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Mason Gatewood charges on final lap to give St. Anthony’s 4 x 800 state title

St. Anthony's Mason Gatewood, left, and Northport's Elijah

St. Anthony's Mason Gatewood, left, and Northport's Elijah Claiborne race to the finish line of the boys 4x800-meter relay championship at the state track and field championships at Cicero-North Syracuse High School on Saturday.

CICERO, N.Y. — Mason Gatewood wasn’t born in New York State but, in the end, he gave it all he had. Gatewood, a St. Anthony’s senior who was born in Georgia and has lived in five states, nipped Northport’s Elijah Claiborne at the line to anchor the Friars to a 4 x 800-meter relay win on the second and final day of the state track and field championships at Cicero -North Syracuse High School Saturday afternoon.

Gatewood, along with teammates Brendan Dearie, Matthew Payamps, and Michael Barbaro-Barnett, won in 7 minutes, 45.78 seconds. Gatewood ran a 1:51.06 final leg to complete a giant comeback for St. Anthony’s, which was last early in the race.

“It was a hard race,” Gatewood said. “Fortunately, I got in a pretty decent position and I knew that if I ran faster than I probably ever had, I’d be able to be in the mix at the end. I actually didn’t know if I was going to be able to get him until about 100 meters left . . . The last 25 meters, I was so close. I was at my max. I just knew that I had to do something if I wanted to go for it.

“Instinct took over and I just kind of threw myself and dove at the line to see if I could get my chest across first,” Gatewood added. “It worked out.”

Claiborne clocked a 1:53.46 final leg and Northport, with Dan O’Connor, Thomas Fodor, and Sean Ryan, won the Division I championship.

The two squads have battled in some high profile races this school year, firing up the competitive juices at both the indoor state championships and New Balance Indoor Nationals. Northport ran without Elijah’s twin brother, Isaiah, who was in Seattle competing at the prestigious Brooks PR meet.

Elijah completed a distance double earlier, winning the 1,600 in 4:10.01 early Saturday after taking the 800 on Friday.

Elijah, who was clipped at the line in the 1,600 at March’s indoor state championship, was careful to make sure that such a fate did not befall him again in this 1,600. He used the outside lane to pass the field on the final lap and was comfortable enough in the final 50 meters that he didn’t have to worry about anyone snatching away his individual double.

“On the final lap, I knew that the pack was close, so I was trying to extend my lead early enough that it wouldn’t have to come down to [the last millisecond], like indoors,” said Claiborne, who will attend Penn State next year. “I didn’t want to lose on a lean again, so I had to make sure that I won that race.”

Despite multiple victories since, Claiborne always had that indoor loss in the back of his mind.

“I came into this meet with a vengeance, trying to win again,” he said.

Elsewhere, Whitman’s Jack Poplawski won the pentathlon with 3,555 points. He won the long jump (21 feet, 11 inches), placed eighth in the 110-meter hurdles (15.76), tied for eighth in the high jump (5-103⁄4), was second in the shot put (43-53⁄4 ), and was third in the 1,500 (4:29.58).

Poplawski was most surprised by his long jump win.

“It was about a foot and a quarter more than my personal best,” Poplawski said. “I just went really aggressive on the last jump, got a good landing on it, and it ended up happening.”

Long Island had a solid day overall in the field. Babylon’s Vladislav Cullinane cleared 6-8 to win the high jump and complete an indoor/outdoor state sweep. Cullinane cleared 6-7 to win the indoor state title in March, but said that some bad weather and poor jumping early in the spring made the outdoor season a challenge.

“I increased my speed around the curve and worked on holding my back arch a little longer so I wouldn’t snap so early and hit the bar,” Cullinane said.

Uniondale’s Jadan Hanson went 48-53⁄4 inches to win the triple jump and Commack’s Steven Vasile won the discus (177-7).

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