Plainedge’s Lauren Valenti needed nearly every inch of the track to notch a hard-fought individual double at the Nassau Class B track championships Tuesday night at St. Anthony’s High School. It wasn’t easy, not by a long shot, but she certainly earned every bit of it.
Valenti won both the 55 meters (7.45 seconds) and the 300 (42.36), needing a late push in both races.
“I get that last bit of energy,” Valenti said of the at-the-line wins. “It’s painful, but you still have to do it. I step through the finish line and make sure that I get there fast. ”
Valenti was barely able to outpace North Shore’s Caroline Reiner in the 300, moving up with approximately 150 meters to go. Reiner was second in 42.76 seconds. Valley Stream South’s Lindsay Smith was third in 43.20 seconds.
“I just had to get up a last bit of energy and push through to try to beat [Reiner],” Valenti said. “They are great competitors.”
In the 55, Valenti battled Valley Stream South’s Chibugo Obichere, who finished second in 7.47 seconds — only .02 seconds behind.
“That final was really rough,” Valenti said. “We were neck-and-neck the entire time, and I had to push through the [final few meters]. She was fast.”
Elsewhere, South Side freshman Carly Woelfel won the 3,000 in 11:03.51, breaking the South Side school record of 11:09.9, set by Jackie Bellando in 2009.
Woelfel took an early lead and never looked back, coasting the rest of the way.
“The past two or three races, I’ve tried to lead,” Woelfel said. “It was successful last race, so I went for it this race.”
In one of the more unexpected turn of events, Bethpage’s Justin Cano came out of the second heat to win the boys 600 meters in 1:25.00, a personal best. At championship meets (as well as most other regular season meets), runners are seeded based on the fastest times they’ve run during the season. Typically, the final heat consists of the fastest runners and, way more often than not, yields the winner.
But not Tuesday night. As the final heat was being run, Cano was still deconstructing his race. Then, as he saw North Shore’s Justin Rivera cross the finish line, Cano took a look at the clock. It read 1:25.40 — a little more than half a second slower than his time.
“Did I just get first place?” Cano thought, a mixture of incredulity and joy invading his thought process.
Cano had run the race of his life and was being rewarded for it with a county championship.
“The whole race, I kept hearing my coaches saying ‘stay ahead, stay ahead, keep running that pace,’ ” Cano recalled. “As they were saying that, I heard the other coaches saying ‘you’re right next to him. Get past him.’ In my mind, I was thinking that I had to keep going faster. I didn’t want anyone to pass me.”