Gold. That’s what Lawrence Leake is after this Saturday when the Huntington High School senior competes in the state championships at the Ocean Breeze Track & Field Complex at Staten Island.
Leake is among the favorites in the 600m run. At one point this season, the teenager had the fastest time in the country in the event. “Lawrence is definitely after first place,” Huntington head coach Ron Wilson said. “When you step on that track you have to want to win a gold medal. That’s what motivates you all through training and the competition itself.”
Huntington has also qualified for the state championships in the 4x400m relay. It will have stiff competition in the event. The Blue Devils claimed county, state and national titles in the event last winter.
Blue Devil star Kyree Johnson pulled a muscle in the Long Island Elite meet at St. Anthony’s last Saturday and the injury will prevent the All-American from vying for gold medals in the 55m and 300m dashes and the 4x400m relay at the state championships.
“It’s a really tough break for Kyree, who has been working hard and who wanted to try to win three gold medals,” Wilson said. “We have to shut him down for the next two weeks so we don’t jeopardize the spring season or put his future at risk.”
Leake’s eyes are glued on the gold medal. “He’s a special kid and a great athlete,” Wilson said. “He’s prepared himself well. That’s the most important thing. Lawrence is a tough competitor.”
Unlike many events, Leake’s 600m run is a final. There are no qualifying heats, so the senior has to be on top of his game. “I feel pretty confident,” the teenager said.
Johnson’s absence from the track at the state indoor championships is sure to send shock waves through the competitive field. He’s one of the country’s premier track stars and was looking forward to putting his talents on display for his fellow athletes and their coaches. But that will now have to wait for the spring championships.
“It breaks my heart to see Kyree sitting out of the state championships during his senior year, but unfortunately these things happen,” Wilson said. “We want to get him back to 100 percent and ready for the spring.”
Huntington’s 4x400m relay will consist of some combination of Leake, Mark Rafuse, Anthony Joseph, Brian Pierre and Jonathan Smith. Wilson isn’t sure of what combination he will use in the qualifying heat and the finals. “We have to see how everyone is feeling before the races,” Wilson said. “We’ll make our decisions when we need to, not before.”
Johnson and Leake are being recruited by some of the top track colleges in the country. Neither has decided where he plans to attend school next fall.
“Where hoping to have a very good showing on Saturday,” Wilson said.
State Championships Order of Events:
- 55m Hurdles - semifinals
- 55m Dash - semifinals
- Girls 3000m run
- 4x400m relay - semifinals
- 4x200m relay - semifinals
- Boys 3200m run
- 55m Hurdle Finals - Boys, then Girls
- 55m Dash - finals
- 1000m run
- Girls' 1500m race-walk
- 300m dash - semifinals
- 600m run
- Girls' 1500m run
- Boys' 1600m run
- Intersectional medley relay (1000-200-600-1600)
- 300m dash - final
- 4x800m relay
- 4 x 400m Relay - finals
- 4 x 200m Relay - finals
- Shot, then weight throw
- Triple jump, then long jump
- Boys pole vault
- Girls pole vault will start after the 55 m dash
- Boys and Girls high jump after the 55m dash
- 55m dash – winner of each heat, then times
- 55m hurdles – winner of each heat, then times
- 300m Dash – Top 8 times. Two heat final – times 5th – 8 – first section, 1st – 4th second section
- 4x200m relay and 4x400m relay – winner plus times - two section final, times in first section, winners plus fastest time in second section
- Eight people will advance in the field events (LJ, TJ, Shot and Weight Throw)