GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Ryan Udvadia looked as if was running on air as he took first place in the open 1,600 meters in 4 minutes 20.98 seconds.
SUFFOLK TRACK OFFICIALS HOLIDAY CLASSIC
One has to wonder just where Ryan Udvadia gets all that energy.
Less than 48 hours after running and winning three individual events (the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters) and anchoring a winning 4×800-meter relay team in a dual-meet win over Mount Sinai, the Shoreham-Wading River junior was back on the track again on Saturday.
In only Shoreham-Wading River’s fourth meet this season and first invitational, Udvadia made a strong case for himself as arguably the best long-distance runner in Suffolk County. He did that with his victory in the open 1,600 against some tough competition in the Suffolk Track Officials Holiday Classic at Mount Sinai High School.
It wasn’t the first-place finish that was so impressive as the time: 4 minutes 20.98 seconds. That is only a few seconds off Udvadia’s best time. Coming so relatively early in the season, before the weather has truly warmed up, was impressive.
“I was a little nervous about the mile because it was pretty stacked, great competition,” he said, “but I knew I had the race when there was like a half-mile to go and I realized how slow it was in the beginning, and how much energy I actually had left.”
Udvadia took the lead briefly going into the last lap, lost it, but then surged forward with 200 meters to go. He ended up winning by a fair margin over the next two finishers, Tom Meehan of Eastport/South Manor (4:23.32) and Tim McGowan of Northport (4:23.92).
“Nobody runs 4:20 this early,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Bob Szymanski said. “I didn’t want him to run that fast … but he also wants to establish himself.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Udvadia’s day was not done. He had an open 800 final to run after that.
Szymanski, concerned about his star runner’s health, warned him beforehand not to do anything “stupid.”
Udvadia almost hurt himself before the 800 race, trotting into a hurdle while talking to someone and warming up at the same time. He took a fall, Szymanski said, but was O.K.
During the first half of the race, Udvadia had fallen back to about the final one-third of the field. Some may have wondered if Udvadia’s legs were giving out on him. Szymanski was watching the race from the press box when someone asked him, “What happened to your man, Udvadia?” The coach replied, “It’s not over yet.”
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck high jumper Darius Brew missed this attempt, his first at 5 feet 7 inches, but went on to clear a personal-record 6-0 and tie for fourth place.
True enough. Playing track and field’s version of opossum, Udvadia then made his move. It was all part of the plan. Passing about a dozen runners in front of him, and making it look ridiculously easy in the process, Udvadia went on to win the heat in 1:58.61, his fastest 800 time ever. It stood for fourth place.
Udvadia said he even surprised himself.
“Usually in the beginning [of a race] I just sit [back] on them, and when I feel like I can do it, I’ll go for the kick, and that’s what I did for the last lap,” he said.
Is that kick always there?
“Ninety percent of the time,” he said, smiling.
Szymanski said Udvadia reminds him of Bobby Andrews, one of the greatest runners the Wildcats have ever produced.
A driven athlete who doesn’t like second-best, Udvadia does research about his competition and trains. Oh boy, does he train, so much so that Szymanski said he needs to rein him in sometimes for fear of overtraining and injury.
After the 800, his sixth competitive race in three days, Udvadia conceded he was glad his running day was over.
“Now I’m tired,” he said. “I don’t want to run any more.”
Like Udvadia, Isreal Squires competed in four events for Shoreham-Wading River on Thursday. Squires said he felt soreness in his legs, and because of that he didn’t feel good about his chances of winning on Saturday.
He was wrong — twice.
Squires turned in a personal-best distance of 21 feet 3 3/4 inches, good enough for first place in the open long jump. He also flew to the finish line in 51.89 seconds to win the sophomore 400 final.
What was his motivation?
The winners of open events were presented with specially designed clocks bearing the meet logo.
“I just wanted to get the clock, really,” Isreal said. “It looks pretty cool in the box.”
Shoreham-Wading River senior Kyle Fleming was seventh in the open discus with a throw of 123-6. A teammate, junior Keith Steinbrecher, won the 2,000-meter steeplechase novice race in 6:43.10.
Mattituck’s 5-foot-8 freshman, Darius Brew, set a personal record, clearing 6-0 to finish in a tie for fourth place in the high jump with North Babylon senior Kamar Marston-Mills. It didn’t hurt that Brew had a little luck on his side.
“I was very surprised because I went over and I kind of hit the bar and it moved, but I didn’t hit it enough to knock it over, so I got lucky, I guess,” he said.
In addition, Brew also took sixth place in the frosh-soph long jump, covering 18-6 3/4.
Mattituck coach Pete Hansen said, “He’s got a lot of talent.”
Brew acknowledged that 6-0 is a magical number for high school high jumpers. It means instant credibility.
“I wanted to achieve 6 feet, and I did it,” he said. “That number [means] you’re good and you have a chance to win.”
Another Mattituck freshman, Jack Dufton, didn’t do badly for himself, either. Dufton set personal records in the freshman 800 (13th place in 2:18.62) and the freshman 1,600 (21st in 5:04.41).
“There’s definitely a lot more competition here, so you’re running harder just because you play to the level of your competition,” Dufton said. “There’s a lot of schools here, a lot of good kids. It’s tough. I’m usually looking at the clock in that last 100 meters, just chasing the clock.”
Dufton said that helps him run faster. “That,” he said, “and Hansen screaming at you.”