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Netta Mualem, Gabriella Burgos prove to be quick learners for GNN track

Great Neck North's Alexis Namdar takes her team

Great Neck North's Alexis Namdar takes her team to a first place finish in the distance medley relay at the Massapequa Under the Lights track and field Invitational at Massapequa on Friday, May 12, 2017. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Not only are the girls on the Great Neck North distance medley relay team fast runners, but they’re quick learners, too. Sometimes, victory in track and field is as much about adaptation as it is talent — and the foursome of Netta Mualem, Gabriella Burgos, Vera Cho and Alexis Namdar showed both at the Massapequa ‘Under the Lights’ meet at Massapequa High School Friday afternoon.

Both Mualem and Burgos ran relatively new distances, Mualem leading off with the 1,200-meter leg and Burgos following with the 400. Both kept the squad in contention and allowed Cho and Namdar to speed toward a 13 minute, 59.95 second finish.

“I’ve never really run a 1,200 before, so I was just trying to figure out how to run it,” Mualem, normally a 3,000 and 800-meter runner, said. “But, I felt good during the race . . . It’s a different style of running. You have to get used to shorter distance. I had to start out a little faster and try to get as far as I could.”

After putting her team in the lead, Mualem handed off to Burgos who, after spending most of her high school career as a distance runner, is finishing up her senior spring season running 400s. “For me, it’s about building up speed and maintaining it,” Burgos said of the biggest challenge to running the new length. “I’m used to having a lot of distance to be able to roll up to the speed and finish strong.”

Burgos said it took her approximately a month to get the hang of that kind of speed. But, by Friday, she had it down pat. “Off the turn, I think I picked it up pretty well, and I had a strong finish,” Burgos said.

The final two legs saw a mad dash to the finish, with Namdar taking the lead early in her 1,600 anchor leg and holding on.

A dominant leadoff leg by Aidan Healy led St. John the Baptist to a runaway victory in the boys distance medley relay. Healy, along with Derrick Magwood, Kyle McCormack and Thomas Roulette, won in 11:00.53, more than thirty seconds faster than the field.

“I tried to start out pretty fast and then hold a good pace, just about 60 [seconds per lap],” Healy said. “Then, I tried to kick for the last lap and a half . . . The second I didn’t hear anyone’s footsteps behind me, I knew I had a pretty big lead.”

The group used the DMR, in part, to ramp up for next weekend’s CHSAA championships. Those championships are something that many on the current squad have been looking forward to since last spring, when St. John the Baptist was awarded the team title, only to have it taken away from them less than an hour later when a scorers error revealed that St. Anthony’s had won by a fraction of a point.

“This is just the beginning,” Magwood, who will run the 400 at the league championships next week, said. “I just want to win to make up for last year.”

In the field, Valley Stream North’s Tyler John won both the boys long jump (21 feet, 11 inches) and triple jump (44-0). St. Anthony’s Jason Wright won the shot put, tossing 48-3 and Massapequa’s Brittney Membreno won the girls discus with a toss of 115-6.

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