All Tyler Keys could do was wait. And hope.
After winning the first heat of the 1,000-meter race Sunday afternoon at the Section XI State Qualifier, Keys watched from the side as the second wave of runners took off in the faster heat. Keys had just missed qualifying for the faster heat by one spot, putting him in a difficult position of racing solely against the clock.
It turned out to be a blessing. Without the worry of getting blocked in, the 6-foot-4 Shoreham-Wading River senior ran a smooth race in 2 minutes 35.22 seconds, which held up for third place after the second heat. Keys qualified for his first state championship in track and was one of four locals who punched their ticket to Ithaca March 3.
Riverhead senior Kevin Williams jumped 44 feet 1 1/4 inches in the triple jump to finish third. Williams fouled by a tiny margin on one jump that would have put him over 45. Kevin Chery of Connetquot won the event with a top mark of 45-08 1/2.
Shoreham-Wading River senior Shannon McDonnell qualified in the 600 by placing second in 1:38.31. She also ran on the 4 x 400 relay team that finished fourth. McDonnell ran the anchor and took the baton with her team in last place. She surged ahead of Longwood and Sachem East to lock up fourth place for the Wildcats, who were the county champions at the small school championship.
This will be the second straight year McDonnell competes at the state championship in the 600.
McGann-Mercy senior Sasa Vann qualified for her first trip to states during the indoor season by placing third in the 300 in 42.69. She’ll qualify for the intersectional medley relay. Last year Section XI won the event with Olivia Schumann of Mercy on the team.
10. Emily Venesina, Mercy, 3:14.85
11. Rachel Conti, Riverhead, 3:31.80
2. Shannon McDonnell, SWR, 1:38.31
7. Laura Lee, SWR, 1:44.50
9. Delina Auciello, Mercy, 1:46.08
3. Sasa Vann, Mercy, 42.69
5. Meg Tuthill, Mercy, 5:02.93
Girls, Shot Put
11. Madison Blom, Riverhead, 32-02 1/2
Girls 4 x 400 Relay
4. SWR, 4:19.07
4. John Lee, SWR, 9:36.83
7. Ryan Udvadia, SWR, 9:51.51
3. Tyler Keys, SWR, 2:35.22
5. Jeff Pittman, Riverhead, 38.15
11. Anthony Galvan, Riverhead, 4:45.00
Boys, Long Jump
10. Jeff Pittman, Riverhead, 19-07 1/4