SECTION XI CHAMPIONSHIPS
Jacob Robinson leaned on one knee, his head tilted slightly, his hands held together in prayer. A few feet in front of him, on the grass at Port Jefferson High School, stood the scoreboard that was about to flash the fate of Robinson of his three teammates.
He waited, staring, the seconds feeling like minutes.
The Blue Waves’ 4 x 100 relay team had undoubtedly just completed a fine race at the Section XI Championships. But in a race so short, it’s often impossible to tell the winner with the naked eye.
All eyes were fixated on the scoreboard as the officials determined the final times.
And then it flashed: Riverhead, 42.92 seconds.
Robinson leapt in the air and clapped his hands, a smile etched on his face.
The Blue Waves had punched their ticket to next weekend’s state championship in Albany. And they did it with their fastest time all year.
For as excited as the Blue Waves were to make it to states, it was still a bittersweet moment. Half Hollow Hills West, a perennially strong sprint relay team, edged Riverhead by two-tenths of a second for first place.
It wasn’t the victory Riverhead had hoped for, but the second-place finish and the state qualifying standard time the team had hit a day before in the preliminaries was enough to send the team to next weekend’s state meet at SUNY Albany.
“They’re happy, but they wanted first,” said Riverhead coach Steve Gevinski.
The relay team featured Andrew Smith on the first leg, followed by Robinson, Marcus Reid and Steven Reid as the anchor.
Steven Reid ran a superb final leg to get the Blue Waves into second place.
“What a difference maker he’s been on that team,” Gevinski said. “He’s been ridiculous. He’s really picked these guys up.”
Going into the meet, Gevinski said his goal was to set the relay up to have the best chance to win. To do so, only one runner — Robinson — ran an individual event in addition to the relay.
The fresh legs paid off in the relay. The Blue Waves had posted the fastest time Friday in the preliminaries, giving them hope they could win the finals Saturday.
But Hills West substituted one of its runners, boosting the team with a runner from its 4 x 400 team.
The move helped propel the Colts to a time of 42.72. Central Islip ran 43.0 for third.
Earlier in the meet, Robinson broke his own school record in the 400-dash, cracking the 50-second mark for the first time in his career.
Robinson ran 49.96 to finish in fifth place. It wasn’t enough to get him to the state meet, but he had reached the goal he set out for at the beginning of the season.
“I wanted to be the first kid in my school to break 50,” Robinson said. “I knew I had the record, but I wanted that 49.”
In other individual events, Shoreham-Wading River freshman Katherine Lee won her second event in as many days. Lee surged ahead late in the 1,500 to win in 4:34.94. She won the 3,000 Friday in a school record time.
It’s unclear at this point whether Lee will run the 1,500 at the state meet. She may elect to skip it.
Shoreham junior Kaitlyn Ohrtman finished third in the race, a fraction behind Alexandra DeCicco of Sachem East. The photo finish went to DeCicco in 4:35.50 while Ohrtman was clocked at 4:35.53.
If Lee opts to skip the 1,500, it would open the door for Ohrtman to qualify as the second runner along with DeCicco. Shoreham assistant coach Bob Szymanski said they’ll make a decision by Sunday night.
McGann-Mercy junior Meg Tuthill finished fourth in the race in 4:37.51. As the top Division II finisher, she qualified for her second event after a second-place finish in the 800 Friday.
Mercy’s 4 x 800 relay team finished fourth overall and was tops in Division II. The team ran 9:27.12. All three of Mercy’s girls relay teams qualified for states.
In the 200-meter dash, Mercy junior Dale Kelly narrowly missed qualifying for the state meet. He finished fifth in 22.72, just behind Southampton sophomore Franklin Andre (22.64). They were the only Division II runners in the finals.
In the discus, Riverhead senior Troy Trent finished fifth with a top mark of 146 feet, 5 inches.
In the shot put, Riverhead senior Ra’Shae Smith was sixth (36-6).
In the pentathlon, Riverhead senior Ryan DiResta tallied 3,025 points to finish fifth.