Dale Mittleman and the rest of his Syosset teammates didn't see snow days as a break from school. They saw it as an opportunity to get better. While others took the occasional surprise off days as an invitation to sleep late and play video games, Mittleman and company cranked up their training.
"We got workouts done when others couldn't," Mittleman said. "During snow days, we'd be out at Sunken Meadow pounding in miles."
As is so often the case in winter track, the extra bit of effort paid off. Mittleman won the 3,200 meters in 9 minutes, 41.28 seconds at Tuesday night's Nassau state qualifier at St. Anthony's. The victory qualified the senior for the state championship meet, scheduled for March 1 at Cornell.
"The race went out controlled," Mittleman said. "The goal was just to sit on first. With about a mile left, I moved up right on [Garden City's Tim Josephs'] shoulder and sat there for another half a mile. Then, I relied on my kick and brought it in."
As the final lap began, Mittleman stepped across the line, passing Josephs in one move.
"I knew I had to go soon or I wasn't going to be able to break them," he said.
Earlier in the meet, Mittleman's teammate, Eric Sheng, won the shot put with a toss of 48-101/4. Sheng had to battle fatigue, thanks to a late night of homework on Monday and Tuesday's jam-packed class schedule.
"I felt more tired than I was at counties [Saturday night]," Sheng said. "Today was all muscle memory. Everything came together perfectly."
On the girls side, Garden City's Stephanie Gerland won the 3,000 in 10:20.35. Gerland, who usually likes to sit back and kick, tried a new strategy, going out in first and holding on.
"I just wanted to see what it would feel like," Gerland said. "I like being behind because you can see when others make their moves. When you're in the lead, you don't really know what's happening behind you."