By the time Syosset’s Justin DePinto got to the front of the pack in the Nassau Class AAA 1,600 meter championship Wednesday afternoon, he wasn’t letting anyone pass him. Getting up to the top was hard enough, he wasn’t going to watch his hard-fought lead slip away.
“I wanted this win really bad,” said DiPinto, who won in four minutes, 27.66 seconds at Westbury High School. “No one was taking that away from me the last 100 [meters].”
DePinto came-from-behind to beat Calhoun’s Ryan Happel, who had opened up a healthy lead with 600 meters left. But DePinto didn’t give up, slowly moving up towards Happel and finally passing him off the final turn.
“As soon I rounded that turn, I thought ‘I feel great. I’m just going to go get him.’ That’s what I did,” DePinto said. “Once I passed him, I kind of thought he wasn’t going to have an answer. But, it was a [heck] of a race by him. That was a great race plan.”
DePinto had to fight off a rather late boxing in. Normally, that kind of thing happens early in a race, before the field spreads out. But, because the race was so tightly compacted for the first two laps – with virtually everyone in the heat within a few steps of the lead, DePinto found himself boxed in on the second-to last lap.
“I kind of had to slow myself down,” DePinto said. “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little gap. I was like, ‘that’s my only chance of getting out of here without falling.’ I waited, got out of the gap, and made up some ground.”
On the team side, Uniondale flexed their muscle yet again, winning the championship with 103 points. Giordano Williams won the 100 in 10.87 seconds and the 200 in 21.86. Asiel King won the 110-meter hurdles in 14.33 seconds and Jadan Hanson won the long jump (22 feet, ¾ of an inch) and the triple jump (45-8). He finished second in the high jump, losing in a jump off to Calhoun’s Matthew Condenzio. The both cleared six feet, five inches.
Farmingdale’s distance squad had an impressive day as well. Patrick Smyth won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10:10.32 and Anthony Diaz won the 3,200 in 9:45.77.
Smyth ran the steeplechase effortlessly, popping out of the water with precision. In addition to his practices with the school team, Smyth has been running in road races this season to further improve his distance training. He won the 10K at the Long Island Marathon on May 5.
“I feel like it’s definitely helping, a little over-distance and aerobics being built in,” said Smyth, who will run at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy next school year. "In college, I’m probably going to get bumped up to 5Ks and 10Ks on the track, so getting myself more exposed to the distance is my motivation for it…I’ve been [doing three events] at every meet this year, so I’m definitely trying to get a little more distance in because I’m running three and a half miles every meet.”
Elsewhere, Massapequa’s Nicholas Bianco beat East Meadow’s Brandon Love in a pole vault jump off. They both cleared 15 feet, which qualifies them for the state championships as per the state’s new ‘super-standard’ rule, should they compete in next weekend’s Nassau State Qualifier, Nassau boys coordinator Ed Corona said. The state championships are scheduled for June 7-8 at Middletown High School.