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Westhampton’s Sarena Choi a triple winner at Small School championships

Westhampton's Sarena Choi competes in the long jump

Westhampton's Sarena Choi competes in the long jump during the Suffolk girls small school championships at Suffolk County Community College on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

It was late in the day Sunday when Suffolk finally found its first individual triple. For two days and nearly 14 hours, athletes, coaches and spectators filled into Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood for the county’s annual weekend-long indoor championship-crowning bonanza.

And after all that, it took until the final field event of the final meet for Westhampton’s Sarena Choi to rise above the rest as the only athlete in the county, boy or girl, to win three individual county championships. Choi won the 55 meters in 7.25 seconds, the triple jump with a 39-foot, 7 1⁄2-inch effort, and the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 91⁄2 inches at the Small School girls track championships.

Choi’s day began with the 55, the perfect event to get her legs moving and, by her own admission, victory came by surprise.

“I was really happy during the prelims, because I [had a personal record] with a 7.37,” Choi said. “I ran next to a really great runner, Jackie Ginty of East Islip, in the finals, and I think she really pushed me to [another] PR.”

A final burst of energy gave Choi the advantage over Ginty, who finished second in 7.26.

“I could kind of see her out of the corner of my eye,” Choi said. “She was right there with me. It was just that little push, thinking ‘we’re neck and neck. I need to get that one millimeter in front.’ ”

Shoreham-Wading River, led by two individual victories from Katherine Lee, won the team championship with 69 points. Westhampton was second with 59. Lee won the 3,000 in 10:31.45 and the 600 in 1:34.26.

In the 600, Lee fought off West Babylon’s Paige Keefer, who moved even with the Shoreham distance star with 70 meters to go. But, Lee was able to muster enough strength to push toward victory in the final 40.

“[Keefer] really pushed me on the last lap to accelerate,” she said. “I have a lot of stamina from my distance events, that helped carry me through the last lap. That was really the only reason I was able to push away.”

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