A stomach bug kept Hewlett's Windell Blake off the track Tuesday, the first day of the Nassau Class II-A boys track championships. When Wednesday rolled around, he awoke with a simple battle cry: "Nothing will keep me down today."
Blake turned the Tuesday frustration into a Wednesday win. His 51.28-second victory in the 400 meters helped Hewlett score 111 points and clinch its second straight spring county title.
"The race was fluid for me," Blake said. "I got out really well in the beginning and finished strong. The key to finishing is not to think about any physical pain, drive through it, and just go for it."
Because of the residual effects of the stomach bug, Blake wasn't quite as strong as he is normally. But that's where the mental part kicked in.
"I just think about my team and my family," he said. "I know they want me to do my best, so I just go for it."
Hewlett's Kevin Dehaney won the triple jump, flying 45 feet, 53/4 inches. "My third jump was 43 feet, 9 inches, which was an inch less than my personal best," Dehaney said. "I already knew I had won, but I wanted more. I wanted to break my personal record, and I did."
Dehaney credits his win with moving to a 40-foot board midway through his jumps. This allows for a little more distance into the pit.
"Holding out my second phase was huge," Mensah said. "Ordinarily, my second phase is my weakest. Today was my first time competing off a 40 board. Jumping off of that allows you to stretch out your phases a lot more. When I jumped, I made sure I held my second phase as long as I possibly could. That put me in a great position for my third phase."
Mensah, who had never won an individual county title before, jumped 42-41/2 in route to victory.
"This year, I decided to put everything into it," Mensah said. "I feel like all my teammates have gotten all-county at some point in time. Being my final county meet in high school, I felt like it was now or never. It was definitely gratifying."
Mensah's teammate, Demesvar Destin, finished second, jumping 42-11/2. With Stephen Jean-Charles' sixth-place finish, Valley Stream North amassed 19 points from the event.
"Coming into the meet, we knew that we were going to come in first and second, it was just a matter of who would be where," Destin said. "It was just about having fun and doing our thing."
Syosset and Baldwin split the Class III-A title. Baldwin's 4 x 400 team, composed of Shaquille Spradley, Budd Brown, Pascal Bastien and Treyvon Mask, ran 3:20.04, second to Elmont, the state's top 4 x 400 team. Syosset's 4 x 800 team, composed of Alex Bertrand, Simon Nwana, Ross Knaster and Jake Schlessingerm, won in 8:06.73.