Keith Steinbrecher knew that he had one more shot. The Shoreham-Wading River senior had been to the fall New York State cross country meet before, but never made it to the spring track and field state championships. To do so, Steinbrecher needed to lay it all on the line in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Suffolk State Qualifier, held Friday and Saturday at Port Jefferson High School.
Steinbrecher turned in his best performance at the exact right time, winning in 9 minutes, 30.28 seconds. The time is a Suffolk state qualifier record, breaking the mark of 9:32.90 by Smithtown West's Jason Santos in 2009, according to longislandxctf.com. The victory qualified Steinbrecher for the New York State Championships, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero.
"This is the biggest race I've ever won," Steinbrecher said. "To be able to go to the state meet makes it that much better."
Entering the last lap, Steinbrecher thought that his dreams of going upstate might quickly become a painful memory. He almost fell over one of the hurdles and needed to regroup quickly to save his season.
"My knees just undid and I had to regain my stride," he said. "I was hoping they wouldn't fail me in the last 200 meters."
They didn't. Steinbrecher strode to victory with a state-bound smile plastered across his face.
Among the many Suffolk stars joining Steinbrecher in Cicero will be Bay Shore's Cordell Nix. Nix won the pentathlon, scoring 3,384 points. Nix won the 110 hurdles in 15.81 seconds, the high jump, clearing 6 feet, 4 inches, and the long jump in 20-9. He finished second in the shot put and 10th in the 1,500.
Nix attributed his high jump victory to a change in strategy implemented by the Bay Shore coaching staff this week.
"I went further from the mat before I turned in," Nix said. "That helped me a lot."
Other winners included: Huntington's Y'Majesty Allen, in the 400 in 49.28 seconds and Northport's Mike Brannigan in the 800 in 1:55.45 and the 1,600 in 4:12.86. Brannigan, along with Justin Leopold, Jack and Tim McGowan, won the 4 x 800 relay in 7:49.16. The time broke Bellport's meet record of 7:50.16, set in 2012. Smithtown West's Ben Bonhurst won the discus, throwing 188-5, and the shot put in 64-10 1/2.