Paige Sfiroudis didn’t want to take up hurdles, and she’s not afraid to admit why.
“When I first started it, I was really scared of [the hurdles],” the Calhoun senior said. “I was really intimidated.”
And who could blame her? The event is one of the more difficult in track and field — a relentless combination of timing, agility, and speed. One false move and a hurdler hits the deck in front of everyone.
“I mean, I’m kind of tall, so [Calhoun coach Joe Migliano] would say ‘you’re not going to fall, you’re too tall, you can just step over them,’ ” said the six-foot Sfiroudis. “But, I think that was always in the back of my mind, ‘oh my goodness, what if I fall in front of everyone right before the finish line?’ That’s what always scared me the most.”
Nearly four months into her first “hurdle-focused” indoor season, Sfiroudis has more league hurdle titles (1) than falls (0). She won the 55-meter hurdles in 9.13 seconds at the Nassau II Championships on Jan. 17.
The win was part of a trifecta of triumphs. Sfiroudis also won the long jump, flying 16 feet, 6 ¾ inches and the triple jump, going 33 feet, 4 ½ inches. The victories were key in Calhoun’s team championship, the first such title in the Colts’ history, Migliano said.
Sfiroudis said she intends to compete in all three of her individual events at the Nassau Class A Championships, scheduled for Feb. 6 at St. Anthony’s.
“I’m definitely more comfortable [in the hurdles] than I thought I would be, but I’m still going to have to keep working,” Sfiroudis said. “I’ve run faster than I did at [the Nassau II Championships], so I know I’m going to have to keep pushing myself. I can’t just stay settled where I am . . . ”
Sfiroudis’ personal best in the hurdles is 9.07 seconds. She believes she can knock those pesky milliseconds off and get under nine by season’s end.
“If it happens at counties that would just be amazing,” she said. “That’s where I’m trying to be.”
Sfiroudis said she is leaning toward focusing on her favorite event, the long jump, at the Nassau state qualifier meet on Feb. 13, but has not made her final decision.
“It’s all going to depend on what I’m the most comfortable doing, what I’m getting the best results from, and what [Migliano] thinks is best,” she said.
Even with the impressive hurdle results, long jump is where Sfiroudis thinks she really has hit her stride.
“Every time I’m jumping, I feel the difference in the air as I’m jumping,” she said. “I’m not just jumping into the pit, I’m launching myself into that. As long as I keep focusing on the actual feeling of hitting off the board and being able to do all that, hopefully that will just keep me going.”