Michael Danzi had been waiting a year to throw on that shirt. So, when the time came to don the yellow long-sleeve t-shirt with the words ‘state champions’ on it over his Smithtown West track uniform, he wasted no time.
“It feels so good to finally do it,” said Danzi, a senior who will run for Columbia next year. “I’ve been waiting a long time.”
Danzi, who has long been among the best distance runners on Long Island, proved that he’s among the best in the state after a two minute, 29.96 second victory in the 1,000 meters at the state track and field championships Saturday at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.
‘Wasting no time’ was a major theme of the race for Danzi, who sprinted out towards the lead right away and never looked back, a wire-to-wire victory.
“The plan was just to monitor the pace,” Danzi said. “I wanted to go sub-2:30 today, so if [the field] was going to start slowing up, like 30 or 31 [second laps], I’d keep it under that 2:30, keep it at that range, and keep pushing.”
Typically, taking a lead as large as the one Danzi did is a risky maneuver, especially in a state championship race. But, the experienced runner with tons of 5-kilometer training behind him, knew that he could hold that pace.
“There’s definitely that thought in the back of my head,” Danzi said. “But, I know how I do in workouts, what time I should be around race pace-wise. So, I still knew that I would have a bit of a kick in the end and I did. It worked out for me. I think I did the right race strategy for me.”
Danzi finally broke through one of the bigger frustrations of his high school career. After three second-place finishes in the state competition last year, he knew he couldn’t let this opportunity, or any other runner for that matter, pass him by.
“The last straight away, I just kept thinking ‘I want that title,’” he said. “I just kept telling myself that. It made me push harder.”
Elsewhere on the track, Hempstead’s Cavel Campbell won the 300 in 34.54 seconds, Shelter Island’s Kal Lewis won the public school 1,600 in 4:17.24, Farmingdale’s Andre Leslie won the public school 55 meters in 6.39 seconds.
Long Island swept the relays. Syosset’s 4X800 meter team, composed of Alex Rangell, Kevin Mohtadi, Hunter Pick, and Justin DePinto won in 7:55.53. Huntington’s 4X400 team, composed of Anthony Joseph, Justin Stevens, C.J. Kiviat, and Tyriek Mays-McKoy won their second straight state title in 3:19.91, and Westbury’s 4X200 team of Jean Love, Naquan Frazier, Jarvis Kuunifaa, and Kevens Leger, won in 1:29.94.
Syosset, who had a comfortable lead for most of the first half of the race, fell into second at the beginning of the third leg. Pick ran back into first and handed it off to DePinto, who held off hard-charging Bay Shore in a Long Island battle for the state title. Bay Shore was second in 7:57.41.
“I knew they were coming,” DePinto said. “My last few weeks have not been perfect. I’ve been battling a slight hip and back problem. So, my training has been very spotty. I did not feel good when I got the baton. I knew I just had to get out hard and make him chase me.”
In the field, Freeport’s Christian Quinn, a New Englander who moved to Long Island last summer, won the long jump, flying 22 feet, 11 inches. Hampton Bays’ Quinn Smith tossed 60 feet on his last throw to win the shot put, and Commack’s Nick Pisciotta won the weight throw, tossing 75 feet, six inches.