When it comes to dealing with hurdles, there aren’t many better at it than Madison Zelin. It’s what she does.
Zelin navigated her way over plenty of hurdles Thursday at the Suffolk County Class C girls track and field championships at Mount Sinai High School. The Shoreham-Wading River junior bolted to victory in the 400-meter hurdles in a personal-record 1 minute, 7.01 seconds, and was second in the 100 hurdles in 16.58. Her 16.32 in the 100 hurdles prelims was a personal record as well, she said.
“The 400 is definitely a lot different than the 100 because of the height difference [of the hurdles] and the amount of strides,” Zelin said. “Like, for example, the wind like really affects you in the 400 hurdles and not really the 100 because you have to get a certain amount of strides to get your right foot over for the 400 hurdles, and it’s really hard to do your other leg, so if you mess up your stride, you just stutter step, which takes a lot of time off. And normally for the last hundred [meters] I stutter step, but I didn’t at all today, so I felt really strong throughout the last hundred.”
Zelin completed the 400 hurdles 4.83 seconds faster than the runner-up, Miller Place’s Giovanna Kalin. Mount Sinai’s Kate Del Gaudio was first in the 100 hurdles in 14.72.
“Obviously, like I was aware of my seed times and stuff,” Zelin said. “I didn’t want to get that in my head, so I was like, ‘I’m most likely going to do good, but I still got to work really hard.’ And then this week I was really struggling with like a leg injury, which was bothering me a lot, but I was happy I was able to get through that.”
Flexibility helps in hurdling, and that’s no problem for Zelin, a former gymnast. “I have long legs, so it’s pretty easy for me to glide over them, but it’s just really fun for me,” she said.
Asked where these achievements rate for her, Zelin answered: “Today was pretty high because I was a freshman when COVID first happened, so this is actually my first like real year of spring track. Last year I didn’t have any invitationals and obviously freshman year we had nothing at all. So I’m just really happy to finally experience the full track experience.”
SWR’s 4×800 relay team had quite an experience, taking first place in 10:12.16. “That was a big PR,” said junior Colleen Ohrtman.
Ohrtman received the baton from the leadoff runner, seventh-grader Ellie Connell. The last two legs were handled by junior Maddie-Lynn McKiernan and freshman Emma Granshaw. It was Granshaw who took the lead on the last lap.
“I knew Emma was gonna be able to do it,” Ohrtman said. “She’s always able to pull through for us.”
Those performances helped SWR to a fourth-place showing in the team scoring with 64.5 points. Mount Sinai was first with 141.
Well before the relays, Granshaw already had a nice day, grabbing second in the 800 in 2:25.32. “My goal was to get second and I did, so I’m very happy,” she said, adding: “It means a lot. I’ve been thinking about this race for weeks now, and I was just hoping and hoping that I would do as well as I wanted to and I did.”
Granshaw said she actually ran the first 400 meters faster than the last 400. “I believe we went out a little too fast,” she said, “so at the end, I was a little tired, but I just kept pushing and pumping my arms and I hoped for the best.”
McKiernan turned in her best time in the 2,000-meter steeplechase, 7:44.38, a 40-second improvement on her previous best that brought her second place, she said.
“I don’t know what came out of me,” she said. “I mean, I felt great.”
McKiernan said: “I was actually very nervous because my mom does MRIs for a living and right before the race she texted me and told me that she just treated a girl who broke her wrist doing the steeplechase, so I was pretty nervous.”