Tristen Michaud of Longwood, center, poses for pictures alongside Thomas...

Tristen Michaud of Longwood, center, poses for pictures alongside Thomas Acosta of Northport, left, and Jacob Park of Half Hollow Hills West after competing in the boys pole vault during Day 2 of the Suffolk indoor track and field championships and state qualifiers at St. Anthony's on Friday. Credit: James Escher

Longwood pole vaulter Tristen Michaud dealt with a back injury over the last couple of weeks that led him to doubt his ability. Northport’s Thomas Acosta came a few spots short of qualifying for the state championship last season. And Half Hollow Hills West’s Jacob Park didn’t even participate in indoor track and field before this season.

But none of that stopped the three athletes from qualifying for the state indoor track and field championships on Friday at the Suffolk state qualifying meet at St. Anthony’s High School. Michaud and Acosta became Suffolk’s first co-champions in the pole vault in “recent history,” according to county coordinator Debra Ferry.

Park, Acosta and Michaud all cleared 14 feet, crushing the qualifying mark of 13 feet after no one exceeded 12 feet, 9 inches last year. Acosta and Michaud narrowly edged Park for the first two spots on the podium after neither missed a single attempt leading up to their final one.

“I thought that if I could pursue pole vaulting in the winter, it would really pay off,” said Park, who also wrestled this winter. “And it did.”

Michaud and Acosta went back and forth at different heights to try and break their tie. But after each pole vaulter made their attempts, the meet officials confirmed with the coaches/athletes that they were OK with a tie. The two shared the top spot at 14-3.

“I didn’t think I was going to do anything [because of my back],” said Michaud, who won the event in 2023. “It’s just awesome. I’m really happy.”

Acosta said he views his run as the most important part of the event. He said that was why he helped shovel snow from the track so he could practice after Tuesday’s winter storm.

“It’s a complete world of difference [from last year],” Acosta said. “It’s been a lot of training and work on my own. It’s definitely a lot of commitment that not a lot of people are doing.”

Booth Alam clears 10 feet

The runway was a constant host of dramatic finishes on Friday. As Connetquot senior Lara Booth Alam began her third and final trip down the runway, she decided to pass rather than risk the attempt, giving herself a redo.

“I kind of get in my head about that stuff. I think all pole vaulters do,” Booth Alam said. “The step didn’t feel right and I didn’t want to mess up my last one and gamble.”

It was the right call as she became the only girl to clear 10 feet on her next attempt, defending her 2023 title.

“I will go in having the experience of going last year, which was a little shaky for me,” Booth Alam said. “This year I’m definitely going in a little more confident and hoping for the best.”

Rocky Point’s Ava Almeida began pole vaulting only last spring. She was the only underclassman to qualify on Friday after she cleared 9-6.

“It’s great, I’m really excited about it,” Almeida said. “I just envisioned myself doing it first and then tried my best.”

Weight toss qualifiers

Suffolk also had four athletes qualify for the state tournament in weight toss Friday. Northport’s Mason Hecht and Deklan Semo earned spots with throws of 52-8 and 52-5 1⁄4, respectively. Neither had qualified in years past, making it a memorable achievement for both.

“Seeing Deklan succeed right next to me, it’s perfect,” Hecht said. “It’s honestly a dream we’ve had together.”

“The only person that I’m happy about beating me is my teammate,” Semo said.

Bay Shore senior Sarina Buono and Smithtown West junior Anna Diakou qualified on the girls side with throws of 38-4 1⁄2 and 35-1 1⁄4, respectively. Diakou narrowly qualified ahead of Islip’s Sabrina Frazer (35- 1⁄4).

After “a lot of adjusting,” Diakou returned to the same place she used to practice on as a Friar after transferring this year from St. Anthony’s.

“I really just cleared my mind,” Diakou said. “I was focused, remaining calm and just threw like I was at practice.”

Buono was the only qualifier who had already booked their ticket to the state tournament prior to Friday thanks to winning second place in shot put (36-2) on Wednesday.

“I think it’s fun to go for two events,” Buono said. “I’m glad that I got to do it my senior year.”

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months