Patience pays when you have a teammate backing you up.
Mercy’s Meg Tuthill got a boost from Kaitlyn Butterfield, who pushed the pace to help propel her teammate and training partner to a strong finish in the 1,000 meters. It resulted in a first-place 2:55.22 finish for Tuthill at the Molloy Stanner Games at the Armory in Manhattan on Saturday. Butterfield came in third at 2:58.64. Kellenberg’s Deirdre Lewin was in between in 2:58.41.
Tuthill said she purposefully sits back at the start, preferring to wait for her moment. It came when Butterfield went out in front with two laps remaining, forcing her to stick to the runner and allowing her to make her move.
“I just tried to stay with the leader so I could be in contact and striking distance,” Tuthill said.
The runners found each other as soon as the race ended, embracing in the first lane and celebrating as if they won a relay. This race may have been individual, but the result mattered more than merely two teammates in the same race.
“She’s my first real training partner,” Tuthill said. “Every workout we push each other, always battling it out the last 200. People will tell us we’re too competitive in workouts, but I think it’s fine. It works.”
Butterfield said they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and she thought taking a chance would help both of them.
“I made a hard move because we knew it was off the pace, and I really wanted to break three [minutes],” Butterfield said.
On the boys side, East Hampton’s Erik Engstrom found a kick he didn’t know he had to leave no doubt on the final lap of the 3,200-meter run.
Engstrom set a consistent pace from the start and continued to pull away, but runners from Xavier and Pleasant Valley stuck close and took the lead at different moments. Then, he unleashed the kick that he said isn’t normally his strength.
“I raced until 400, after the mile I didn’t care about splits really — just started racing,” Engstrom said. “I just figured I’d hold onto him and see what happens.”
A race that was seemingly filled with strategy was only Engstrom’s second at the distance this season. It made his ability to kick even more surprising.
“I had to save it,” Engstrom said.
Huntington’s Infinite Tucker ran his first 600 of the season and did more than impress — he ran the best time in the U.S. this season.
“I couldn’t let my teammate go home being No. 1 by himself,” Tucker said.
That teammate was Kyree Johnson, who set a U.S. No. 1 moments earlier in the 300-meter trial in 34.22. He followed that up with a 34:03 in the final.
Chris Tibbetts of Sachem North won the boys 1,000 in 2:33.4. Baldwin’s William Salmon won the boys 1,600 in 4:26.91. Kellenberg won the girls 4x800 in 9:32.91 — the third best time in New York this season. Smithtown East’s Dan Claxton tied a meet record for the high jump with a jump of 6 feet 9 inches.