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Middle Country's Carter Rothwell wins thrilling 1,000 meters race

Middle Country's Carter Rothwell holds off Longwood's James

Middle Country's Carter Rothwell holds off Longwood's James Lenihan to win the1000 meter run during the Suffolk High School Boys track meet between Middle Country and Longwood on Sunday Jan 24, 2021 at Newfield High School. Credit: Bob Sorensen

Conventional wisdom would say that Sunday was not the best day for "PRs." In track and field vernacular, that stands for personal records and those are usually accomplished when conditions are right and training is optimal.

With a shortened season, training is certainly not optimal and with temperatures in the 20’s and a wind chill that was nasty to the core, conditions certainly weren’t either.

Despite those hurdles, Middle Country’s Carter Rothwell was able to knock six seconds off his previous best time in the 1,000 meters and come across the line with the slimmest of victories on the coldest of days. Rothwell ran 3 minutes, 0.5 seconds and held off Longwood’s James Lenihan to win the 1,000 meters in Middle Country’s 65-44 win over Longwood at a frosty Newfield High School in a Suffolk dual meet.

Lenihan ran 3:01 in a race that was in play from the gun.

"The first lap, I decided to go out at my pace," Rothwell said. "I took an early lead, trying to get on my pace and hold it for the first lap. [Lenihan] was on my shoulder. My goal going into the second lap was to increase my pace and for the last 200 meters, break ahead and create some distance."

Rothwell tried to create some of that space on the final turn, but Lenihan never let up, leading to a hold-your-breath final straightaway chase.

"There’s definitely a little bit of surprise," Rothwell said. "I had him on my shoulder for a majority of the race. Going into that last 200 meters, my focus was on, ‘Alright, I have him over my shoulder, I’m going to try and create some separation by increasing the pace.’ He was definitely coming up on me, but I gave everything I had left and finished up strong."

But PRs these days are not the norm. So much of this winter season is about managing expectations. Nico Lavazoli, who ran the ninth fastest time in the 300 preliminaries at the state championship last winter, won the same event Sunday in 37.3 seconds. He said he doesn’t expect to run as fast this year as last – his top time was 35.01 at the Suffolk state qualifiers, according to milesplit.com – but he was happy with the win.

"With the cold weather, the muscles were 10 times tighter, so we had to stretch 10 times more," he said. "The cold wind just made it harder to breathe."

Lavazoli, who did not use blocks at the start Sunday because he thought it was too cold for them to be effective, said he will go back to them next week.

"I think it’ll shave half a second [off my time]," he said.

Lavazoli, along with Devin Aviles, Joe Hackal, and Christian Charles won the 4 x 200 meter relay in 1:39:39. Charles also won the long jump, flying 17 feet, 8 ½ inches and was second in the 55 in seven seconds.

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