After the 1,000 meters Tuesday night at St. Anthony's, Zach Bugge, out of breath, went up to fellow Valley Stream North runner Tom Barbadelias and just had to ask him one question:
"Are you ever going to win a race by more than a lean?"
Barbadelias could only muster a laugh. But with a kick like his, no words were necessary.
In a near repeat of last year's meet, Barbadelias used his signature kick to take the lead, and then held off Lynbrook's Luke Germanakos' last-gasp surge to win the 1,000 in the Nassau Class B county championship. The senior took first place in 2 minutes, 39.63 seconds, just .02 seconds ahead of Germanakos (2:39.65) and .58 seconds ahead of Bugge (2:40.21).
Last year, he won the county title in the 1,000 by .06 seconds. The kid has a knack for dramatic finishes.
"I've always been the sort of guy who follows the front pack and then kicks at the end," Barbadelias said. "I like to say that my kick is the strongest part of my race."
Barbadelias found himself in fourth place amid a tight lead pack of five runners with two laps left. He made his move on the outside as the pack approached the final lap.
Germanakos, who had slid back to fourth, made a daring move on the inside to take second place, nearly running off the track with about 40 meters left. But Barbadelias outleaned the freshman at the line to defend his title.
"They came out a lot stronger at the end than I expected," Barbadelias said. "I'm just glad my kick was able to help me pull through."