Mike Brannigan hasn't missed a beat. The Northport junior, who turned heads with a fantastic Cross Country season, continued to show that he is firmly stationed at the top of the L.I. distance running scene yesterday at the Hispanic Games, held at the Armory in Manhattan.
Brannigan, in his first race of the winter season, won the invitational mile in four minutes, 17.04 seconds. The victory qualified him for the Millrose Games, scheduled for Feb. 15 at the Armory.
"I'm happy and excited to qualify," Brannigan said, a giant grin plastered on his face.
Brannigan is nothing if not tactical. With the help of his coach, Jason Strom, Brannigan formulates a race plan and rarely strays from it. After all, most of the time, it works.
Saturday was no different. Brannigan stayed close behind Port Jefferson's James Burke, quite literally breathing down his neck for the majority of the race. "I wanted to stay right there, relaxed and smooth," Brannigan said. "I let Burke do all the work, stayed back, and enjoyed the ride."
Brannigan, as if finally being released from a tight stranglehold, revved his engines and passed Burke halfway through the final lap. It's a late kick that, although expected, always seems to work.
Endlessly committed to his training, Brannigan took a snow day on Friday. "I rested so that I was prepared for this race," Brannigan said.
Burke finished third in the race in 4:19.28. Shoreham-Wading River's Ryan Udvadia was fourth in 4:20.63. Northport's Tim McGowan, also running in his first race of the season, was fifth in 4:21.63.
The Northport senior said he is still adjusting from the cross country season. "It's difficult going from such a high endurance, mileage program to a more speed oriented event," Brannigan said. "That shift has been kind of weird, but we've been adapting well as a team. These past few days we've been dusting off the cobwebs to try and get ready for it, but we'll be ready for these next few meets."
Shoreham-Wading River's Keith Steinbrecher won the mile steeplechase in 4:47.73. The race was Steinbrecher's first indoor steeplechase.
"It's more of a hurdle race than it is a steeple because there's no water," he said. "Indoors, you hear a little more of the crowd."
That crowd noise was a big part of the victory, Steinbrecher said. "With about three laps to go, I really started to hear the crowd. I used that to help me finish the rest of the race."
Bay Shore's Omari Buckmire won the triple jump (45-113/4). Smithtown West's Ben Bonhurst won the shot put with a toss of 59-0. "My goal is 70 feet," Bonhurst said.