Northport’s 4 x 800-meter relay team isn’t playing around anymore. They know who they are and they want the rest of the state, if not the country, to know it too. With a week-and-a-half remaining until the state championships, the quartet are the new standard-bearers in New York, winning in seven minutes, 48.26 seconds at the 84th Eastern States indoor championships, held at the Armory in Manhattan Tuesday night.
The time, run by twins Elijah and Isaiah Claiborne, Thomas Fodor, and Dan O’Connor, is the fastest in the state and the second fastest in the country. Only Virginia’s Loudoun Valley, who ran 7:45.70 in late January, has put forth a quicker mark, according to milesplit.com.
The time also broke the school record, a 7:51.01, set in 2013, Northport coach Jason Strom said. It is less than one second off the Suffolk record, a 7:47.68, set by West Islip in 2016, according to Suffolkxctf.com.
Northport ran 7:55.79 at the Millrose Games Trials on Jan. 10, a mark that became a bit of a frustrating plateau for the team in the last month.
“I think, especially after tonight, it showed that we’re here to play and we’re not just 7:55 guys like we were,” Fodor said. “ . . . I don’t think we can be discounted anymore.”
Tuesday night’s race was over pretty quickly, with Elijah taking out the opening leg with unmatchable abandon and making sure his teammates spent their time chasing the clock, and not the field.
“In the beginning of the race, I was focused on sitting on the top guys and hoping they would pace me,” Elijah said. “But, it went out too slow at 58 [seconds]. With 300 meters to go, I started kicking and going by myself. It was very important for me to get out, especially in a big heat like that. I was hoping to get the lead for my team, so they wouldn’t have to worry about people chasing them from behind.”
Elsewhere, Uniondale used a giant kick by anchor leg Christopher Borzor to come-from-behind and win the 4 x 200-meter relay in 1:29.80. New Jersey’s Elizabeth was second in 1:29.85.
Borzor said that, when he got the baton, he didn’t believe he had enough leg to make up a fairly significant deficit.
“I was trying to push myself at the end,” Borzor, who ran with Tyler Edmeade, Giordano Williams, and Asiel King, said. “On the final straightaway, I started to close him out.”
While the team was happy to walk out of the Armory with the victory, they know that they have some kinks to work out before the state championships if they want to walk out of that meet with the same results.
“In the semifinals, we like how we started,” Edmeade said. “We had the lead after the first two legs. It was the position we wanted to be in. When we got to finals, we weren’t in the best position. But, at this meet, we know that these teams will help us at the states because these teams come from every state and are the best in their states. From what we saw in the finals, we know we have to improve the way we start and our finish will always be strong.”