North Babylon's Nailah Jones sat in the last row of the bleachers, wrapped in a blanket, looking for a moment of warmth. It was opening day of the spring outdoor season, but chilly temperatures and a cold wind made it feel anything but spring-like.
"Right before my race, I hit my legs a little bit to keep them stretched out and the blood pumping," Jones said of preparing to run in the mid-March cold.
Those legs were loose enough for victory. Jones won the 100 meters in 12.6 seconds at the Ross Goldin Developmental Meet, held Saturday morning at Bay Shore High School.
"I didn't think I would go that fast because it was really cold out," Jones said. "For the first meet of the season, this is a pretty good time."
In addition to the cold, Jones needed to account for extra distance in her spring event. For the past three months, she has been running the 55. Now, she has almost double the distance to cover before crossing the finish line.
"The 55 is really short, so you have to keep your speed up as soon as you start running," Jones said. "In the 100, the first 55 is really fast and, as you go across the last 45 meters, it gets even faster."
Jones also won the long jump at 17 feet, five inches. She led a strong group of North Babylon jumpers. Her teammates, Teena Mobley and Chloe Prosper, finished second and third, respectively. Mobley posted a 17-foot, 31/4-inch jump. Prosper covered 15 feet, two inches.
West Islip's Brooke Catalano won the 1,500 in 5:17.2. A late kick helped guide her toward the top honor.
"It was a very good race," Catalano said. "On the last lap, I saw that the leader wasn't that far ahead of me. I just pumped my arms and ran as fast as I could."
Despite the uncomfortable temperatures, Catalano prefers running outdoors. The atmosphere and air quality during indoor meets, according to the sophomore, can sometimes cause discomfort.
"It's easier to breath," she said. "It helps because my throat isn't hurting as much as it does in the winter. That helps me run faster."
Catalano's teammate, Jessica Ball, won the 400 in 1:03.
"I had a good start and was in the front two places for the first 300 meters," Ball said. "I ran a fluid race until the final 100 meters and kicked it at the end. The last 100, I felt confident, but you still have to be careful because anyone could [pass you] at any time."
Islip's Alexa Cassara and Melinda Fix also went home with first place medals. Cassara won the 800 in 2:40.6. Fix won the 800-meter walk in 4:12. Copiague's Zyare Brown won the 100-hurdles in 17.7 seconds.
"It was really hard because it's really cold," Brown said. "But I just thought about finishing strong and making sure I kept my form"