BRENTWOOD — Olivia Schumann said she was nervous, had only half an egg and half a bottle of water for breakfast, and didn’t feel ready to run. Her expectations were minimal, but that may have only made her ultimate reaction more intense.
After completing her run in the 300-meter dash final on Saturday, Schumann saw the confirmation of her third-place finish posted on the scoreboard. “I jumped and screamed,” said the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School senior.
In the Suffolk County individual championships/state qualifier, third place is almost as good as first place. That is because the top three finishers in the meet were assured of a place in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships that are scheduled for March 5 at Cornell University in Ithaca.
By taking third in 43.12 seconds at Suffolk County Community College West, Schumann earned a place on the county’s intersectional relay team, which will compete in the state meet.
“Olivia had like a mini-breakthrough a couple of weeks ago, and that showed her that she might have a shot to go to the state meet,” McGann-Mercy’s first-year coach, Gregg Cantwell, said. “Now she will get to go upstate.”
It will be Schumann’s first appearance in the state meet.
Schumann turned in a time of 44.21 earlier in the day to bring her third in her qualifying heat. Then in the final, she posted her personal-best time.
“It was good,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to do as well as I did. [With] the faster girls, obviously, you don’t want to come in last, so you push yourself more to keep up with them.”
Schumann said her focus was on finishing third, which was her seeding. In fact, the top three places finished in line with the seedings, with Longwood senior Olivia Hallstein winning in 41.42 and Lindenhurst sophomore Alyssa Barthelmes taking second in 42.96.
Schumann said that as she approached the finish line, the only person she saw was teammate Lauren Woodhull. “She was pointing at the line and screaming,” said Schumann.
Woodhull and her teammates on McGann-Mercy’s 4×400-meter relay team had something to shout about themselves. Seeded seventh, the foursome of Tori Tremble, Woodhull, Kayleigh Macchirole and Delina Auciello finished fourth in 4:22.82.
“We exceeded our expectations with that,” Cantwell said. “Today couldn’t have gone a whole lot better. I thought a perfect day coming in would be to get Olivia to the state meet and make the 4×400 final. We not only made the 4×400 final, but we ended up getting fourth.”
Auciello, a freshman, was also 12th in the 600 in 1:54.10.
Two Riverhead juniors weren’t happy with how they fared on Saturday.
Julianna Marcucci finished fifth in the 1,500 in 5:02.69. “I’m definitely disappointed in how I ran,” said Marcucci, who has completed that distance in as fast as 4:54. “I didn’t run anywhere near my best.”
Fatima Brown was unhappy with her performance in the long jump. A leap of 16 feet 1 1/4 inches brought her seventh place. “I felt good and I thought I was doing good, and when the second flight started and they started jumping further than me, I just got so discouraged,” she said. “I felt like I could have done better.”
Riverhead’s 4×400 relay team of Christy Brewer, Wynisha Hatcher, Rachel Conti and Carolyn Carrera didn’t make it to the final, but duplicated their seeding time of 4:31.77. “Exactly,” Riverhead Coach Becky Winkel said. “Isn’t that amazing?”
Athletes and coaches noted that this meet is unlike most others, both in terms of the high quality of competition and in how much is at stake.
“Finishing high here is a really big deal,” Cantwell said. “There are only 12 people in each race. The best of the best are here.”