It started as a way to stay in shape for the soccer season, but Deer Park's Nkosi Burgess is making a name for himself in both his first, and last, high school track season. Burgess, a senior committed to play soccer at UConn this year, won the 400 meters in 53.65 seconds at the Deer Park Invitational at Deer Park High School on Tuesday.
It was his first invitational win and second overall victory this season, he said.
"I'm having a lot more fun than I expected," Burgess said. "I'm trying to make the best out of it. The coaches are great and all the guys on the team are really supportive of me. They help me out with everything I need. I didn't really know what was going on."
Burgess has proved that even though training and tactical racing ability is important, sometimes all that's needed is quick feet, raw talent, and the will to beat the runner next to you.
"I normally just go off instinct and try to do whatever I have to do to take first place," he said. "It's worked out twice already, so I'm definitely doing the right thing."
With two early victories under his belt, the season is no longer a glorified training ground for Burgess. He now has thoughts of championship-season glory.
"I want to go to state qualifiers and take it as far as I can from there," he said.
Earlier in the meet, North Babylon's Nick DiGiovanna won the 3,200 in 10:14.39.
"I wanted [a time] in the low 10s," he said. "I want to go under 10 minutes this season. When I saw I was seeded pretty high up, I was going for the win . . . I paced myself in the beginning of the race. A lot of the kids went out fast. I stayed back and conserved my energy for the second mile."
A long, competitive winter season did nothing to slow Bay Shore's Aviana Goode, not even momentarily. Goode won both the girls long jump, going 17 feet, 81/2 inches, and the 100-meter hurdles in 15.29 seconds.
Goode ran the 55 hurdles this winter. The spring version of that event is almost double the length, making the adjustment to it a meticulous process.
"The 100 hurdles is an endurance event, like the 400-meter hurdles," Goode said. "I run farther workouts in practice. I already had a little endurance, so I just have to add on to it."
Bay Shore took the top four places in the 1,500. Jasmin Reyes won in 4:56.60. Her teammate, Nia McCaslin, won the 800 in 2:27.17
Smithtown East's Jaclyn Gallery won the 3,000 in 11:00.81. It was the first race of her spring season. Gallery said she took two weeks off after the winter season ended, beginning her training early last week.
"I felt strong," Gallery said. "I just took it as a workout. It wasn't anything great, I just ran. I planned to run 11 minutes. It's only the beginning of the season. You don't want to burn out before the end of the season. I'll take it easy now. And in late April and early May, I'll start picking it up."