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Hills Clears Hurdles At State Qualifier 

Half Hollow Hills West’s Alyssa Jean, Alexis D’Alessandro, Leeyan Redwood and Kayla Hodge proudly hold up plaques after their combined time earned the foursome fifth place in the 4x200 relay at Saturday’s state qualifier while Gabby Barone holds up a golden baton for her performance.

While the winter track season has come to a close, several runners will have the opportunity to “start” all over again at the state and national championships after several athletes sprinted to the top at last weekend’s state qualifier tournament.

Half Hollow Hills East’s Sam Chimezie won first place in the 55-meter hurdle, competing the jump in 7.68 seconds at the Feb. 8 qualifier at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood.

The Half Hollow Hills West track team was also a big contender in several events and will be sending a handful of strong, distinguished competitors to the national meet.

At Saturday’s qualifier, senior shot put thrower Oyin Adewale earned first place, having secured her spot early in the season with an impressive 42.02-foot throw. Adewale, however, was the only member of the girls  team to qualify for states at the Feb. 8 tournament.

The girls 4×200 relay team, including junior Kayla Hodge and Alyssa Jean and sophomores Alexis D’Alessandro and Leeyan Redwood, locked in a fifth place win with an overall time of 1:51.54 minutes.

“It was awesome the way we were all there to support each other and hang out together. It really helped me get through the four hours in between prelims and finals,” D’Alessandro said.

According to Redwood however, the spring season will be “10 times better” for the girls’ state championship berth.

“We already know from the winter season that we have skills and talent, and now in the spring it will be our chance to hone in on those skills,” Redwood said after the relay.

Freshman Victoria Antoine came in 17th place in the 600-meter run, outrunning almost half of the other 32 other contestants with a time of 1:44.12. Junior Deja Wilson soared over 4-11 feet in the high jump, earning 13th place out of the 25 total contestants.

The boys team was able to send several runners to states, including their 4×200 relay team, who completed the track in 1:33.89 minutes. The team is made up of seniors Gabe Agbim, Josh Connor, and Bryce Johnson, and junior Kory Fitzgerald.

Johnson will also travel to the state championships for the 300-meter dash after running a time of 36.26 seconds. Along with the 4×200 team, other runners who will participate in the state championships is junior Dante English, who secured his spot after jumping 22-00.50 feet in the long jump.

Although senior Travis Ng did not make it to the state champs, Ng gave a strong performance in the pole vault, leaping over 12-01.00 feet, just short of the 13 feet requirement for states.

Coach Jim Christian, who has been coaching for 30 years, said he was humbled by how well his runners excelled under the mounting pressure of the state tournament.

“The best part of the meet was seeing our athletes rise to the occasion and run personal best times in a high stake competition,” Christian said.

The state championship meet will be held March 1 at Cornell University. The Half Hollow Hills track members also hope to make their mark at nationals to cap off the 2014 winter season.

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