Sacred Heart’s Ellen Byrnes stood beside the track Tuesday morning at St. Anthony’s High School, wind whipping through her hair, sun shining on her face. She was nervous, not because it was her first race of the spring, but because of the increasingly blustery conditions.
This is one of the main differences between the winter and spring seasons. No longer is it just about battling the opponent next to you, it can also be about battling Mother Nature. This time, she chose to play a runner’s least favorite card: unrelenting wind.
“I definitely felt it down the back straightaway,” Byrnes said. “It was really pushing against me. But once I got to the home straightaway, it kind of helped me run a little faster.”
Byrnes battled through the wind on her way to a 2:23.10 victory in the 800 meters at the Post-Easter Classic. Besides the heavy gusts, she had two other adversaries to deal with.
The first, Our Lady of Mercy’s Cecilia Winthrop, stuck behind Byrnes as they entered the bell lap. But with approximately 300 meters left, Byrnes left Winthrop behind. Almost as soon as Winthrop faded, St. Anthony’s Gianna Mincone became Byrnes’ main competitor. Mincone edged up the back straightaway, nestling right behind Byrnes, close enough to keep her from ever gaining a clear advantage.
“I expected her,” Byrnes said of Mincone’s surge. “I know she’s a very strong runner.”
The wind that Byrnes worked so hard to fight on the back straightaway helped her accelerate even more as she sprinted the final 50 meters to avoid being caught at the line.
“My legs were getting a little tired,” Byrnes said. “I knew they were right behind me. I just had to go as hard as I could. I heard [Mincone’s] footsteps and I thought she was about to pass me. That pushed me to go a little faster. ”
Mincone finished second in 2:24.10. Winthrop was third in 2:35.80.
Elsewhere, Holy Trinity’s girls 4x100-meter relay team — Kim Peragine, Aries Burrell, Jeanine DeSouza and Victoria St. John — won in 49.80 seconds.
On the boys side, Chaminade dominated the 800 meters. Christopher Loumeau won in 2:04.00, edging teammate Brandon Mirabella (2:04.70). Christopher Strzelinski (2:05.40) was third and William Reich (2:08.10) ran fourth. Chaminade’s John Rogers won the 400 in 51.90 seconds, and St. John the Baptist’s Chris Tinti won the 1,600 in 4:40.60.