’t want to leave my senior indoor season without them,” Smith said. “They’re my brothers.”