Track & Field: Udvadia narrowly misses school record in 1,600

Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia ran a personal best time in the 1,600 Saturday in Syracuse. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)
Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia ran a personal best time in the 1,600 Saturday in Syracuse. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)


The greatest challenge in running two distance events at a meet the caliber of the New York State Championships is always the second event.

About 17 hours after running the 3,200, Shoreham-Wading River senior Ryan Udvadia returned to the track Saturday morning at Cicero-North Syracuse High School for the 1,600, an event jam-packed with talented runners. 

In his final meet representing Shoreham, Udvadia set his sights on breaking the outdoor school record in the 1,600. He came up just short, but still set a personal record and earned a spot on the podium as an All-State winner for the second straight day.

Udvadia ran 4 minutes 13.05 seconds to finish eighth overall in one of the more entertaining races of the day. Udvadia finished fifth among Division I public school runners, sending him onto the podium after yesterday’s fourth-place finish in the 3,200.

After the 1,600, Udvadia said he felt he could have run a 4:10 if he hadn’t run the 3,200.

“He said yesterday’s race took a lot out of him,” Shoreham coach Bob Szymanski said.

The race came down to a photo finish between Luke Gavigan of Tappan Zee and Mike Brannigan of Northport. Gavigan edged Brannigan at the line to finish in 4:07.82, just two-hundredths of a second ahead of Brannigan. The meet record is 4:05.24.

“That was the best race I thought I’ve seen you run,” Szymanski said to Udvadia after the race.

Known as a runner who typically likes to stay back at the start of a race, Udvadia went out hard in the 1,600. It was an unusual move for him, but in a race this tightly contested, there was no room to sit back. He ran an opening split of 1:01.91.

“That was smart,” Udvadia said.

He sat in fourth after two laps and slipped to fifth after three. As the bell rang for the final lap, the front of the pack took off, setting up an all-out sprint between Gavigan and Brannigan for first.

Udvadia still ran his fastest split on the final lap (1:01.63), but he just didn’t have enough left to stay with front of the pack. The top six runners all ran the final lap in under a minute.

Udvadia said with 300 meters to go, he knew he didn’t have it.

“I feel bad for the kid because he did want the school record,” Szymanski said. “But he’s got the school record in the [3,200].”

The 1,600 record is 4:12.83, set by Bobby Andrews in 2009 on the same track in Cicero.

Udvadia has another big weekend ahead of him when he runs at the outdoor nationals next weekend in North Carolina. He said he may run in up to three events.

For now, though, he saw his four-year Shoreham career come to an end. And he’ll leave as one of the top distance runners in school history.

“If I could, I’d go back and do it all over again,” he said.

Senior Keith Steinbrecher ran the 3,000 steeplechase one week after setting a meet record at the state qualifier. After running a superb race last week, Steinbrecher didn’t have as much left in the tank this time around.

He ran 9:52.72, putting him 19th overall and 11th for Division I.

“Whether it was the heat or I don’t know what, maybe I peaked this season a little early last week, but I just didn’t have it today,” Steinbrecher said.

“He looked wiped before it started,” Szymanski said.

The track featured an added twist for Steinbrecher. The water pit was located on the outside of the track rather than on the inside like in every other race where ran the steeplechase. That seemingly minor detail made for different angles of turns along the rest of the course and an extra mental challenge for the runners.

“It’s more different than you would expect,” he said. “You’re getting to the water pit and it’s a steeper turn. You wind up drifting across the water pit a little bit. It gets a little confusing.”

John McCarthy of Corning appeared to have a meet record within his reach as he came down the final straightaway. But he stumbled over the last hurdle right before the finish line and fell to the track. As he regained his stride, Tyler Ranke of Hilton passed him to win the race in 9:11.24. The meet record is 9:07.02.

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