Over his first three years of indoor track, a county title proved to be elusive for Evan Parise.
But on Saturday morning, the Babylon senior successfully chased down not only one, but two championships.
“I’m sitting on top of the world right now,” Parise said after notching exhilarating victories in both the 300 meters (36.23 seconds) and 55 (6.66) at the Suffolk Boys Small School track and field team championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. “It means a lot. It shows that the hard work I’ve put in over the past four years has really paid off.”
Essentially side by side with Eastport-South Manor’s Pierson Faldetta (36.25) as they surged toward the finish line, Parise ultimately prevailed.
“On the back turn, I saw him on the inside coming up,” Parise said. “And I just had to push. My coach was standing down there screaming. And I just outlegged him. It was a close one. It was anyone’s race in that one.”
In his first event of the day, Parise also finished slightly ahead of Damani McLennon of Amityville (6.72) in the 55.
After coming up short on the county stage in previous years, Parise was thrilled to come away with a pair of titles in his final winter season.
“I always came here high-seeded and never could produce,” Parise said. “So I’m happy I could finally bring home some hardware.”
Parise helped lead Babylon’s 4 x 400-meter relay team to a second-place finish (3:37.19) as well, alongside Colin Winter, Andrew Lutz and John Savoca. Jake Giorlando, Tommy Grolz, Denver Dagostino and George Franks propelled Mount Sinai to victory (3:36.34).
Justin Wei was also a first-time county champion for the Mustangs, as he won the 55 hurdles (7.62), narrowly edging Ryan Bailey of Comsewogue (7.64).
Wei, who also finished second in the long jump (21 feet, 4 inches) and fourth in the triple jump (42-9 3/4), said overcoming a slow start was crucial to picking up the victory in the 55.
“It was a little scary because I was slow at the start but I ended up closing out in the end and I was pretty happy with it,” Wei said.
Mount Sinai won the team championship with 66 points. Hauppauge finished second with 61 points, and Eastport-South Manor placed third with a score of 50.
For Wei, the difference-maker in the hurdles was remaining focused on the mental aspect of the race.
“Just trying to keep focused,” Wei said. “Not allowing my mind to just stray off. I’ve got to stay focused and do my job.”
Shelter Island’s Kal Lewis won the 1,600 (4:28.25) thanks to a strong surge during the final lap, enabling him to pull away from the pack. Blake Buscemi of Miller Place was second (4:31.74), and Westhampton’s Gavin Ehlers, who was victorious in the 3,200 to begin the day (9:37.28), finished third (4:33.35).
“On the last lap, I decided I was going to leave it all out on the track,” Lewis said.
Placing first in the 600 was Hauppauge’s James Martinez (1:25.29), as he outlasted Mario Xerri of Mount Sinai (1:25.62) down the stretch.
“Having that extra kick at the end was huge,” Martinez said. “I’m glad that I had it, and it had me ahead of the rest at the end. That whole entire last straightaway is definitely very hard. My legs always feel so tired … I’m really proud that I pulled through.”
Martinez was also a part of Hauppauge’s winning 4 x 800 relay team, alongside Scott Petersen, Tyler Rutley and Dan Derby (8:39.92).
Other winners included Petersen in the 1,000 (2:40.95) and Tyler Charles in the triple jump (44-11 3/4) for the Eagles. Westhampton’s Jack Meigel placed first in the high jump (6-2), Quinn Smith of Hampton Bays won the shot put (56-5 1/2) and Russell Gradel of Kings Park won the long jump (21-8 1/2). Amityville’s relay team of McLennon, Jarrell Fisher, Faquan Nurse and Stanley Louis won the 4 x 200 (1:35.95).
Boys Small School Results
55: Parise, Babylon, 6.66. McLennon, Amityville, 6.72. Casseus, HW, 6.78.
55H: Wei, MS, 7.62. Bailey, Comsewogue, 7.64. Norrby, EI, 7.75.
300: Parise, Babylon, 36.23. Faldetta, ESM, 36.25. Franks, MS, 37.34.
600: Martinez, Hauppauge, 1:25.29. Xerri, MS, 1:25.62. Carballo, ESM, 1:26.71.
1,000: Petersen, Hauppauge, 2:40.95. Xerri, MS, 2:41.79. Flood, ESM, 2:44.51.
1,600: Lewis, SI, 4:28.25. Buscemi, MP, 4:31.74. Ehlers, Westhampton, 4:33.35.
3,200: Ehlers, Westhampton, 9:37.28. Silveri, ESM, 9:38.97. Metzler, MS, 9:56.77.
4X2:Amityville, 1:35.95. DP, 1:36.49. WB, 1:36.93.
4X4: MS, 3:36.34. Babylon, 3:37.19. ESM, 3:39.09.
4X8: Hauppauge, 8:39.92. ESM, 8:41.97. MS, 8:42.39.
Shot: Smith, HB, 56-5.50. Dennis, Amityville, 50-5.75. Ferreri, Hauppauge, 49-0.50.
High: Meigel, Westhampton, 6-2. Wehr, SWR, J6-2. Wynter, ESM, 6-0.
Long: Gradel, KP, 21-8.50. Wei, MS, 21-4. MacDonald, Hauppauge, 20-9.50.
Triple: Charles, Hauppauge, 44-11.75. Fisher, Amityville, 44-6.75. Norrby, EI, 42-10.25.
Team: Mt. Sinai, 66. Hauppauge, 61. Eastport-South Manor, 50.