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Silhan's clutch win gives Bay Shore title

Bay Shore's county title dream came down to one final leap in the dark.

Evening was giving way to nightfall Thursday at Bellport, and the Marauders trailed Northport by four points for the Suffolk girls Division I championship. Their title hopes rested on a bar raised five feet, three inches off the ground at the high jump pit, and it was all up to Erica Silhan to win it.

Not that she felt any pressure, though.

"I didn't know at all that we were losing," the sophomore said. "My team did and my coaches did, but they never told me because they thought it would have thrown me off."

With the title on the line, Silhan soared. Her winning jump of 5-3 made the difference as Bay Shore claimed its ninth county championship in the last 12 years. The Marauders came away with 119 points to edge Northport (112).

Kings Park won the Division II title with 114 points, while Bayport-Blue Point took the Division III title with 112 points.

The Marauders trailed Northport 69-51 with six events left, but Imani McGhee jumped an 18-1 on her final attempt in the long jump to defeat Northport's Sara Ronde (17-83/4) for the win. In the next event, the 200, Brianah Allen (25.55) edged Ronde (25.56) by one hundredth of a second as Bay Shore continued to close the gap.

"That got us back in it," Bay Shore coach Steve Borbet said. "To beat an athlete like [Ronde] twice, that's like lightning striking twice. Our kids came through, and that got us on a roll."

Bay Shore went on to win the 4 x 800 and the 4 x 100, but a costly false-start in the 4 x 400 left them trailing 112-109 with only the high jump left -- meaning Silhan needed to finish third or better for the Marauders to win the county crown.

It came down to a jumpoff between Silhan and Sachem North's Kristie Michta to determine the winner. Both competitors missed the opening jump of 5-4, cleared the second height of 5-3, then missed again at 5-4. The bar was brought back down to 5-3, and after Michta missed, Silhan cleared it to earn the win -- and a celebratory mobbing by her teammates.

"When my team came running over to me, I was a little confused," she said. "They were like, 'You didn't know,' and then I kind of figured it out."

Said Borbet of Silhan: "She handled the pressure really well. You don't get into too many situations like that in life, and she really came through."

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