SECTION XI STATE QUALIFIER
Katherine Lee had plenty of reason to be happy after winning the 3,000-meter race Sunday. The Shoreham-Wading River freshman’s victory clinched her a spot in the state championship.
But it was after the 1,500 — a race that she didn’t win — that brought out the biggest smiles.
“I was so happy,” Lee said. “After the 3,000 I was of course happy that I made states, but I think I was even happier after the 15.”
That was because teammate Kaitlyn Ohrtman, a junior, finished second to also earn a trip to states. They were two of three local runners to qualify for the state championship at Sunday’s Section XI Championships at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood.
Lee ran the 3,000 in 10 minutes 11.12 seconds to narrowly defeat Valerie Romero of Sachem East, who crossed in 10:11.6. After winning that race and clinching a spot at states, the pressure was off for Lee going into the 1,500 later in the meet. Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki said he encouraged Lee to just run the 3,000 and not worry about the 1,500, but Lee wanted the challenge.
While she didn’t qualify in both, she did get to see Ohrtman turn in one of her best races of the season. Ohrtman ran 4:48.2 in the 1,500 to finish second. She made a late surge to move into second and perhaps could have caught Alexandra DeCicco for first had she made a move a little earlier.
Lee finished fifth in 4:57.38, nearly 10 seconds off her top time of the year.
By winning the 3,000, she became the first Shoreham girl to win an event at the indoor championship since 2011.
In the 1,000, McGann-Mercy junior Meg Tuthill finished third to qualify for the state meet. Last year, as a fourth-place finisher, Tuthill earned a spot on the sectional relay team that went on to win a state title. This year, her goal was to qualify for an individual event and she accomplished that by running 3:02.07 in one of the more competitive races of the day. Five runners came into the meet already with the qualifying standard.
Tuthill also ran on the 4 x 800 relay team for Mercy that finished seventh in 10:02.23. She ran with the sophomore trio of Kaitlyn Butterfield, Maddie Joinnides and Devyn O’Brien.
Riverhead senior Ra’Shae Smith missed on qualifying in the shot put after a fourth-place finish. Smith had been throwing consistently in the 37-foot range, but her top mark Sunday was 34 feet 4 1/4 inches.
On the boys side, Riverhead senior Jacob Robinson was the only qualifier. He earned a spot on the intersectional relay team by finishing fifth in the 300-dash. He ran 36.27. He would have typically needed a fourth-place finish to qualify for the relay. But the fourth-place finisher in the 300, Sam Chimezie of Half Hollow Hills East, also qualified in the 55-meter hurdles and therefore will not run in the intersectional relay, opening a spot for Robinson.
McGann-Mercy junior Dale Kelly was sixth in the 300 in 36.86.
Riverhead senior Andrew Smith reached the finals of the 55-meter hurdles and placed sixth in 8.07.
Riverhead senior Troy Trent was one of the top shot-putters in the county this year, but he was scratched from the meet due to a scheduling conflict. Riverhead coach Sal Loverde said Trent had an official visit scheduled this weekend for college. As it turned out, the visit got canceled, Loverde said, but after Trent had already been scratched from the meet. Loverde said he tried to get Trent back into the meet, but it was too late.
The qualifiers will have nearly a month to prepare for the state meet, which is March 7 at Cornell University.
Correction: This post originally said no boys had qualified for the state meet. But Jacob Robinson’s fifth-place finish gets him on the intersectional relay because the fourth-place finisher qualified in another individual event.
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(Credit: Robert O’Rourk)