It wasn’t completely smooth sailing, but it all worked out in the end. The Huntington boys’ track and field team overcame several mishaps to qualify athletes in three different events for this week’s state championships in Albany.
Scott Gulizio got off to a slow start in the 800-meter run, falling far behind the leaders at last weekend’s Section XI state qualifier at Port Jefferson. Once the senior finally found his stride, he started passing competitors at a fast clip and managed to finish third in a new school record time of 1 minute, 53.83 seconds, 1.12 seconds behind first place finisher Shamar Powell of Walt Whitman and 49/100ths of a second off the second place pace of Bellport’s Tom Gassner.
Unfortunately for Gulizio, only the first place finisher and a second runner who has met the state-qualifying standard are eligible to advance to the state finals.
“It’s a real shame because Scott is one of the best in the state,” Huntington head coach Ron Wilson said. “Unfortunately, when you fall too far behind off the starting gun, it’s hard make up the deficit in a tough field.”
Another hard-to-take result came in the 110 high hurdles. Infinite Tucker struck the second hurdle and nearly came to a complete stop before recovering and speeding to the finish line, crossing third in 14.48 seconds.
The junior failed to qualify in one of his signature events, trailing Copiague’s Aaron McFadden (14.29) and Travon Duncan (14.36).
“Once it was over, all we could do is look ahead to the next race,” Wilson said.
The Blue Devils wouldn’t suffer another letdown.
Sophomore Kyree Johnson finished second in the 400 dash in a school record time of 48.50 seconds to qualify for the state finals in that event. Tucker came back to win the 400 hurdles in 53.14 seconds to also advance to the state championships.
“Kyree and Infinite both ran really well,” Wilson said. “There is always pressure in this type of meet. You have to be nearly perfect or you’re going to be disappointed in the state qualifier.”
Huntington and Half Hollow Hills West collided in the 4×400 relay, but in the highlight of the day, the Blue Devils won by less than a second to qualify for the state championships.
After running in Friday’s qualifying heat, Exzayvian Crowell stepped aside for alternate Shane McGuire, who ran the first leg in Saturday’s finals. Johnson, Gulizio and Tucker followed with blistering performances.
Huntington’s time of 3:19.17 nipped the Colts, who took second place in 3:19.87.
“It’s awesome,” Gulizio said. “It’s good to see all our hard work this season has paid off. Hopefully we can produce the same kind of results as winter.”