Christopher Duhaney barreled down the final meters to the 400 hurdles finish line at the Nassau AAA championships gasping for air. He only had to hold on for a few more steps to claim a county title.
The Uniondale senior took deep breaths, something that gave him difficulty in the past, and crossed the line in 54.90 seconds to edge out Hicksville’s Nikolas Sgaraglio by .56 at Long Beach on Wednesday. The race was an affirmation of his work off the track to improve breathing and combat asthma.
“I do swimming now for gym and (my gym coach) trained how to help build my lungs, how to breathe and what I do before I run,” Duhaney said. “It’s helped me in my recovery in ways I didn’t even think were possible.”
Duhaney, who also won the 110 hurdles in 15.11, went back and forth with Valley Stream Central’s Justin Mirville, who came in third in 56:08. Duhaney said Sgaraglio came out of nowhere and he knew he’d have to get over the hurdles efficiently to hold him off.
“I started lifting my knees, I heard my teammates screaming ‘don’t stutter’ and if I did I just went as fast as I could — pushed, pushed, pushed,” Duhaney said.
It paid off. He went over the last hurdle and didn’t let up until the end. In the past, he’d have trouble finishing a race as long as this, but that was before he had focused on his lungs.
“I thought I would start to fall apart or stutter, but my body wouldn’t do that so I was trusting it and I just went over the last hurdle as hard as I could,” Duhaney said.
Hempstead’s Niasia Harding surged late to take the 400 hurdles title in 63.11 over Uniondale’s Kristina Cherrington (63.39).
“When I was over the hurdles I said, ‘Now it’s time to run,’ ” Harding said. “When I got closer I realized I could do this. I had it in me.”
She won again in the 400 in 56.70. Cherrington took second in 57.06.
Syosset’s Reilly Siebert won the 1,500 in 4:37.18 with a powerful finish after hanging back during the first three laps. Massapequa’s Taylor Rettig took second in 4:44.94.
Syosset and Uniondale tied for the girls team title with 81 points each, followed by Port Washington with 65.50. Uniondale won the boys side with 96 points. East Meadow had 86 and Port Washington 66.