North Shore’s Diana Vizza is no stranger to top competition and after spending the last few weeks racing in local championships, she returned to racing elite high school competition at the Millrose Games on Saturday at the Armory in Manhattan.
She didn’t disappoint, finishing third in 4 minutes, 52.77 seconds against a top-flight field in the New Balance high school girls mile. Kate Murphy of Lake Braddock, Virginia, took first in 4:41.84.
After hanging in the back of the pack for most of the race, Vizza surged late to take her spot.
“I tried to just sort of run hard like I ran at the trials,” Vizza said. “It definitely wasn’t the perfect strategy, but I sort of knew who I was with.”
Vizza said her experience running on the Armory track taught her how to compete against high-level competition and adjust to the environment. She had seen most of Saturday’s runners before.
“You get to focus on speed and just competing, clearing your mind and competing against the other girls — knowing where to move,” Vizza said. “You definitely become more brave as a runner here.”
Former North Shore runner Samantha Nadel won the race in 2011 and 2012, and Vizza said that success gave her inspiration coming into Millrose.
“It feels really cool to bring the North Shore legacy back,” Vizza said. “It was an awesome experience.”
St. Anthony’s Ryan Dearie finished the boys high school mile in 4:18.82 for a 10th-place finish.
The Huntington 4 x 400-meter relay team of Kyree Johnson, Lawrence Leake, Shane McGuire and Infinite Tucker had another record-breaking performance, this time finishing the Long Island boys 4 x 400 in 3:17.36 and toppling the Millrose meet record of 3:18.34 set by Elmont in 2013 and the Suffolk record of 3:18.93 set by Half Hollow Hills West in 2011.
Tucker anchored the team, creating more space between himself and the competition with his customary final surge. He got faster the farther he ran.
“To be honest, I have to give it to the crowd,” Tucker said. “Every time the crowd gets loud, I just figure someone’s on my back, so I just keep pushing and going faster and faster.”
The team assembled for this race included McGuire, a new face who had a good week of practice and was inserted into the lineup, coach Ron Wilson said. McGuire said he had a lot of expectations going in.
“I’m the new kid, so there’s a lot of pressure,” McGuire said.
Johnson ran 26 minutes after finishing sixth in the high school boys 55 meters in 6.55, but he said the quick turnaround didn’t have a negative effect.
Huntington’s next stop comes at the state championship in Ithaca on March 5. It’ll be looking to repeat as state champion.
The top-seeded Uniondale girls 4 x 400 team of Ayanna Whittaker, Kristina Cherrington, Zaria Fuller and Asia Jinks backed up expectations in the Long Island 4 x 400 with a strong 3:58.17 showing to win the race for the second year in a row.
“We felt pressure even though we had the defending champion time,” Cherrington said. “We knew that the teams are stepping up, and we had to do our best.”
The race came less than half an hour after Uniondale finished fourth in the eastern high school girls 4 x 200 relay in 1:42.42. The toll of the quick turnaround was visible afterward as all four runners sat on the floor to recoup.
“We knew we had to go out and do the best that we can coming back from the 4 x 200,” Cherrington said.