Boys Varsity/JV Winter Track & Field
Game Summaries & Headlines.
Finally, Matthew Payamps could taste the fruits of a well-fought season. This wasn’t the case in the fall, when a peculiar November snowstorm wiped out the state Federation cross county championship and robbed the St. Anthony’s senior of the chance to win gold during a season where he dominated Long Island.
“After cross country, I was super disappointed,” Payamps said. “I was just so happy to use that as motivation, not let it keep me too down, and use it to really get after it in the winter season.”
It snowed again on Saturday morning, but this time it didn’t affect Payamps’ championship quest. The Georgetown-bound runner kicked his way toward an state indoor championship, winning the 1,600 meters in four minutes, 10.51 seconds at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.
Payamps found himself in a tight battle with Bronxville’s Alex Rizzo. Rizzo came into the meet with the fastest 1,600 time in the state, according to milesplit.com. But, even when passed by Rizzo with 400 meters left, Payamps kept his cool. With 100 meters to go, Payamps motored past his Saturday rival and cruised to victory. Rizzo was second in 4:13.21.
“I knew we were going to push each other to the line,” Payamps said of Rizzo. “When he took it with 400 to go, I kind of expected that just because of how strong he is and how much of a competitor he is. I just had to finish strong that last 200 and bring home the state championship.”
But once Payamps passed Rizzo, the race was virtually over.
“I just focused on finishing speed, getting my legs turning over, and focusing on what I’ve been doing all season,” Payamps said.
Elsewhere, Freeport’s Kevon O’Brien-Smith came from behind to win the 600 in 1:19.98. O’Brien-Smith battled with Huntington’s Johnathan Smith down the final back straightaway before the Freeport speedster took control on the turn.
“It was a lot of hard work. [Smith] is a really fast kid,” O’Brien-Smith said. “…I saw the finish line and wanted to win, so I had to push it and headed for another gear.”
Smith got out to a convincing start in the first 250 meters, but O’Brien-Smith never lost sight of him — or his confidence that he could catch him.
“My coach [Charles Gilreath] said, ‘on the last straightaway, just keep pumping and you’ll win,” O’Brien-Smith said. “I did what he said, and I won.”
Smith was able to get on the top of the podium later in the meet. Smith, along with his Huntington teammates, C.J. Kiviat, Justin Stevens and Anthony Joseph, won the 4 x 400-meter relay in 3:20.17 — a return to form for the Blue Devils who have, at times, dominated the event during the last five years.
Longwood’s Jaheim Dotson won the public school 300 in 34.87 seconds.
In the field, Uniondale’s Jadan Hanson won the triple jump, flying 49 feet, 7 ½ inches. Hanson, despite expressing some concern at his lack of practice time in the event during the regular season, had an unforgettable winter competing in it. He set the Nassau record last month, Uniondale coach Dennis Kornfield said, and came away with gold Saturday.
“I did well with my consistency,” Hanson said of his state championship performance. “Most of my jumps were near each other. I still didn’t hit 50 [feet] yet. Hopefully, I’ll do it next week at nationals. But, today, I was just very consistent.”
Hanson topped Jeremiah Willis from Cicero-North Syracuse, an athlete who is always at or near the top of the jumping leaderboards, and one that Hanson has immense respect for. Willis was second (49-6½).
“He’s the best competitor I ever went up against,” Hanson said.
Mount Sinai’s Kenneth Wei won the long jump, flying 23 feet, 5½ inches and placed second in the 55- meter hurdles in 7.45 seconds.