CICERO, N.Y. - It's one of the harder decisions senior athletes have to make this time of year and, boy, did Longwood's Dennis Russell and Dashawn Taylor wrestle with it. To go to prom or not to go to prom? Going to prom would mean missing the state championships. But going to the state championships would mean, well, not going to prom.
"It was such a hard choice," Russell said. "In class, I would think back and forth. One period, I would be going to states and the next, I'd be going to prom. But, we decided that, since we've been [at states] since 10th grade, if we were going to do it, we had to do it right."
And when they chose the state championships, they knew that they didn't want to come home without anything to show for it. They wanted party favors, particularly the gold medals that dangle from their necks.
They both got their wish on the second day of the championships Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. Russell won the federation discus, throwing 185 feet, five inches; Taylor won the long jump, flying 24 feet.
After Taylor's first two jumps were fouls, his state championship prospects appeared bleak. But the senior regrouped and jumped the championship length on his third try.
"I moved back my steps about two feet," Taylor said. "I came down just as aggressive as I did before and I popped something big."
Russell said he changed his discus form after not being satisfied with his Suffolk state qualifier performance last weekend.
"I used to come around slow, drop my hand, and muscle it under," he said. "Now, I still come around slow but, I keep my hand back and use lower body rotations. I let my arms fly through and let it go . . . It worked perfectly."
Smithtown West's Ben Bonhurst won the Federation shot put, throwing 65-21/2. Earlier in the day, Bonhurst won the Division I shot put, tossing 67-3. That distance broke the state championship meet record of 65-41/2, set by Liverpool's J.J Grant in 1985.
"That felt amazing," he said. "I'm so pumped about it. It was a great day to throw. I was consistently over 65 feet. I'm very pleased with that."
The Florida State-bound senior said that, after all is said and done, good throws come down to confidence in the circle.
"I trusted myself and my technique," Bonhurst said. "I do it so many times during the day. It's all muscle memory when you get in the ring."
Roosevelt's Raymond Jones won the Division II 200 in 22.11 seconds. He placed second in the Division II 100 meters, finishing in 11.17. Jones was part of Roosevelt's 4 x 100-meter relay team that won the Division II title on Friday.
"Going home with two gold medals is a lot better than bronze," Jones said.
Northport's Mike Brannigan took second in the 1,600 meters. The junior ran a 4:07.84, .02 seconds slower than Tappan Zee's Luke Gavigan, who ran 4:07.82. Syosset's 4 x 800-meter relay team, composed of Simon Nwana, Tyler Italiano, Nick Ouassil, and Ryan DePinto, finished second to Warwick Valley (7:44.25). The Braves posted a 7:47.67 out of the second-to-last heat.
Sachem East's Trevor Guerrera was second in the 400 hurdles in 53.88.