SECTION XI CHAMPIONSHIPS
Katherine Lee can make running 7 1/2 times around a 400-meter track look easy. At times, the Shoreham-Wading River freshman can appear to have barely broken a sweat after crossing the finish line in her marquee event, the 3,000.
Friday was a different story.
After Lee whipped across the finish line well ahead of her competition in the Section XI Championships, she collapsed onto her knees, fully exhausted. She took a moment, and several deep breaths, before rising and gingerly walking off the track at Port Jefferson High School.
“It was the hardest I’ve ever gone,” Lee said an hour later, her enthusiasm and smile back after some welcome rest.
That effort translated into the fastest 3,000 time in school history, according to coach Paul Koretzki. Lee ran 9 minutes 54.16 seconds in a race she led from start to finish.
It topped the previous best of 10:04, set in 1987, Koretzki said.
The day didn’t start all that well for Lee. She admittedly doesn’t handle the buildup toward a race well.
“This whole day I’ve been a wreck,” she said. “I’ve been nervous. At school, everyone’s like, ‘What’s wrong?’ It was not a good day until I came here and ran.”
A nervous freshman before the race, Lee transforms into a confident veteran when the gun sounds. She charged into the lead right from the beginning, building a comfortable 20-meter lead in the middle of the race and never looking back.
She ran the record time even without a competitor breathing down her back. Taylor McClay, an Eastport-South Manor sophomore, came closest with a respectable finish of 9:59.32.
Lee said running most of the race alone made it easier on her.
“Whenever someone’s right on my shoulder I get a little nervous and I tighten up,” she said. “Today, I came up with a new race plan and I just kind of did it on the spot.”
Lee said her strategy was to count to 10. At 10, she would sprint for a few seconds. Then, count to 10 and repeat.
Lee has been in her share of big races already in her young career. She was the Class B state champion during the fall cross country season. In winter track she was all-state in the 3,000.
Next week’s trip to SUNY Albany will be her third voyage to states this year.
Lee will be joined again by McGann-Mercy junior Meg Tuthill. The Monarchs’ top middle distance runner qualified for states for the third time this year. She’ll run the 800, and depending on Saturday’s results, possibly the 1,500 and 4 x 800 relay.
Tuthill ran a personal record time of 2:13.81 to take second place. As a Division II runner, Tuthill’s place in the state meet was never really in question. Her closest competition came from a teammate, sophomore Kaitlyn Butterfield. She finished ninth in 2:22.27.
For Tuthill, it was the best 800 race she ran since last year’s state qualifier, a race she also finished second in.
Huntington senior Suzie Petryk won Friday’s race in 2:13.37.
Mercy coach Collin Zeffer summed up Tuthill’s race in one word: “Incredible.”
Tuthill used a different word.
“I’m going to say it was fun,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Tuthill was seeded third. Between a quick start and strong finish, Tuthill edged Sachem East junior Alexandra DeCicco, who was seeded first and finished just under three seconds behind Tuthill.
Tuthill will have plenty of teammates joining her at the state meet. The Monarchs qualified their 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams in the preliminaries Friday. While neither team advanced to tomorrow’s finals, they only needed to beat the other Division II schools to qualify for states.
The 4 x 800 team runs tomorrow and the Monarchs could potentially sweep the relays.
Mercy’s 4 x 100 team of Juliana Cintron-Leonardo, Dayna Young, Delaney Macchirole and Adafih Blackburn ran 52.15. The 4 x 400 team featured two of the same girls: Macchirole and Young. They were joined by Olivia Kneski and Maddie Joinnides.
While no boys qualified for states on the first day of the championship, the Riverhead 4 x 100 relay team set itself up well with the top time in the preliminaries. The group ran 43.02 seconds.
They’ll run in the final event on the track Saturday.
In the shot put, senior Troy Trent finished eighth overall with a top mark of 47 feet 4 1/4 inches. He came into the meet seeded third. His top throw in his initial heat wasn’t enough to advance into the finals.
In the pole vault, sophomore Kyle Gevinski cleared 11 feet to finish in a tie for 10th.
The competition continues Saturday at Port Jefferson starting at 2:15 p.m.