When it comes to long-distance running, Lexi Smith is less a starter and more of a finisher. The Shoreham-Wading River High School senior is built for endurance, not sprinting. The longer the distance, the better.
So, when Smith found herself way back early in the 3,000-meter race in the Section XI large school team championships Saturday, perhaps there wasn’t cause for immediate concern. But when Smith was still running behind the sixth-place runner for 600 meters through the middle of the race, coach Paul Koretzki became alarmed.
“She was way back,” he said. “I thought she was bagging it.”
Koretzki yelled for Smith to make her move. She apparently received the message.
Smith then set about making up a lot of ground over the final 400 meters to finish fourth in 10 minutes, 43.00 seconds. She followed Mount Sinai’s Sarah Connelly (10:19.15), Sayville’s Jenna Newman (10:27.49) and West Babylon’s Josephine Critchi (10:33.48).
“I felt really good,” Smith said after the race at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. “I just went for it, and it really felt good. I was hoping for a [personal record]. It’s my last 3K of the season, but I’m happy with this time.”
Smith’s personal record, or pr, was set in the recent League IV Championships when she took second place in 10:34.74.
This has been something of a breakthrough season for Smith. She broke 11 minutes twice in the 3,000 and posted a sub-5:00 time in the 1,500 for the first time.
“She’s gotten a lot out of herself,” Koretzki said. “I think there’s been improvement. It’s been successful, really.”
To illustrate that point, Koretzki pointed out how Smith has dropped her pr in the 3,000 from 11:12 to 10:34 and sliced her best time in the 1,500 from 5:08 to 4:56.
Smith said she enjoys the competition of the sectional meet. “The bigger ones are a lot more pressure,” she said, “but I like it and I like to push it.”
SWR sophomore Torre Parrinello evidently liked the pressure, too. She came in fourth in the 1,500-meter race walk in 7:52.51.
Coming out of the second of three flights, SWR senior Francesca Lilly tripled jumped a season-best 33 feet, 10 inches to nab fifth place. Rocky Point’s Alexandra Kelly was first at 36-11.
Lilly said, “I think it was a successful day.”
Notes. SWR junior Nicole Garcia was sixth in the 1,000 in 3:08.92. Garcia also ran on the SWR 4×800 relay team along with Smith, Danielle Ohrtman and Lilly; they were seventh in 10:21.26. SWR senior Katlynn McGivney was 11th in the high jump at 4-6.
Mount Sinai won the team title with 79 points. SWR was 14th among 23 teams with 11 points.
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River senior Lexi Smith made up enough ground in the 3,000 meters to finish fourth in 10 minutes, 43.00 seconds. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)