It was the heavyweight matchup that everyone wanted to see.
Garden City, the second-fastest 4 x 400-meter relay team in the nation, squared off against top-ranked Wakefield (Raleigh, N.C.) Sunday in a race to determine who would be crowned national champion.
The Trojans fell just short of victory, but they lived up to their billing. Emma Gallagher, Laura Jaeger, Katie O'Neill and Taylor Hennig ran a Nassau-record 3 minutes, 47.49 seconds to be second in the 4 x 400 on the final day of the New Balance Indoor Nationals at the Armory in Manhattan.
Garden City broke its county record of 3:50.03, set in January, by 2.54 seconds. Wakefield won in 3:43.01. "I'm ecstatic," Hennig said. "We came out, did what we wanted to do and showed what we were capable of."
Garden City stayed within 10 meters of Wakefield for the first two legs, but Wakefield pulled away on the third leg and held on. But for the Lady Trojans, second was more than enough.
"We ran the best we possibly could," Hennig said. "It was all we could ask for from our team."
Earlier in the meet, Rachel Paul of Sachem East took second in the 2-mile in a Suffolk-record 10:25.82, breaking the 15-year-old mark of 10:36.04 held by Sayville's Jillian Mastroianni. After hanging with the lead pack most of the race, Paul ran a 68-second final 400 to push her to what looked like a sure victory. But that's when the trouble started.
Carmen Carlos of Mobile (Ala.) caught Paul on the final straightaway and tried to squeeze by on the inside of lane one. The two got tangled up right before the finish, Paul tripped and fell, and Carlos passed her for the win.
"I felt a little nudge here and there," Paul said. "But when you're going that fast, anything can cause a trip." The Georgetown-bound senior tried to stay positive, saying she came into the race looking to break Mastroianni's record. "A win would have been nice," she said. "But I got the time I wanted."
It was Paul's second All-American honor this season. She anchored the Flaming Arrows' distance medley team to a sixth-place finish in 11:57.10 Friday.
Chaminade's Thomas Awad and North Shore's Brianna Nerud also earned All-American status two days after each set an indoor 5-kilometer record. Awad was fifth in the 2-mile (9:06.18) after his CHSAA-record 15:06.21. Nerud was third in the mile (4:45.29) after a state-record 16:43.56 in her 5k.
Olicia Williams (St. Anthony's) was fifth in the 800 (2:09.31). Bryan Rhodes took fourth in the weight throw (70 feet, 5 inches) for the Friars.
Melodee Riley, fresh off helping Riverhead make the state basketball tournament, made the finals in her first meet since last outdoor season. The senior was seventh with a triple jump of 38-91/2. "I just came out here to wing it," Riley said. "I haven't really jumped since the summer, so I was nervous, but I'm just happy I made the finals."