The baton couldn’t enter Alexandria Yarbrough’s hand fast enough. She was nervous, excited, anxious, and antsy all at the same time. The Freeport senior had a lead to catch and she didn’t intend on stalling any longer.
And it showed.
Yarbrough snatched the top position back from Huntington on the opening lap of her twice-round anchor leg and cruised to a 56.56-second split, giving Freeport and her teammates, sisters Enyero and Efe Omokeni, and Lizbeth Marine, the win in three minutes, 56.64 seconds in the Long Island girls 4x400 meter relay at the 113th Millrose Games at the Armory in Manhattan Saturday afternoon.
“I was just really eager to get the baton,” Yarbrough said. “I just knew I had to push really fast and get that first place . . . It was a different type of energy. Last year, we [finished second], so I was really trying to make sure we had that first place. The crowd was cheering and I fed off that energy. The other three legs did amazing and I knew I had to finish strong.
Freeport took a commanding lead to start the relay, but Huntington, who finished second in 3:58.10, overtook them on the third leg.
“My first leg [Enyero Omokeni] did really well, so I was just feeding off her,” said Marine, who ran the second leg in 59.3 seconds. “I just pushed out my first lap and kept that same pace and got it off to my third leg.”
Enyero opened the race with a 59.05-second split.
“I needed to get out and pick up the pace to give the other legs a chance to pick that lead up,” she said.
The Huntington boys, composed of Tyriek Mays-McKoy, C.J. Kiviat, Justin Stevens, and Anthony Joseph, dominated their version of the Long Island 4x4, winning in a commanding 3:19.80. Smithtown West was second in 3:22.48. The win marked another notch in the preverbal victory belt for the Huntington 4x400 program, who are defending indoor and outdoor state champions and have a recent history of big victories behind them.
Kiviat, Stevens and Joseph are returning from last year’s state championship squad. Mays-McKoy slotted in nicely and ran a 50.23-second leadoff leg to start the Saturday route.
“I was nervous at first,” Mays-McKoy said. “It was my first time doing this, so it was kind of a new feeling for me. I knew I had spots to fill and I didn’t want to upset my team, so I just went out there and ran the best I could . . . I got in the zone. I knew what my goal was and I went for it.”
Mays–McKoy’s teammates were impressed with his performance.
“I think we’re going to run him more, now that he’s run a really quick time,” said Kiviat, who ran the second leg in 50.05 seconds. “He’s a really big part [of the team] and I’m really proud of how he ran today . . . [First legs] are one of the strongest legs. It’s not like you run the first lap at 80 percent. He’s going all-out the whole way. He’s not stopping. That’s what I look for in a first leg.”
By the time Kiviat’s leg was over, the victory was merely a formality.
“I used my eight seconds of pure energy to get out,” he said. “It was really close between [Mays-McKoy] and Smithtown [West]. I just grabbed the baton and went. I opened up a pretty big lead from there.”
Joseph moved into the anchor role this year and ran a 50.07-second final leg.
“I like it,” Joseph said. “I’ve always wanted to be anchor. It feels good because I have weight on my shoulders, so if I mess up, I can redeem myself.”
In the field, Commack’s Alissa Braxton was third in the triple jump, flying 40 feet, four inches. North Rockland’s Nadia Saunders went 40 feet, seven inches to win.