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Mar 9, 2015 1:14 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Five Lady Hurricanes, And A Shark, Bring Home Medals From States In Track

Mar 9, 2015 3:37 PM

On one of the biggest stages, the “Fab 4x4” came through.

Senior Lauren Lorefice, juniors Grace Gilbakian and Nora Murphy, and sophomore Jenny Jordan—all members of Westhampton Beach’s 4X400-meter relay team—placed third at the New York State Indoor Track Championships at Cornell University’s Barton Hall on Saturday.

The Lady Hurricanes crossed the finish line in 4:02.72, which, according to their head coach John Broich, is the second fastest time ever by a Suffolk County team at the state meet. Bay Shore holds the fastest time, finishing the race in 3:59.02 in 2012.

Keira Kelly, a junior, also returned home with a medal from states after taking fourth in the high jump after reaching 5 feet 4 inches. Counting the medals earned by the 4x4 team, this year was by far the best showing ever by a Westhampton Beach team at states, according to Broich.

Everything didn’t go as smoothly as the girls would have liked, however. In the preliminaries, Lorefice and Jordan had a bit of a faulty handoff, which led to a sixth-place finish in 4:03.91. They were still in the top eight, qualifying them to advance to the finals.

Still, the handoff led to a little bit of nervousness heading into the final race of the day.

“Jenny just went out a little fast and I was kind of dying, getting tried,” Lorefice explained. “I was a little nervous that it might happen again in the finals, but I just told [Jenny] to just wait for me to come and it worked out.”

“I think we were just nervous in the semis because a lot of other teams … ran their best times,” Gilbakian added. “We were like the seventh seed going into the finals, which was scary. We weren’t sure if we were going to make it.”

Lorefice jetted out of the gates in the finals, though, giving Westhampton Beach a quick lead before being overtaken. The girls dropped down to as low as fourth place in the race but, in the final leg, Gilbakian passed one runner and was gaining on the second-place team before running out of time.

Saratoga placed second in 4:01.61, just a little over a second ahead of Westhampton Beach. Suffern won the race in 3:55.37.

“Definitely a huge honor,” Murphy said of placing third.

Lorefice was credited by Broich for starting the relay team three years ago when she was a sophomore. In that time, all of the girls have become good friends, something Lorefice, now a senior, will never forget.

“I think it’s been really awesome. It’s been a great experience,” she said. “When I was younger, I didn’t even think it would be possible. I thought going to states was the biggest thing ever, and then I did it as a junior [in the 300-meter dash], and then we did it again as a relay team now as a senior, and it’s been so much fun because these girls are my best friends.”

Kelly was nervous entering her high jump event because she decided early on she was going to skip jumping 5 feet and go right for 5 feet 2 inches, something she’s never done before. Her decision paid off as she was able to clear 5 feet 4 inches after just one miss; it took many of her competitors multiple attempts to clear the same height, allowing her to take fourth place.

East Islip senior Faith Penny won the state title with a 5-foot-6-inch jump. Kelly, whose personal best jump indoors is 5 feet 5 inches, said she’s reached 5 feet 6 inches in practice but never in competition.

“I was really close on some attempts,” she said, referring to her personal best. “It was disappointing not to make it but it was still close to my best, so I was happy.”

Before starting the spring track season, the 4x4 team and Kelly will compete in the prestigious New Balance Indoor Nationals at The Armory in New York City this Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14.

ESM’s Langdon 
Brings Home Bronze

Eastport South Manor senior Connor Langdon earned the bronze in the high jump after clearing 6 feet 6 inches at states.

Langdon’s success came as a bit of a surprise being that his personal best jump entering Saturday’s competition was 6 feet 4 inches. He cleared that height on his first try, though, and also cleared 6 feet 5 inches without encountering any problems. It took Langdon the max amount of tries, three, to clear 6 feet 6 inches, which he eventually did to take his third-place spot.

“Connor exceeded everything we thought, honestly,” ESM head coach Brian Methven said. “The fact that he jumped 6 feet 5 inches … he upped his game at the biggest meet and he had fun doing it, which is great.”

Langdon said he knew ahead of time that 11 other jumpers in the state were also seeded at 6 feet 4 inches, so he knew he had to step up his game to place. “There were a lot of people seeded ahead of me, but my goal was to finish in the top eight,” he said. “The energy in that stadium was just intense, so I got really pumped up and did what I did.”

Langdon noted that he didn’t think third place was within his reach. “I was so emotionally happy,” he said. “It was hard to believe I placed third in the state.”

It helped, Langdon added, that the top three finishers were from Suffolk County. William Floyd senior Hasani Rathan won the state title with a personal best height of 6 feet 10 inches and Smithtown West sophomore Danny Claxton placed second with a 6-foot-8-inch leap. All three Suffolk County jumpers pushed each other.

“Going up there, I didn’t really know anybody, but Danny was there helping me with my steps, helping me the day of the meet, getting the final touches,” Langdon said. “Danny was the one telling me I could hit 6 feet 5 inches. All the high jumpers there, it’s like a family and we all helped each other out.”

Another Shark, junior Luke Lafferty, also competed at states. He finished 11th in the long jump with a leap of 21 feet ½ inch. Sophomore Taylor McClay represented the Lady Sharks and finished 13th in the 1,000-meter race, crossing the finish line in 3:02.81.

Langdon and Lafferty are expected to be at Nationals this weekend.

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awesome job...
By sag runner (24), Easthampton on Mar 9, 15 7:14 PM