And it’s Shoreham-Wading River by a nose!
Make that Wesley Pase’s nose.
Needing to take one of the three relay races in order to secure its first dual-meet win of the season, the SWR boys track and field team did just that Monday, thanks to some gutsy running by Pase.
The first of those relays, the 4×800, was a remarkably close affair between visiting Elwood/John Glenn and SWR. Pase, SWR’s anchorman, trailed for most of his leg but was far from beaten, charging hard down the final straightaway. Glenn’s Matt Liu must have sensed Pase closing in on him.
Then, at the finish line, Pase lunged forward in desperation and fell, bringing SWR a dramatic victory by a split-second.
“I stuck my head across the finish line,” Pase said. “That was really my last-ditch effort to finish before him because I couldn’t keep my stride.”
That last-ditch effort secured what turned into a 78-63 SWR triumph in the Suffolk County League VII meet. Both teams are 1-2.
It was a thrilling 4×800 relay, but also an unusual one because it wasn’t a true 4×800. The second-leg runners for both teams inexplicably handed off to teammates after running only 400 meters and not running a second lap. Both teams clocked 7 minutes, 40 seconds.
Daniel Dacos, Austin Manghan IV and James Dacos (Daniel’s brother) worked the first three legs for SWR. And then it was Pase’s turn. The senior, in his first track season, battled through all 800 of his meters. “I know they put me there [in the anchor position] because they know I run hard and I give it everything I got,” he said.
SWR coach Joe Mordarski said: “I know that he’s just as tough as nails. That competitive spirit that is inside of him was really the difference in those 2/10ths of a second” between first place and second.
Last year as a freshman in his first year in the high jump, Blake Wehr made a bold statement to Mordarski. “He looks at me and says, ‘Coach, I’m going to be an all-star,’ ” recalled Mordarski.
The 6-foot-4 Wehr is well on the way to backing up those words and maintaining SWR’s tradition of fine high jumpers. He cleared 5-8 at the state qualifying meet last year, but grew three inches and has gotten stronger since then. “It helps a lot,” he said.
And how. This season Wehr has cleared a career-best 6-2. Last week in practice he made it over the bar at 6-5.
“I think 6-2 is low for him,” Mordarski said. “I think 6-2 is going to be a thing of the past for him.”
Wehr entered the competition Monday at 5-6, clearing that height as well as 5-8 and 5-10. He skipped 6-0 and made three unsuccessful attempts at 6-2.
“It was alright,” Wehr said. “I mean, I didn’t get the height I was looking for today, but no excuses.”
SWR swept all nine points in the event, with a personal-record 5-8 by Alex Barrett and a season-best 5-6 by Ethan Hunt.
Wehr has a passion for the high jump. “I love it,” he said. “… When you get over the bar, there’s no feeling like it.”
Wehr also ran for the winning 4×400 relay team of James Washburn, Tyler Hawks and Joe Krause. They were timed in 3:50.
Immediately after crossing the finish line with the baton to complete the relay victory, Krause pulled up in pain. Krause, who said he had run 20 miles the day before, complained of a groin injury. Earlier in the meet, Krause finished first in the 800 in 2:14.
In other events: Dylan Jung brought SWR first in both the long jump (20-2 1/4) and 200 (23.4, a personal record). James Dacos pulled ahead on the last lap to win in the 3,200; his time wasn’t available. Adam Zelin completed a SWR sweep in the 1,600, winning in 4:48 and immediately followed by Daniel Dacos (5:03) and Manghan (5:05). SWR’s Ben Carrier turned in a winning pole vault of 5-6, tying his personal record.
After it was all over, Pase was still receiving kudos for his inspiring effort.
He said, “I just pushed till the end and it paid off.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s Adam Zelin, left, and Joe Krause lead the pack during the 1,600-meter race. Zelin won in 4 minutes, 48 seconds. (Credit: Bob Liepa)