Jonathan Lauer didn’t think he deserved the accolades that followed his performance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, but the clock doesn’t lie.
The Sachem North senior used a shockingly powerful kick from the bell of the final lap to outlast Smithtown West’s Michael Grabowski in 9 minutes, 14.14 seconds at the Suffolk County track and field state qualifiers Saturday in Port Jefferson. Lauer’s time bested Grabowski’s for the county record and is the fastest time in the country this season, bettering the previous mark of 9:17.99.
“I feel like I’m just a Long Island kid, and I can’t even really compare myself to the rest of the country because they’re so much better than I am,” Lauer said.
The race proved otherwise. He stayed on Grabowski’s shoulder and somehow summoned the strength to create space with 400 meters remaining in a grueling race that includes jumping over barriers and pushing through a water pit.
“I was nervous as hell, honestly,” Lauer said. “I got sick before the race just out of pure nerves because I knew Grabowski always puts up an outstanding fight.”
Many times a runner comes in with a plan, waiting for the right moment to strike. This race wasn’t that, but rather a test of pure stamina.
“With 350 to go, I felt it under my legs,” Lauer said. “You can’t explain the feeling. Your mind takes over your body and you focus on that finish line no matter what. You do whatever it takes to get to the finish line.”
He’ll head to the state championships in Endicott this coming weekend with expectations, but before then, he’ll have to get used to being at the top of the national leader board.
“That’s sweet,” he said.
Floyd’s Nigel Greene found the space he needed in the last 10 meters of the 100 to win in 10.76. He leaned his chest across the finish with stretched arms, not wanting to put anything to chance after not qualifying for states by three-hundreths of a second last year.
“I did get a slow start,” he said. “A little nervous because this is big-time stuff, but I used my effort at the end and now I’m ready to go to states.”
He went on to set a meet record in the 200 in 21.44.
Smithtown East’s Daniel Claxton set a county record in the high jump with a 7-foot, 1 3⁄4-inch leap. Huntington’s Kyree Johnson won the 400 in 46.68, the fastest time in the state this season.