ITHACA, N.Y. — Westbury’s Denisha West came a long way from home to try to claim her spot as the best in the state, and when she stepped onto the medal podium at the state indoor track and field championships, there was a familiar face by her side.
West took the top spot in triple jump with a final jump of 38 feet, 3/4 of an inch, edging Sachem North’s Leah Blackall who jumped 37 feet, 10 1/4 inches. Together they made up the only 1-2 duo for Long Island on the girls side of the state championships at Cornell University Saturday.
“I’m very proud to represent my island,” West said. “Long Island.”
West said she came into the meet with an open mind, not pinpointing anybody in particular to worry about. Instead, she focused on what she could control: her jumps.
“Basically anybody was my competitor,” West said. “I really wanted to push hard and push through because all these girls are very talented.”
Early on, a Long Island pairing wasn’t looking likely. Blackall sat in seventh after her first jump (35 feet, 10 1/2 inches). But as the rounds went on, she crept back into contention. Blackall moved up to fifth and took her place in second with her final strong jump. She said she wanted to put a cap on a season that had some struggles.
“I needed to pull it together, so on my last jump I pulled it through,” Blackall said.
West, who jumped 36 feet, 5 inches on her second of six attempts after a foul during the first jump, said her only goal was to win, and she was prepared for anything. That included a challenge from a local opponent who won a state title in the spring.
“I wanted to compete with her, she encouraged me to jump further and push myself to the limit,” West said. “She’s a very strong competitor.”
The two seniors will see each other one more time in the winter when they jump at the more familiar Armory in Manhattan for the national championships next weekend.
When that arrives, there will be two Long Islanders who know all too well what each other is capable of.