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Girls Winter Track: Deraveniere makes her mark in 600

Kristina Deraveniere remembers as an eighth-grader walking by the Riverhead High School track and field record board every day. The numbers that caught her eye were for the school record in the 600 meters, an indoor event. To this day she can recite by memory the numbers that had stood as Riverhead’s best in the 600 since Lauren Hoblin clocked 1 minute, 41.70 seconds in 2004.

Deraveniere recalled: “I was like, ‘Wow. Wouldn’t that be so cool to get that record?’ ”

Now Deraveniere knows firsthand just how cool it is.

It was at the Section XI Large Schools Championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood Feb. 2 when Deraveniere came tantalizingly close to the school record, missing it be a mere 0.14 seconds.

Deraveniere finally got what she was looking for at the state qualifying meet on the same flat track eight days later. The senior broke the school mark by nearly a full two seconds, setting the new standard at 1:39.98.

“As soon as I finished my race, my legs were hurting,” she said. “I was in so much pain and I was just standing there and just looking at the board. I was like, ‘Please, please, please. I hope that I got the record. I just hope.’ And then, I didn’t think that I would even break 1:40. To go from 1:41 to 1:39 was a big jump, and I didn’t know that it was possible.”

Riverhead coach Maria Dounelis knew how much that moment meant for Deraveniere. “She’s had her eyes on that record for a long time,” said the coach.

About a week later, Deraveniere received some surprising, good news: She is headed to the state meet as a member of Section XI’s intersectional distance medley relay team. She will run the 600 in that relay with Mount Sinai’s Kyra Franks (300), Miller Place’s Danielle Rose (1,500) and Westhampton Beach’s Jackie Amato (1,000) at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships to be held March 7 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island.

Qualifying for the state meet wasn’t on her radar.

“It’s amazing,” Deraveniere, who has never competed in a state meet before, said after her workout Monday. “It’s unreal. It’s something I never imagined. I’m just like your average runner. I come to practice, I do the workouts. It’s unbelievable.”

Then again, perhaps not so unbelievable, given Deraveniere’s reputation for running through pain and training hard.

“In workouts, she’s putting it all out there,” Dounelis said. “She’s always working hard. She’s not afraid to push herself.”

Deraveniere, who will run the 600 in the Long Island Elite Meet Saturday at St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington, said she would not have produced these fast times if not for the difficult workouts. She also credited her running partner, senior Christina Yakaboski. “She’s my inspiration and, honestly, just running with her has pushed me so much,” said Deraveniere.

Prior to the state qualifying race, Dounelis had some inspirational words for Deraveniere. Knowing how close Deraveniere had come to the school record in her previous meet, the coach told her: “What do you got to lose? Just go for it.”

Deraveniere said: “I always had that mindset running the 600 like you have to treat it as a 400 and then a 200 afterward. Mentally I was just like, ‘This is such a difficult race.’ You just got to keep on going. I just try to improve every single year. Since eighth grade, my time has gone down three seconds every single year, so I have just tried to improve. I really love it. It’s my favorite race.”

“It’s good to start out your first 200 going at a faster pace, then your next 200 kind of easing in and then your last 200 just going as fast as you can,” she continued. “That’s the part where it really hurts. Yeah, you just got to fight through it.

“I was hurting so much after that race. It was worth it, though.”