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Boys Track and Field: SWR’s Washburn gets the time he wants

Running 400 meters in competition is tough. It amounts to a long sprint. Throw in some hurdles and it gets that much tougher.

The 400 hurdles can be an intimidating event, requiring rhythm, stamina and speed. It may be daunting for some athletes, but not for James Washburn. The Shoreham-Wading River senior has an interesting take on it. As he sees it, the hurdles take his mind off the grueling sprinting that is involved.

“It kind of distracts me so I’m focusing on not falling on my face and the hurdle stuff,” he said.

Well, one can’t argue with the results. Washburn’s mindset works. It sure did Thursday when he came in first place in a personal-record 56.89 seconds in the Suffolk County Class C boys track and field championships at Mount Sinai High School.

“That was a pretty good feeling,” he said.

The next finisher after Washburn was Wyandanch sophomore Valson St. Phard in 59.51.

“I finally had a race where I didn’t stutter step,” Washburn said. “A lot of times, one hurdle messes me completely.”

Shoreham-Wading River’s Patrick Shea was second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and third in the 1,600. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Earlier in the meet, Washburn took third in the 100 in 11.32, behind Mount Sinai’s George Franks (10.80) and Wyandanch’s Jeremiah Fenwick (11.09).

After failing to get a personal record — PR for short — in the 100, Washburn said he “kind of had my hopes down, but something clicked” in the 400 hurdles and he PR’d in that event.

What’s bigger, getting a PR or finishing first?

“Definitely the PR,” Washburn said. “Yeah, definitely for college.”

Washburn will attend Kutztown University (Pa.), and he wants to run track there. “I just got to talk more with the coach,” he said. “I have the time now. It’s a great day.”

SWR freshman Patrick Shea was a second-place finisher in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10:58.87. Mount Sinai sophomore Jess Joe Augustine won the race in 10:27.52.

“I’m proud. I ran the mile right before it,” Shea said. “I was just hoping to get top three because I was pretty gassed.”

Shea didn’t get much of a breather after his third-place finish in the 1,600 in 4:42.79.

SWR freshman Michael Huebner, coming off an ankle injury, clocked 54.68 to finish fourth in the 400.

“I feel fine,” Huebner said in reference to the ankle. “I can’t keep using it as an excuse.”

SWR junior Wesley O’Reilly, who passed two runners near the end of his heat to grab sixth place in 55.18, spoke highly of Huebner’s ability and potential.

“Oh man, he is crazy,” O’Reilly said. “He’s always been faster than me, but still he is crazy. In a couple of years. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s number one.”

Elsewhere, SWR’s Connor Blunnie was fourth in the pole vault (10 feet) and teammate Bradley Doherty took fifth in the shot put (39-8 3/4).

SWR totaled 39.33 points to rank sixth in the team standings. Mount Sinai compiled 173 points for the team championship.

Said SWR coach Joe Mordarski: “Almost everybody PR’d today. That’s what matters.”


Riverhead senior Dominick Gambino cleared 11-6 to take second place in the pole vault in the Suffolk Class AA Championships Monday at Commack High School. The Blue Waves also received third-place finishes from junior David Burns in the pentathlon (2,419 points) and junior Angelo Confort in the 110 hurdles (15.34). Senior James Foster (44-2 in the shot put) and junior Benjamin Normoyle (128-11 in the discus) brought Riverhead fourth-place finishes.