Backed by strong individual performances in the meter races and its nationally ranked relay team, the Freeport boys’ track and field team placed an impressive fourth in the Nassau Class A Championships at Saint Anthony’s High School on Feb. 6.
The Red Devils finished with 58 points among the 20 schools that competed in the event, just three behind third-place Massapequa and six ahead of Farmingdale. Last year’s Freeport team finished fifth with 41 points.
“We told the kids on the bus, ‘Listen, you’re just as good as anybody else. You’ve just gotta get out there and persevere,’” said coach Charles Gilreath. “They went out and performed like I expected them [and] like they thought they should. I was excited about it. I’m looking forward to going forward.”
Jordan Jackson finished second in the 300-meter final and was again the runner-up in the 600 with a personal-best time of 1 minute, 24.29 seconds.
“Jordan Jackson has very deceptive speed,” Gilreath said. “He has range from the 55 (meters) up to the 1,000, so he gives us a lot of versatility.”
Teammate Kevon O’Brien Smith won the 600 with a time of 1:23.92.
“He finished out of the money last year in the 600 and came back with a new attitude this year,” Gilreath said. “He said, ‘Coach, I want to make the state meet in the 600, I want to be the county champion.’ He’s worked really hard. He gets the job done.”
Both juniors were also instrumental in leading the 4 X 400 relay team to a victory with a time of 3:26.62, over two seconds better than rival Elmont. O’Brien Smith anchored the foursome that also included junior Jahmel Maynor-Mendez and senior Sebastien Buckeridge.
That group also placed first in the Millrose Trials on Jan. 10 and third at the Dr. Sander Invitational on Jan. 25. Senior Braylin Marine and junior Trevon Campbell ran with Jackson and O’Brien Smith to win the Section 8 Conference 1 Championships on Jan. 16.
“The sophomores, who are now juniors, knew they could be special,” Gilreath said. “I thought this could be a special group and, for some reason, when they’re on the track, they know how to pull each other up. We have the right balance.”
Buckeridge, who was also fifth in the 1,000 meters, sat out last season after running on the team in ninth and tenth grades and not missed a beat in his return.
“He’s made the difference in the relay,” Gilreath said. “Sebastien coming out and in great shape with a new attitude and really wanting to do well this year, he really changed the dynamics of the relay. He gives us the upper hand.”
Senior Jason Peralta was fourth in the 1600 and seventh in the 1000, junior Gerard Smilke placed fifth in the shot put and Manor-Mendez finished fifth in the triple jump. Marine was ninth in the long jump.
The team returned to St. Anthony’s for the state qualifier. The state meet will be in Ocean Breeze, Staten Island, on March 3.