Armory track: Iona Prep’s Nahim, Stepinac’s Davitt with top NY times – The Journal News

Armory track: Iona Prep’s Nahim, Stepinac’s Davitt with top NY times  The Journal News

NEW YORK — When Marcus Nahim hit the 55-meter finish line at Saturday’s U.S. Army Officials Hall of Fame Invitational track and field meet at The Armory, he had little doubt he’d won.

Even a camera operator, who shot the reactions of sprint winners to go live on The Armory’s large video display screen, thought Nahim the winner, scanning to the Iona Prep senior and staying on him for several seconds.

Then the camera suddenly moved to Simsbury, Connecticut’s Noble Gongon.

A couple of seconds later, as the electronically-clocked race times were displayed, the reason was clear.

Gongon had edged Nahim by .01 of a second, winning in 6.4 seconds.

“I was celebrating like I had it,” Nahim noted moments later.

But his disappointment was tempered.


Nahim, who’ll run next year for Binghamton University, a popular landing spot for much of the area’s top high school track and field talent, not only set a personal-best mark with his 6.41 time but also moved into a tie for first this season among all high school boys in New York who’ve run the 55.

Noting he was disappointed with his 6.59 qualifying run in Saturday’s prelims, he said, “I really wanted to turn it around and I did.”

He did so by watching tape of his prelim. In the final., he corrected his form, which had been “lackluster,” and also turned up his speed during the second half of the race, which he hadn’t done in the prelim.

Nahim’s 6.41 was an Iona Prep school record and the third fastest all-time top 55 time by a Westchester County high school boy.

Moreover, the time qualified Nahim to compete in the top, championship division in March at Nike Indoor Nationals. That event will be staged at The Armory, whose track facility was recently renamed the Nike Track and Field Center at The Armory after New Balance left to concentrate its meets at its new facility in Massachusetts.

Nahim will be busy at nationals.

About 15 minutes after his 55 run, Nahim anchored Iona Prep’s boys 4×200-meter relay, to a second-place finish.

He, Justin Hargraves, Terron Johnson and Matt Davitt ran a school-record 1:30.43 to finish just behind Windsor (1:30.06).

The time qualified the group for the Nike championship boys 4×200 race.

Nahim, who noted Saturday was the first time the Gaels ran with “genuine competition” and weren’t “kind of racing against ourself and time,” said, “We can definitely improve.”

That starts with him, he indicated, explaining with almost no recovery time after the 55, he was “running out of gas” during his relay anchor leg. His split, he pointed out, was 22.17, when it’s normally 21.7.

Expecting the events to be scheduled much farther apart at nationals, Nahim predicted a 1:29 relay finish is possible.

Local winners

With thousands of athletes competing from more than 260 schools, gold was a relative rarity for those from local teams.

But two relays and two individuals took top spots.

Jayla Johnson of Mount Vernon’s Montfort Academy ran a personal-best 1:37.12 to capture the girls independent 600-meter race.

Johnson, a sophomore who’s quickly establishing herself as one of the area’s up-and-coming track stars, qualified to compete in the top division at nationals with that time, which stands at No. 11 this season among high school girls statewide and No. 1 among those from Westchester County.

Hastings’ Caitlin Thomas also won the girls two-mile race in 11:17.46.

Eighth-grade twins Olivia and Alexis Smith, junior Gabrielle Barnette and senior Eko Dodd-Brown combined to win the girls shuttle hurdles relay for New Rochelle in 36.11 seconds.

Rye (Mali White, Claire Curran, Cate Doyle and Bella Lulaj) won the girls sprint medley relay in a school-record 4:22.18. The squad was more than three seconds faster than runner-up Simsbury.

Other top finishes

Some races were conducted in different divisions with the gold division being for elite competitors and silver and bronze representing athletes below that level.

Stepinac junior David Davitt took fourth overall out of 15 in the gold-level boys 500 in a two-second personal-best 1:04.14 that moved him to second best this season out of all New York high school boys who’ve competed at the distance.


His time, which qualifies him for nationals at the championship level in the 400, was even more noteworthy because he recorded it while running out of a slower heat.

Describing himself as “very happy” with his performance, he still wondered what his time might have been had he been in the fast heat.

“I think the faster guys would have helped push me,” Davitt said.

Davitt, who also clocked 35.4 for fourth out of 24 in the boys gold-level 300, noted his season goals are to break 34 in the 300, run sub-49 in the 400 and run 1:19 in the 600.


Mount Vernon’s Tianna Stewart improved her personal best in the girls weight throw by more than two feet, with a 39-10.25 throw for fifth out of 43.

Mount Vernon coach Charles Winslow noted the senior, who also triple jumps, is in just her first season of weight throwing.

“She’s a newbie. She’s still learning,” Winslow said.

While Stewart’s long and lanky 5-10 frame is hardly typical for weight throwers, Winslow said her long arms and speed on spins are positives.

And he clearly anticipates Stewart continuing to continue improving.

“I told her she can throw 45 easily,” he said.

Bronxville ran a season-best 1:46.04 for fourth in the girls gold division 4×200 relay.

Scarsdale (4:14.81) was fifth out of 20 in the girls only 4×400 varsity relay.


Briarcliff’s Kornel Smith clocked a personal-best 4:23.19 in the boys invitational mile. That placed him 12th overall out of 42.

Bronxville (season-best 9:54.42) was fifth out of 23 in the girls 4×800 varsity relay and New Rochelle (season-best) 10:07.9 was ninth.

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Pearl River’s Nepolitan, others honored


Pearl River resident John Nepolitan, who ran track and cross-country for Suffern High (Class of 1978) and who began a highly successful coaching career while still in college that would eventually see him head teams for years at Albertus Magnus High School and New jersey’s Don Bosco Prep, was honored during the meet for his contributions to track after he stopped coaching.

Nepolitan was one of four people to receive The Armory’s Stan Saplin Media Award, named after the late sports journalist, statistician and track and field historian.

In 2006, Nepolitan, who had competed in cross-country for a season at St. Thomas Aquinas College, stepped away from coaching in at Bosco after a decade there.

Wanting to continue being connected with track and cross-country, he bought himself camera equipment and set about teaching himself how to use it.

That decision has taken him around the world.

Besides photographing for The Armory, Nepolitan, who’s a history teacher at Don Bosco, has shot extensively for the huge online running sites RunnerSpace and DyeStat.

DyeStat gave him a tryout at a worlds cross-country qualifier in 2006 in New York City’s Van Cortlandt Park.

Since then, he has photographed world and other high-level championships in 15 countries, as well as countless high school and collegiate meets.

In fact, his favorite two photos are from his local high school work.

One, shot early in his photojournalism career, depicts a North Rockland High runner falling backward over a steeplechase water jump, his hand frozen atop the water before he plunges in.

The other is of North Rockland’s three-time national high school cross-country champion and current NC State star Katelyn Tuohy at her last high school cross-country nationals. It shows her in the unusual state of being in “a little trouble” late in the race as she glances back at fast-closing runners who ultimately just missed catching her.

Nepolitan has no plans to stop shooting all levels of track and cross-country competitors.

But there’s one thing he’d like to add to his photographic resume.

“The Olympics,” he said.

Also receiving Saplin honors were longtime Armory announcer Ian Brooks, who has also called races like the New York City Marathon, and DyeStat founders Donna and her late husband, John, whose company was at the forefront of putting track stats, rankings and track features online.

Nancy Haggerty covers cross-country, track & field, field hockey, skiing, ice hockey, basketball, girls lacrosse and other sporting events for The Journal News/lohud. Follow her on Twitter at @HaggertyNancy. ,