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Mount Sinai's Ken Wei dominates state track meet

Mt. Sinai's Ken Wei, center, crosses the finish

Mt. Sinai's Ken Wei, center, crosses the finish in first to win the 100 meter hurdles at the NYSPHSAA Track and Field Championships at Middletown High School in Middletown, NY, Saturday, June 8, 2019. Wei won the race. (Heather Ainsworth for Newsday) Photo Credit: Heather Ainsworth/Heather Ainsworth

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – There was a lot for Ken Wei to be excited about Saturday afternoon. The Mount Sinai senior dominated the state track and field championships at Middletown High School, winning two Federation championships and garnering five first-place finishes

But, perhaps the thing Wei was most excited about was the wind. Wei won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.86 seconds on the second and final day, running into a nasty headwind as he sprinted towards glory.

“At our division meet (last month), there was a huge tailwind and I ran 13.89,” Wei said. “I was very happy about that. But, it was wind-assisted and doesn’t really count in the record books and stuff. Today, I ran faster than that into a headwind. I (set a personal best) and I’m very happy.”

Wind or not, Wei was prepared for anything.

“My coach always makes me do squats, a lot of weight training, and a lot of explosive work,” Wei said. “I like to think I’m one of the most powerful runners on the track. The wind doesn’t really affect me as much. I just have to run a clean race and everything will run really smoothly.”

Wei also won the long jump championship, going 23 feet, 3 inches. He finished third in the triple jump (46-10) and won the Division II 110 hurdles (14.05), the Division II long jump (24-3), and the Division II triple jump (48-0.75) over the course of the weekend.

Elsewhere, Northport’s Sean Ryan won the 1,600 in 4:10.78. Ryan moved into second place as the final lap began, tried unsuccessfully to pass Bronxville’s Alex Rizzo on the back straightaway, and finally moved past Rizzo with 50 meters left.

“I was holding back a little bit, but (Rizzo) definitely surged because he knew I was there,” Ryan said. “In the end, he was definitely a little tired and I felt a lot stronger than he was feeling … It’s all arms and staring at that finish line.”

Whitman’s Jack Poplawski won his second consecutive state pentathlon championship with 3,477 points. Poplawski placed sixth in the 110-hurdles (15.57), tied for seventh in the high jump (5- 11¼) and long jump (19-9¾), was third in the shot put (42-6¼), and won the 1,500 in 4:21.79.    

Brentwood’s Frank Grey won the 400 in 47.88, and Huntington’s 4X400 relay team, composed of CJ Kiviat, Anthony Joseph, Justin Stevens, and Johnathan Smith, won in 3:14.95. It was Huntington’s second state championship this year. The team won the indoor state title in March.

“We wanted it bad,” Smith said of the back-to-back championship. “… We all just dug into the ground, had quick feet on the ground, and just came home.”

Smith was even with Newburgh Free Academy‘s Ryler Gould when he received the final handoff and ran a 47.52-second anchor leg to secure the title.

“I knew that he was a good runner – fast and strong,” Smith said. “We almost run the same times. I just wanted to get out fast and hold on because I knew he would be right behind me, on my tail.”

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