There are few things in high school sports as action-packed as a track meet. As runners stride around the outer edges at blistering paces, throwers and jumpers are constantly trying to best one another inside the oval.
It’s a well-organized three-ring circus – and, Sunday, Mount Sinai’s Kenneth Wei was the ring master. Wei won three events at the Suffolk Small School track and field championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. The MIT-bound senior won the 55 meter hurdles (7.47 seconds), the triple jump (47 feet, 8 ½ inches), and the long jump (25-0).
“In the beginning, I was a bit frazzled because I was going from hurdles to triple jump over and over again,” Wei said. “It took a while to get things back into a rhythm…I keep a thought in my head saying ‘engage all the time.’ My main goal was to win a county championship and if, at any point, I lose focus, I could risk my team winning.”
Wei’s long jump distance is the best in the country, according to milesplit.com, and breaks his own Suffolk County indoor record of 24 feet, set earlier this season, according to suffolkxctf.com.
“I knew at some point I was going to PR, it was just by how much and when,” Wei said. “I went out for a test run and said ‘today’s a good day.’ On the last jump, it was go broke or go home.”
What made the long jump mark that much more impressive was that it came in his final event of the meet. After running back and forth between the hurdles and the triple jump, Wei was able to muster enough energy to pull out the nation’s best jump.
Not bad for tired legs.
“The fatigue starts to set in, but on the last jump the adrenaline was pumping and I had to get (the jump) down,” Wei said.
Ken’s younger brother, Justin, was right there with him. Justin placed second in the 55-hurdles (7.90), third in the triple jump (43-4), and fourth in the long jump (20-5.5)
Mount Sinai won the team championship with 82 points, their first indoor team county title since the late-1990’s.
Wei’s teammate, Ryan Wilson, won the 600 in one minute, 26.88 seconds. Wilson was passed right before the final lap, but was able to regain the lead on the final straightaway.
“I was a little nervous,” Wilson said. “Then, I found an extra gear and kicked it in from there.”
Elsewhere, East Hampton’s Ryan Fowkes won the 1,000 in 2:34.75. Fowkes sat on the shoulder of West Babylon’s Jay Santana as the race went out, finally passing him right before the final lap and rolling to the win. Santana was second in 2:37.49.
“That was my plan,” Fowkes said. “I really wanted to run under 2:35, because that’s the state qualifying standard. My plan was to just go out with (Santana) because I know he’s a great runner and he’d set a good pace.”
Now that Fowkes has the state standard, he only has to place third at the Suffolk State Qualifier, scheduled for Feb. 11, to qualify for March’s state championships.
“There’s a lot less pressure going into the state qualifying meet,” Fowkes said.