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Salute to the champs: Boys track

Dan Byrne shot puts 60 feet, 1/4 inch

Dan Byrne shot puts 60 feet, 1/4 inch during the New York State Championships at Union-Endicott High School on Friday, June 9, 2017. Credit: Thomas LaBarbera

NIGEL GREEN, Floyd, 100 meters

The third time was a charm for Green who, after two rounds of preliminaries in which he was looking up at the competition, came out on top when it mattered most, winning the 100 in 10.80 seconds.

“I was getting frustrated,” Green said. “I knew what I had to do and was making the same mistake. It was aggravating, but I had to keep my head up high. My coach was saying to me ‘you can’t stay frustrated. If you want to be a high school champion, you have to play hard like a champion.”

It was Green’s second state championship of the year. He won the Indoor public school 300 in March.

ANTHONY ROMEO, Oceanside, 110 hurdles

Romeo was among the best hurdlers in the entire state this season, making it fitting that he won the Division I 110 meter hurdle title in 14.76 seconds. He finished third overall in the race but, because the two top finishers did not hail from public schools, it was Romeo who was crowned king.

“I always aim to be calm, try my best, and never give up,” Romeo said.

Later that afternoon, he placed fifth in the Federation finals, clocking a 14.68. Romeo qualified for the state championship by placing second at the Nassau qualifier in 14.54 seconds. He won the Nassau AAA championship in 14.59 seconds.

KYREE JOHNSON, Huntington, 400 meters and long jump

Johnson’s final state championship found him in a very familiar place – the top of the podium. The senior took the state Federation 400 for the second consecutive season, winning a hard-fought race in 46.88 seconds. Hackley’s Onye Ohia-Enyia was second in 46.95 seconds and Half Hollow Hills West’s Jovahn Williamson was third in 46.96 seconds.

The victory came one day after Johnson topped Williamson in the Division I 400 in similar neck-and-neck fashion. In that race, Johnson ran a 46.56 and Williamson clocked a 46.96.

“I felt like it was much harder today because we had to run all-out yesterday,” Johnson said after the Federation win. “…It came down to who wanted it more.”

Johnson also won the Division I long jump, flying , 23 feet, 6 ½ inches.

MAURICE TEACHEY JR, Malverne 400 meters

Prior to two weeks ago, Teachey Jr. could only imagine what a state championship would feel like. When it finally happened, he just couldn’t find the words.

“I can’t believe it,” Teachey Jr said. “I’m still dreaming.”

Whenever he woke up, Teachey Jr .was still a state championship, winning the Division II 400 in 48.47 seconds. The senior finished second to Hackley’s Onye Ohia-Enyia but, because Hackley is a private school, Teachey Jr. was awarded the public-school-exclusive title.

Teachey Jr. knew that Ohia-Enyia was a formidable foe and that every meter would count.

“I knew I had to come out strong in the first 200,” Teachey Jr. said. “I did that, and (Ohia-Enyia) came up beside me and I thought ‘I still have to run my race.’ I kicked with 150 meters (left) and the last 100 meters was just everything I had.”

JONATHAN LAUER, Sachem North, 3,000 steeplechase

After years of immense Cross Country success, both on the county and state level, Lauer finally captured his first state championship while running the 3,000 meter steeplechase, an event that combines distance, endurance, and hurdling.

“It’s a day I dreamt of since I was a freshman,” Lauer said. “It’s beautiful to finally make it happen at my last meet ever.”

Lauer ran a 9:16.72 en route to victory, sitting towards the top of the pack before making his move on the final steeple.

“My coach told me to stay calm, patient, and up in that front pack the whole way,” Lauer said.

NORTHPORT (Isaiah and Elijah Claiborne, Tyler Dollhausen, and Dan O’Connor), 4 x 800 meter relay

Only a few years after Northport dominated the national relay scene with future Paralympic gold medalist Mike Brannigan at the helm, it appears the program is back. Isaiah and Elijah Claiborne, Tyler Dollhausen, and Dan O’Connor won the state championship in 7:42.61.

“That was one of our big things,” Dollhausen said of Northport’s past relay pedigree. “We were always looking up to them and seeing them as the highest thing. To be able to go up there, do the time they did, and even go better was inspirational to us and kept us going faster and farther.”

The group ran a 7:48.44 at the Suffolk State Qualifiers and won the outdoor national championship in 7:37.42, a Suffolk County record, coach Jason Strom said.

DANIEL CLAXTON, Smithtown East, high jump

Three out of four ain’t bad, especially when it comes to state championships. Claxton has won three out of the last four high jump state titles, encompassing both indoor and outdoor track. This time, he cleared seven feet- a number that defined his senior year to do so.

Claxton, who said he had trouble clearing certain heights early in the spring season, had it all come together when the stakes were at their highest.

“It all came together and I had a bunch of really good jumps,” Claxton said. “They were all first attempt clearances to seal the deal. Getting those early attempts helped me out in the end.”

Claxton won the national championship, clearing seven feet, ¼ of an inch.

DAN BYRNE, Kings Park, shot put

Byrne was the king of the circle all season in the shot put, putting a bow on his year with a 60 foot, ¼ of an inch toss to win the Division I shot put toss. Byrne won the event at the Suffolk state qualifier, hurling the shot put 57 feet, 6 ½ inches. He won the Division II Suffolk outdoor championship with a 60 foot, 2 ½ inch toss.

Byrne, who won the indoor state title as well, placed second in the Federation shot put, sending his high school career into the sunset with a 57 foot, one inch toss.

RYAN CUMMINGS, Bellmore JFK, pentathlon

Right before Cummings took off in the 1,500 meters, the final event of the grueling state pentathlon, his coach, Cici Hirsch, had some inspiring words for him.

“She said, I’m not going to tell you exactly where you are,” Cummings said. “But, I’m just going to say ‘you have to beat these two people, go out and run your race.”

The words worked. Cummings finished the 1,500 in 4:49.85, a 12th place finish that garnered him enough points to win the Division I pentathlon with 3,165 points. Cummings placed fourth in the 110 hurdles (15.57 seconds), 17th in the high jump (5 – 7 ¾), 14th in the shot put (35-6), and second in the long jump (20-10 ¾). He was third in the Federation pentathlon.


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