Girls Track and Field: Wildcats win two national relay titles

Paul Koretzki isn’t afraid to make a bold statement about the long-distance runners on his Shoreham-Wading River High School girls track and field team. Without hesitation, the coach called the five runners in question “the greatest distance team in the history of Suffolk County, maybe in the state of New York.”

A bold comment like that requires bold supporting evidence. Here it is: two national champion relay teams and five All-Americans — junior Katherine Lee and seniors Payton Capes-Davis, Amanda Dwyer, Aly Hayes and Maria Smith.

That is what the SWR girls came away with from the New Balance Outdoor Nationals that were run Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina. Koretzki, whose team also took a pair of individual second-place finishes, called it the greatest showing ever by SWR girls in a national meet.

The SWR girls, competing under the name Wildcats, won the 4×800-meter relay on Saturday evening, breaking their own school record in the process. Dwyer led off the relay for the team, which was seeded seventh, by running her fastest split ever, 2 minutes, 15.07 seconds.

“Amanda Dwyer put us right in the race and the other kids said, ‘Jesus, now we have to run,’ ” said Koretzki.

Dwyer was a half-step behind in second place when she handed off to Hays, who along with Capes-Davis kept the Wildcats within five yards of the lead until it was Lee’s turn to take the baton. Lee shot in front with 500 meters to go, clocking a 2:04.56 split as the Wildcats won in 8:51.43. That crushed the school record this same foursome set this year at the Penn Relays, where they were timed in 9:07, said Koretzki.

“How did that happen?” Koretzki said. “That was their quote.”

Ann Arbor Youth was second in 8:54.45.

Then, Sunday morning, the Wildcats finished first in the 4×1 mile relay by more than a hundred yards. Hays, Capes-Davis, Smith and Lee were clocked in 20:00.59, the fourth-fastest time ever by a scholastic relay team in the United States, according to Koretzki. Hays was in second for a while before taking the lead by about 2/10ths of a second. Then Capes-Davis opened up a 20-yard lead, Smith pushed it to 50 yards and then Lee “put the hammer down,” said Koretzki, running her leg in 4:48.65.

The second-place team, Legacy, was timed in 20:29.75.

Despite all of that, the Wildcats were a bit disappointed. “They wanted the national record,” said Koretzki, referring to the 19:56.75 that Suffern ran in 2006.

Capes-Davis was second in the 2,000-meter steeplechase Saturday. She finished second to Alexandra Harris of North Rockland, the same order the two finished in the recent New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships. Harris won in 6:45.32 Saturday and Capes-Davis posted 6:50.30.

In the Emerging Elite 1-Mile on Friday, Hays set a personal record of 4:51.28, good enough for second place. She was edged out by Rachel Sessa of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, who won by 2/100ths of a second. Hays’ previous best time was 5:00.

From this meet alone, Capes-Davis is a three-time All-American. Hays and Lee are two-time All-Americans while both Dwyer and Smith also earned All-American status.

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