It was another great night for the Huntington High School boys’ indoor track and field program as the Blue Devils qualified athletes in two events for the New York State championships in March.
Unlike past seasons when Huntington boasted nationally ranked athletes, nothing was guaranteed as the Blue Devils vied in the Section XI state qualifier at Suffolk-West in Brentwood earlier this week. “You always have to earn it, but never more so than this year,” said Ron Wilson, Huntington’s head coach. “I’m really proud of these kids.”
Huntington junior Jonathan Smith turned in the fastest 600m run time (1:23.08) of his career to advance to the state finals in that event. “Jonathan rose to the occasion,” Wilson said. “He ran against some extremely talented athletes and was simply magnificent.”
Huntington junior Jonathan Smith with Blue Devil track head coach Ronald Wilson.
After qualifying for the state finals in the 600m run, Smith’s evening wasn’t quite over. The teenager anchored Huntington’s 4x200m relay team that upended the hopes and dreams of several opponents.
The Blue Devils took the track for the final race of the night and a trip to the state championships riding on the outcome. Needing to finish in the top two, freshman Jason Turner ran the first leg before handing the baton off to senior Alex LaBella. Freshman Anthony Joseph covered the third leg, keeping Huntington close to the leaders. Smith ran the anchor lap, blazing by two foes and sweeping across the finish line two-100ths of a second ahead of third place Bay Shore.
“I feel good about my performance and accomplishments,” Smith said. “I knew going into my 600m race that I had to go out hard and finish strong and that’s exactly what I did. This is my first year of running the 600m and I didn’t think I could run 1:23.08 and to the states, but I listened to my coaches and they told me that I could. I’m also happy that my 4x200m relay team is going to the state championships. It was a little bit scary because I ran the anchor and I got the baton in fourth place. All I was thinking was ‘just catch up.’”
Huntington’s 4x200m relay covered the distance in 1:34.04, nipping Bay Shore at the finish line. “It was a great feeling having all that hard work at practice pay off,” LaBella said. “I’m very excited to competing in the state championships.”
The Blue Devils will attempt to qualify additional athletes for the state championships when Huntington hosts the Section XI weight throw state qualifier on Thursday afternoon in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium. The action begins at 4 p.m.
The weight throw is essentially an indoor hammer throw, but with some significant safety features. Huntington has one of Long Island’s finest contingents of athletes in the event, so Wilson is hopeful one or more could emerge and qualify for the state championships.
The state championships will be held on Saturday, March 3 at the Ocean Breeze Track & Field Athletic Complex at Staten Island.