The five-minute mark remains teasingly close, yet beyond Lexi Smith’s reach. Perhaps not for much longer, though.
Smith has never broken the five-minute mark in the 1,500 meters, but she has come close on several occasions. Twice the Shoreham-Wading River High School junior ran 5:01 and once, as a freshman, she ran 5:05.
But all of those runs were outdoors, which Smith finds easier to run than indoors, especially breathing in the dry air on the unbanked 200-meter track at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.
That is where Smith set a personal indoor record Sunday, winning the 1,500 in 5 minutes, 10.92 seconds in a crossover meet. Despite blowing away the field (her nearest challenger, Eastport-South Manor junior Karlie Hill, finished in 5:28.48), Smith still crushed her previous best indoor time by eight seconds.
Upon crossing the finish line, Smith said, “I was just like, ‘Yes!’ ”
If Smith felt as if she was somewhat lost in the shuffle last season amid Shoreham’s high-level runners like Katherine Lee, Payton Capes-Davis, Amanda Dwyer, Alexandra Hays and Maria Smith (no relation), that would have been understandable. But Lexi Smith has proven to be a talented runner in her own right, and of those aforementioned runners, only Lee and herself remain on the team while the others have all moved on to college track and field. (Lee, recently named Newsday’s Runner of the Year for cross country for the second year in a row and the third time in four years, was given the meet off as she recovers from a long fall season).
“They definitely inspired me,” Lexi Smith said. “I liked running with them. They definitely pushed me.”
Lexi Smith surely has the drive to succeed. That was seen the way she pushed herself hard to the finish line Sunday without being pressed from behind.
“I get very anxious because I always think that I’m going to get caught,” she said. “So I just keep going harder and harder.”
Asked what makes Smith so good, coach Paul Koretzki answered: “Her work ethic. It’s very good in practice. Sometimes she gets a little carried away. When she gets in a [close] race, her time will go down even better.”
Smith is coming off a successful cross-country season in which she received All-State honorable mention. “I took three weeks off after cross country, so I’m just starting to get back into it,” she said after her first 1,500 race of the season.
Earlier in the season, Lexi Smith clocked a personal-best time of 3:17 in the 1,000, bringing her third place at a crossover meet.
“My personality is very determined,” she said. “I always have to do my best.”
Shoreham received another winning performance Sunday from triple jumper Francesca Lilly. The junior covered a distance of 33 feet, 10 inches. Teammate Danielle Ohrtman (29-8 1/2) was fifth, behind Lilly, Northport’s Ashley Curcio (30-7), William Floyd’s Kayla Hawkins (30-6) and Mattituck’s Amber Rochon (30-4).
In the 600, Shoreham sophomore Nicole Garcia (1:48.00) finished second to Middle Country junior Kaitlynn Drennan (1:47.58). Two other Wildcats — Ohrtman (fourth in 1:53.00) and Isadora Petretti (fifth in 1:54.16) — finished in the top five.
Shoreham’s Katlynn McGivney tied for fifth in the high jump at 4-3. Teammate India McKay was sixth in the 1,000 in 3:40.05.
With all those numbers flying around, though, the number that remains embedded in Lexi Smith’s mind is five — as in five minutes.
She said, “I’m going for it this year.”
Mercy’s Kneski First in 600. Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Olivia Kneski took first in the 600 meters Sunday in a crossover meet at SCCC. The senior’s time was 1:45.07.
Mercy sophomore Grace Hayes was second in the 3,000 in 12:10.66.