To this point, the majority of Shane McGuire’s success has come as part of a unit. And he’s fine with that. Why wouldn’t he be? His team has been more successful than most. More successful than, perhaps, any other group in the country. The Huntington junior runs on the Blue Devils’ 4 x 400 meter relay, the same one that won the indoor national championship and, entering Friday, boasted the best outdoor time in the state.
And he wouldn’t trade that for the world. But after all, he is human. A little individual success is nice every now and again. So it was understandable when his face showed a smile as wide as an eight-lane track when he crossed the finish line a winner in one minute, 53.64 seconds in the 800 meters on the first day of the Suffolk track and field state qualifier, held Friday afternoon at Port Jefferson.
The victory qualified McGuire for the state championships, scheduled for next Friday and Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse.
“It feels good,” McGuire said. “With Infinite [Tucker] and Kyree [Johnson] winning most every event, I wanted this one for myself. I gave it everything I could.”
McGuire sneaked up on, and then outkicked, two of the county’ss best middle distance runners, Riverhead’s Luke Coulter and Hauppauge’s Nick Beglane. Coulter was second in 1:53.70 and Beglane third in 1:53.96.
McGuire, who began at the top of the middle pack, spent the first lap and a half trying to stay with Coulter and Beglane. With 200 meters left, he noticed the leaders slowing and recognized that he could use his speed to outsprint them down the final straightaway.
“I’ve never been that close to them in a race,” McGuire said. “I never would have imagined being that close. I decided that I might as well just go for it.”
When the realization that he first by a hair at the finish line came, McGuire said he felt better than he ever has . . . well, almost.
“It was probably one of the best feelings of my life,” he said. “Besides winning nationals.”
The girls 800 also came down to the final straightaway. Mercy’s Meg Tuthill passed West Babylon’s Paige Keefer in the final 20 meters to take the race in 2:11.52. Keefer was second in 2:11.61.
Keefer took the lead out of a tight pack with 350 meters left but Tuthill, who never completely convinced herself that Keefer couldn’t be caught, kicked with 200 left and outpaced the West Babylon junior.
“I saw [Keefer] was struggling on the last straightaway, so I moved out to lane two,” Tuthill said. “It’s kind of all a blur, but at the last absolute step I got her.”
Shoreham-Wading River’s Katherine Lee took the 3,000 meters in 9:48.60. Harborfields’ Ryan Scanlon won the 3,200 in 9:43.14. Scanlon had to watch out for a charging Jeff Reyes of Bay Shore who was second in 9:43.98.
“I was afraid of Reyes’ kick, so my strategy was to try and gap him a bit and I just held him off in the end,” Scanlon said.