Jackson, Longwood take Large Schools title
This was supposed to be the year that Longwood would be the most vulnerable.
The two-time defending Suffolk Large Schools champion graduated a majority of scorers from last year, with Mark Jackson one of just two returning Lions who competed in the state meet.
So when Jackson was asked to run back-to-back-to-back events in Saturday's Large Schools championship at Suffolk CC-Brentwood to make up for those losses, the senior responded with one of the best meets of his career.
Jackson won two of his three events and finished second in the other as Longwood defeated North Babylon, 62-46, to take home its third Large Schools title in as many years.
Port Jefferson defeated Kings Park, 70-39, later in the day to claim the Small Schools crown.
"I was just hoping that I could live up to the standards that we had set over the past few years," Jackson said.
Jackson started his meet off with a win in the 55 meters in 6.64 seconds, defeating Floyd's Andrew Tate (6.83) by .19 seconds.
Immediately following his run, Jackson hurried over to make the final of the long jump. He finished second with a jump of 22 feet, 2 1/2 inches, which was 3 3/4 inches behind Devin Mirenda of Smithtown West (22-61/4).
As soon as the long jump ended, Jackson went straight to the high jump area. Jackson cleared a height of 6-5 to earn his second victory of the day.
"I just kept focused and tried to jump," Jackson said. "If you overthink everything, you won't clear the jump."
Jackson admitted afterward that running three straight events was taxing. "My legs decided they wanted to tucker out a bit," he said. "It does take a lot out of you."
But with the state qualifier meet a week away, Jackson was encouraged by how he ran. "It's good to know that I can go back-to-back-to-back events and still have a good performance in each," he said.
Andrew Keresztes and James Burke finished 1-2 in the 1,000 to lift Port Jefferson in the Small Schools meet later in the afternoon. Keresztes clocked a 2:35.80, and Burke ran 2:36.75.
"I tried to stay up in the top five and save enough energy for my kick," said Keresztes, who also finished second in the 600 (1:25.69) and anchored the Royals' 4 x 800 team to a win in 8:24.03. "I waited just until I had to make my move for the win."
Ben Neiman finished second for Port Jefferson in the 55 hurdles with a time of 7.87 seconds, and Burke won the 1,600 in 4:32.36.
"Our depth was tremendous today," Royals coach Rod Cawley said. "Whenever it felt like another team was creeping up on us in the standings, we'd get a chunk of points in one shot and pull away."