The Long Island Elite Indoor Meet is nothing new to Christina Yakaboski, although the Riverhead High School junior has a better appreciation for it than when she first ran in the showcase track and field event as a freshman.
“Freshman year I didn’t know that this was an honor to be here,” she said.
The honor was accompanied by a nice, shiny medal Saturday when Yakaboski turned in a personal-best time for a fifth-place finish in the 1,500 meters at St. Anthony’s High School. She ran it in 4 minutes, 53.66 seconds, trimming 87/100ths of a second off her previous best time.
“I knew I could do it,” she said.
Yakaboski was certainly pushed by the stiff competition. Mount Sinai junior Sarah Connelly (4:41.66) held off Sacred Heart junior Maggie Maier (4:41.00) for the victory. They were followed by Bay Shore junior Roshni Singh (4:49.18) and South Side sophomore Olivia Duca (4:52.13).
“My time was still respectable and I had girls like 13 seconds ahead of me,” Yakaboski said. “I definitely think of it as a good day, and I was feeling a lot better.”
What helped Yakaboski run faster than she ever had before?
Well, for one thing, she wasn’t ill. Yakaboski said she had not been at full strength in the last couple of meets she ran in, so not being under the weather helped. “I had time to recover,” she said.
Yakaboski didn’t qualify for the state meet that will be held next Saturday at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, but this was still not her final meet of the indoor season. She’s a member of Riverhead’s school-record-setting sprint-medley relay team along with Ava Sumwalt, Kristina Deraveniere and Miasha Pittman. That foursome will run in the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet March 8 at The Armory Track and Field Center in New York City.
Yakaboski clearly enjoyed her run Saturday.
“That was a fun race,” she said. “Sometimes I forget that this is supposed to be fun.”
Riverhead junior Ashli Nicole Bell also came away with medals for her sixth-place showings in the 55- and 60-meter dash events. After receiving a pre-race pep talk from her mother, Kartisha, Bell registered a time of 7.47 seconds in the 55. Brentwood junior Brianna Davis was first in 7.14.
Bell then ran the 60 in 8.25. Davis was first again in 7.78.
“It was very hard,” Bell said of the competition. “It pushed me to go faster, but they’re really fast.”
Bell, in her first track and field season since she was an eighth-grader, didn’t start using blocks for her starts until earlier this season, at the urging of her coaches. She figures she has sliced 4/10ths of a second off her time by using blocks.
Riverhead junior Miasha Pittman ran 7.60 in the 55-meter prelims and didn’t qualify for the final.
Deraveniere fell one place short of a medal, coming in seventh in the 600 in 1:43.95. Valley Stream South senior Deanna Martin was first in 1:35.71.
“It was pretty good,” Deraveniere said afterward. “I’m really happy I got that time … I wish I could have run faster, but it’s OK.”
Photo caption: Riverhead junior Christina Yakaboski picked up a medal with her fifth-place run in the 1,500 meters at the Long Island Elite Indoor Meet Saturday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)