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Shane McGuire

Kyree Johnson captures four, Huntington wins first-place team title

Infinite Tucker flies down the track. Photo from Huntington athletics

Infinite Tucker put on one of the most dominating performances ever seen in the New York State Track and Field Championships, winning six gold medals to lift Huntington to a first place finish in the team standings last weekend in Syracuse.

Huntington head coach Ronald Wilson and assistant coaches Eli Acosta and Haidee Bonhurst couldn’t have asked for more from the Blue Devil stars.

“What can I say?” asked Wilson rhetorically. “All those medals speak for themselves.”

The 6-foot, 5-inch 205-pound Tucker won New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division I titles in the 110-meter high hurdles, 400 intermediate hurdles and 4×400 relay, and then went on to win three more gold medals in the same events in the state federation finals when he defeated the top athletes from Division I, Division II and the state’s private and parochial schools.

Tucker is one of the toughest competitors that Huntington has ever fielded in any sport. Despite achieving mind-boggling individual honors, the athlete puts his team above himself. The senior notched the fastest 400 relay split, 47 seconds, of the weekend, which is an impressive feat considering he competed in multiple events and was running on “tired legs.”

“A gold medal is the great achievement and honor that a high school athlete can receive,” Tucker said. “But I would swap any title to be given another chance to run with my team.”

It was a special weekend for Kyree Johnson, who captured four gold medals in the 400 dash and 4×400 relay, winning NYSPHSAA Division I and federation crowns.

“There are a lot of great athletes in New York State, especially in the 400 dash,” Johnson said. “Fortunately, I came away with the state title this weekend, not only in the 400, but my relay won as well. I’m very proud of my teammates and very appreciative of my coaches.”

Huntington’s 4x400-meter Shane McGuire, Kyree Johnson, Infinite Tucker and Lawrence Leake broke the Suffolk County and state record in the event to win gold. Photo from Huntington athletics
Huntington’s 4×400-meter Shane McGuire, Kyree Johnson, Infinite Tucker and Lawrence Leake broke the Suffolk County and state record in the event to win gold. Photo from Huntington athletics

In only his second season of flinging the discus, senior Kenny Charles finished third in the state federation on Saturday with a throw of 177 feet, 11 inches, which set a new Huntington school record in the event. The athlete had earlier taken fourth in the NYSPHSAA Division I competition with a throw of 166 feet.

Wilson was happy with Charles’ performance in the Division I finals on Friday.

“No one could have ever predicted that he would throw an additional 12 feet on Saturday,” the coach said. The distance shattered Trayvon Toney’s Huntington record of 170 feet, 7 inches.

“Finally being able to break the school record is a testament to the exceptional coaching of coaches Wilson and Bonhurst,” Charles said. “I only began throwing last season and because of their instruction, I have been able to place in big meets, make it to states and nationals, and break the school record.”

In the 800 run, Shane McGuire finished sixth in NYSPHSAA Division I and eighth in the state federation to grab a bronze medal. The junior also ran on the gold medal winning 4×400 relay.

“Overall, it was a great weekend for the team,” McGuire said. “It was my first time competing individually at the states and although I wish I did a little better, going up against the best in New York was awesome. Most of those competing in the championship were seniors, so that gets me excited for next year.”

Junior Lawrence Leake ran the leadoff leg of the gold medal-winning relay and was sensational before handing the baton off to Johnson.

“We are always looking to impress and standout,” Leake said.

The relay’s time of 3 minutes, 15 seconds set new Suffolk and Huntington records in the event.

“Our 4×400 relay stayed focused,” McGuire said. “Even with three of us running in other events, we were able to still run strong and win with our best time yet.”

The Blue Devils racked up 46 points in the state federation team standings, easily outdistancing runners-up Maine-Endwell and Wilson Magnet School, which scored 26 points. Among competing schools, 71 teams scored at least one point in the competition.

“This has been an incredible season,” Wilson said. “It’s a special group of young men. They have been wonderful ambassadors for Huntington wherever they have gone.”

The Huntington track and field standouts will compete one more time this spring when they travel to the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro this weekend.

Huntington’s 4x400-meter relay team won the state championships for the second straight year. Photo from Huntington athletics

Forget about being county and state champions, the Huntington boys’ winter track 4×400-meter relay team raced a nation-best 3 minutes, 16.09 seconds at the New Balance Nationals Indoor.

At the Armory in Manhattan, the team topped its previous best mark for the third fastest time ever in New York, and ninth fastest ever nationally. The time also set a new Suffolk County record.

Kyree Johnson ran his quarter in 48.887 seconds, Shane McGuire finished in 49.701 and Lawrence Leake finished the third leg in 49.802, to put the Blue Devils in a position to win. And Infinite Tucker made it happen, turning in a blistering-fast time of 47.708 seconds on the fourth and final leg.

“We won because of hard work and dedication,” Johnson said. “We did it as a family and as a team.”

track_nb_nationals_3wHuntington’s time was slightly more than one second off the fastest mark ever at the New Balance Indoor Nationals and three seconds off the national record of 3:13.06 set by North Carolina’s New Bern High School in 2009.

Huntington’s 1600 sprint medley relay team captured All-American honors as well. Johnson, Leake, McGuire and Tucker finished in a time of 3:30.94 to place sixth in a strong field of 22 behind elite teams from Virginia, Michigan, Louisiana, Massachusetts and North Carolina. The Blue Devils All-American performance marks a new Suffolk County record in the event and is the fastest time in New York State this year.

Johnson and Leake ran the first two legs consisting of 200 meters each, followed by Tucker handling the third leg of 400 and McGuire running the anchor leg of 800.

The school also finished 11th in a field of 45 in the 4×200 relay. The squad’s time of 1:29.68 tied the Suffolk record set by Amityville in 2003. Johnson, Leake, Tucker and Exzayvian Crowell ran the race for the Blue Devils.

“What can you say about these four young men that have been blessed with a rare talent?” Huntington’s head coach Ron Wilson asked of his 4×400 relay team. “They gave this race everything they had and look at what they were able to accomplish. They have made our school and community proud and put Huntington track on the national map.”

Weeks prior, at the New York State Indoor Track & Field Championships at Cornell University, the Blue Devils kept Huntington track on the state map.

The quartet successfully defended its state title from last season with a time of 3:24.02, well off its previous season best before nationals, which was 3:17.36, notched in February at the Millrose Games, but it was still faster than any other relay team in New York.

“From the bus ride up, the only thought in my head was to win,” Johnson said. “Everything was strictly business from then until it was over. Coming home as a two-time state champion was definitely a major goal, but I also wanted to win the 55-meter dash because it was all up to me in that race. After coming in a close second in the 55, I knew I had to let go of that and give all my focus to the 4×400 relay. Seeing your team cross the finish line first again at the state championships is one of the best feelings around.”

Johnson was nipped by 1/100th of a second, clocking in a 6.40 just behind Rochester’s Wilson Magnet senior Kelly Brown.

Johnson wasn’t the only Blue Devil that Brown challenged.

Brown also raced Tucker to try and claim gold. This time, the Blue Devils came out on top, as Tucker won a gold medal in the 55-meter hurdles after clipping the final hurdle and sending it flying before he dove over the finish line. He outraced Brown by 2/1000ths of a second, and his time of 7.38 was seconds off his best of the winter, but good enough for the crown.

Tucker also claimed a silver medal in the long jump. Seeded sixth, the Blue Devils star leaped 23-01.75 feet on his fifth and final jump to finish behind Beacon senior Terrel Davis, who won by soaring 23-07.00 feet.

“Individually we are like a drop of water, but together we are an ocean,” Tucker said. “If there’s one thing that I learned from Coach Wilson and [assistant coach Eli] Acosta, it’s that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

During a March 21 board of education meeting, Superintendent Jim Polansky recognized the boys’ track team for all of its success.

“These kids continue to perform at the highest of levels,” he said. “What really makes us excited about the four of them, if you listen to the interview following the race, what they have to say about all of their experiences in Huntington and their coaches and the staff and just the humility they display, it really makes it all worthwhile.”

With multiple medals around their necks, it’s been worthwhile for the Blue Devils, too.

Alex Petroski contributed reporting.

Kyle O’Brien leads the pack for Huntington High School in a previous race. Photo by Jimi Mello

This fall could be the Huntington High School boys’ cross country team’s breakthrough season.

Kyle O’Brien, Shane McGuire and Ethan Dywer are the team’s top three returning runners that will look to make an impact on the team this upcoming season.

“If they put in the summer work they are going to bring a big 1-2-3 punch as all have been showing huge improvements over the past year,” Huntington head coach Shawn Anderson said. “Shane had a big breakout season in track and cross country last year, so we’re looking to see if it translates to a big year this coming fall.”

Ryan Smith, Connor Grosso, Ryan Mock, Quinn Kemerson, Danny Collins and Nick Sanin will look to compete for those last four spots to round out the Blue Devils’ competitive top seven.

“We are going to have a lot of unknowns in terms of newcomers from Finley Middle School,” Anderson said. “Our league has also changed, so we will be seeing new competition. Hopefully this translates to some wins.”

The Blue Devils finished last year’s cross country season with an 0-6 record and moved from League IV to League III.

“We have been in a building phase for a few years; always with a strong front, but the pack hasn’t always been where it needed to be to win those close meets,” Anderson said. The Blue Devils have lost several contests by a point or two.

All five runners medal at state championship

Infinite Tucker, a Huntington runner, leads the 400-meter hurdles pack at states. Photo from Huntington athletics

Infinite Tucker won a pair of gold medals to lead the Huntington boys’ track and field team to an impressive showing at the state championships in Albany last weekend.

Huntington's Infinite Tucker poses with his medals. Photo from Huntington athletics
Huntington’s Infinite Tucker poses with his medals. Photo from Huntington athletics

Tucker won a pair of 400-meter intermediate hurdles races to capture the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and State Federation titles.

“I thought that I was going to win because I didn’t see anyone in front of me the whole race,” the junior said after the first of his performances Friday afternoon. “It wasn’t my best race ever, but I thought that I ran well.”

Tucker’s time of 52.29 seconds in the federation finals ranks him No. 2 in the state and No. 3 in the country this spring.

He plans to compete in the event one more time this season at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina this week.

Huntington sophomore Kyree Johnson fared well in the 400 dash against a field filled with exceptional athletes. He ran against five seniors in the State Federation finals and finished third in 49.20 seconds. A day earlier, the runner earned a fourth place medal in the NYSPHSAA final. The State Federation races include the top public school, New York City/PSAL and private and parochial school athletes.

Huntington's Kyree Johnson, Scott Gulizio, Infinite Tucker and Shane McGuire won the silver medal in the federation’s 4x400 relay. Photo from Huntington athletics
Huntington’s Kyree Johnson, Scott Gulizio, Infinite Tucker and Shane McGuire won the silver medal in the federation’s 4×400 relay. Photo from Huntington athletics

Johnson’s best time of 48.5 seconds in the 400 dash this spring ranks him No. 1 among all New York sophomores. He too will be racing at nationals.

The long weekend ended on a high note when the Blue Devils’ 4×400 relay won a silver medal in the State Federation race, crossing the finish line in 3 minutes, 16.73 seconds, finishing behind Brooklyn’s Boys and Girls High School. Huntington outraced Newburgh, who had won the NYSPHSAA title only one day earlier.

“What an awesome race,” Huntington head coach Ron Wilson said of the relay. “You just had to be there to witness such excitement. The crowd of people gathered at their feet as the eight remaining young men grabbed the batons.”

Junior Exzayvian Crowell ran with the Blue Devils relay on Friday for the state title, where the team earned a fourth-place finish. Sophomore Shane McGuire took Crowell’s place for Saturday’s State Federation finals, joining Johnson, Tucker and senior Scott Gulizio on the track.

“Shane gave everything he had on the first leg and ran a personal best of 51.4,” Wilson said. “He almost collapsed trying to pass the baton to Scotty Gulizio, who split 49.2, which is good. Gulizio passed to Kyree Johnson who ran a 48.7 split and brought us to third. When our anchor, Infinite Tucker, got the baton, he took off like a jet. He passed the Newburgh anchor, who had won the state crown just the day before. He then set his eyes on the state leader, Boys and Girls, who was about 20 meters ahead of the rest of the field.”

Huntington's Kyree Johnson poses with his medals. Photo from Huntington athletics
Huntington’s Kyree Johnson poses with his medals. Photo from Huntington athletics

The Boys and Girls anchor, Richard Rose had just won the 400 dash in a sizzling 47.11 seconds, so it was a difficult assignment for Tucker to run him down, but the athlete gave it his all, splitting 47.435 seconds, falling just short of first place. Huntington’s time is a new school record and the second best in the state this spring. It’s also the second fastest in Suffolk, ever. Amityville set the record of 3:16.66 in 2002.

“We were just a bit shy of the Section XI record, but we will have one more crack at it at the nationals,” Wilson said.

All five Huntington athletes medaled at the state championships, with Crowell earning one in the NYSPHSAA 4×400 relay race and McGuire getting a silver medal in the State Federation finals. Gulizio won a pair of medals. Johnson and Tucker won four medals each.

“It was an exhausting weekend,” Wilson said, “but well worth it.”