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Whitman’s Shelbi Wuss finishes fourth in 5,000m debut

Walt Whitman's Shelbi Wuss races during the boys

Walt Whitman's Shelbi Wuss races during the boys and girls New Balance Nationals Indoor track regionals on Friday, March 10, 2017, at Armory Track & Field Center in New York City. Credit: Corey Sipkin

As much as the Armory’s New Balance Nationals provides a weekend filled with elite talent and top performances, Friday also gave the chance for some of Long Island’s best runners to explore new scenarios in Manhattan.

Whitman’s Shelbi Wuss took that opportunity by running an indoor 5,000-meter race for the first time and pulling into a fourth-place spot (18:14.92) in the championship’s second heat. The senior is heading to American University in the fall and wanted a taste of the grueling event before doing it again in college.

“I think at the end I realized that I had fourth place and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Wuss said.

There’s a lot of time to think during an indoor 5,000 meters. Twenty-five laps provide space for movement and strategy. Wuss started at the back of the field and worked her way up, passing the main pack and trading places with Danielle Marcone of Bethel, Connecticut, who took fifth in 18:18.95.

“I tried to go blank a little bit, because otherwise you’re thinking, ‘I have 20 laps left, I have 15 laps left,’ ” Wuss said. “You get more in your head and it gets more difficult to run. I find that I run best when I just go out and run and occasionally look.”

The race capped Wuss’ winter season, which included a second-place finish at the Suffolk state qualifiers’ 3,000 meters. And after 25 laps, the finale couldn’t have come at a better time.

Smithtown West’s Michael Grabowski experienced some endless laps in the boys 5,000 championship’s second heat, where he finished sixth (15:39.48). Although the senior didn’t run as fast as he would’ve liked, it still provided an opportunity to prepare for Sunday’s two-mile championship, a distance he’s excelled at this season.

“I don’t think I was ready for that many laps,” Grabowski said. “The air starts getting to you pretty quickly.”

Grabowski ran the two-mile in 9:27.77 at the Dartmouth Relays in January for what was then the No. 1 time in the U.S. He took third at the state championships in 9:16.29.

St. Anthony’s Hunter Vierling, Matthew Payamps, Michael Barbaro-Barnett and Mason Gatewood won the 4 x 800 Emerging Elite race in 7:58.67. Holy Trinity’s Tyler Dingle notched a 22.47 in the Emerging Elite 200, his first time running the distance indoors.

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