This just may have been a case of Tyreek Parker being too good for his own good.
Trying to improve what could be regarded as the weakest phase of his strongest winter track event, the 55-meter hurdles, Parker had been working at his starts and making progress. And then came a stunning development Sunday in the Section XI League I Championships. Almost immediately after the gun went off for the final, the race was halted and Parker was out. The Riverhead High School senior, the favorite to win, was disqualified for a false start.
Parker wore a sickened look on his face before turning around and holding his hands to his head as he walked off the track and headed slowly toward a wall at Suffolk County Community College’s Suffolk Federal Arena in Brentwood. He leaned against the wall with both hands and his head down for a short while, knowing that his chance for a league championship in the event had just dissipated.
Video later showed that Parker actually may not have left the starting block early, according to Riverhead coach Sal Loverde.
“That’s the first time he’s ever been DQ’d for a false start in the hurdles, and if you looked at the film, it appeared that he did not leave early,” Loverde said. “It was really, actually a very quick start. The official kind of feels bad [about] this. He thinks he might have mistakenly made that mistake, but it happens. What I’m proud of is how [Parker] responded to it. He didn’t complain. He was upset, tears in his eyes, which means that he has a concern and it means something to him, so we’re happy for that.”
Last season, Parker’s first in indoor track, he came in fifth in the 55 hurdles in 8.80.
What was Parker’s reaction to the false-start call?
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “For me doing track, that is my first ever DQ and it was a race that I should have won.”
Parker said he originally felt as if he had a “clean start … but watching the video, I did not DQ.”
As it was, William Floyd senior Michael Muir ended up as the league champion in 7.94 seconds. Parker clocked the fastest time in the preliminaries, 7.81, which was only 4/100ths of a second off his personal record.
Loverde said, “The thing that’s ironic about it is we had been working diligently on his start because it’s one of the weakest parts of his event, and he’s been completely to the point where he was right on that gun, and unfortunately it takes a league championship title in the 55 hurdles away from him.”
Shortly after the event, Loverde tried to console Parker and encourage him to be ready for the 4×200-meter relay he anchored later in the meet.
Loverde said: “You just say to him, ‘It happens. It happens to professionals. It happens to collegiate athletes. It happens to high school athletes. It’s unfortunate, but it happens, and there’s really nothing you can do. You can’t go back and change it. So, you need to be able to put it behind you and move forward.’ ”
And that is what Parker did.
Earlier in the meet, Parker showed his speed, finishing fifth in the 55 meters in 6.77 seconds. That was only 3/100ths of a second off his best time. Sachem East senior Anthony Urbancik won in 6.62.
“All these kids are talented, man,” marveled Parker.
“And the funny thing about that [race] is he complained about the gun being quick,” Loverde said. “He said, ‘He hit the gun, Coach. He didn’t give me a chance even to get set.’ ”
Parker joined Dennis Lowe, Quintel Mason and Robert Galliano in turning in the 4×200 relay team’s best time of the season: 1:39.06. They came in seventh place.
Another Riverheader, junior Mike Burns, was fifth in the 1,600 in 4:49.88.
Parker seemed in good spirits when his day was done.
“The season so far has been a great adventure so far, especially it being my last season,” he said. “I got better times than I did my past two years.”
Loverde said Parker has a chance to qualify for the state meet in the 55 hurdles. The coach said, “He’s a great kid and I’m looking forward to a great close to the season in a large school meet with him and I like the way he picked himself up after that and dusted himself off and he’s ready to go.”
Wehr’s a high jump champion
Shoreham-Wading River junior Blake Wehr cleared 6-6 to take first place in the League IV Championships Friday night in Brentwood. SWR also received second-place showings by senior Adam Zelin in the 3,200 (10:02.60), senior Dylan Jung in the long jump (21-5 1/4) and its 4×200 relay team (1:39.49). Junior Tyler Friedlander, sophomore James Washburn, junior Tyler Hawks and Jung ran for the relay team. Washburn was also fourth in the 300 in 38.63. Hauppauge won the team title with 105 points. SWR was fourth with 41.