While Alac Peinkofer, a senior at Baldwinsville High School, in upstate New York, captured the Varsity ‘B’ section in 12:49.8, the first Uniondale (New York) athlete to cross the finish line was Najden Emmanuel. In the sport of cross country, Uniondale as team is not strong as they are in track and field and they may not be ‘up there’ in the Section Eight cross-country championship coming up in November at Bethpage State Park.
Emmanuel clocked in at 15:29.3, which earned him 117th place in a field of around 200 runners. He thinks that he did good in the race since athletes came from all over the United States in a meet that drew teams from 12 states.
Before the race started, Coach Elijah Blue, who has a tremendous track background, told his student athlete to keep pushing up his knees.
“Blue told me to push through the hills, and don’t stop,” Emmanuel said after the all-day festivities that drew some college recruiters, especially for those coaches on the next level who did not have meets of their own or those who sent somebody from their college staff to New York to examine their future prospects.
Emmanuel’s father Hogarth grew up in Haiti where he played soccer and is still doing the same with his friends. Hogarth tries to give pointers to his son about running and help him become a better runner.
“He tells me about my stride, and about mental focus,” the student athlete said. “I could picture in my head that I could do it (run).”
Hogarth, who came to New York when he was about 14-15 years of age, attended high school in Brooklyn.
Last year as a Uniondale junior, he ran in about 17 minutes in this same race of the Manhattan College high school meet. He lowered his time by about two minutes.
“I improved myself by training and lifting weights,” he said. “I strengthened every part of my body. I’ve trained as hard as I can, pushed through every time and didn’t stop.”
He felt that it was exciting to run with and against so many athletes and schools. He has to push through and focus every time on the course or on the track.