Over past years, one of the top distance runners to come out of Westbury High School and the entire Long Island was Owen Skeete, who dominated the long distance events. Skeete had a unique style of running – to go out fast, open a huge lead, hopefully not ‘die’ and hold on or easily get the victory. He holds every distance record at Westbury.
Is there anyone in Section Eight to equal or pass his style of running? Just ask his coach Donald Ross or any other Westbury athlete!
Take current student athlete senior Jason Aparicio, for example. “I saw him over the summer,” Aparicio said, after he watched some of the girls compete in the Friendship Games at Nassau Community College. “He (Skeete) told me to work hard, to work on form, bring the knees up when tired, believe in your self, and to must win.”
Skeete is now on the track team at Indiana University, where he is training hard for the indoor or winter season.
Jason’s father Hugo Murillo, a former soccer player in El Salvador, South America, started his son off because he had over weight problems, Murillo came to New York at the age of 22. Track helped Aparicio in reducing his weight.
His favorite events are the 200-meter-dash and 400-meter-run. He uses the latter event mainly for endurance. In these races, Aparicio does not follow the style of running that Skeete did. Instead, he tries to follow in the footsteps of another former Westbury athlete Darnell Mickens, who was a State champion while at Westbury in 2010. And Micken’s father does come from the Caribbean.
Now Aparacio is trying to lowering his times in the events that Coach Ross enters him into. He is trying to get a track scholarship to a college down south.
The student athlete says that the major difference in running in New York and in El Salvador is that down south the weather is hot. Here in New York it is not as hot.
However, soccer is the main sport in El Salvador. And from time to time, he visits El Salvador.
“I used to play soccer when I was little,” the athlete recently said. “When I was in the fourth and fifth grades I played soccer. Then I broke my ankle, and stopped soccer… and (eventually) I stopped the triple jump.”
Meanwhile, the coaches at Westbury High School entered many runners in various sections of the 600-meter-run. Based on time, Westbury’s Richard Taylor won the Open 600 in a time of 1:30.40. Teammate Josh Jean also took a section of the same event.
Jean’s father Joseph Jean, a native of Haiti, was a versatile athlete, and even was a tennis player in Haiti.
Action in the 22nd Friendship Games resume on Friday Jan. 10 with the boys action starting at 5:00 p.m. Finals are on Jan. 20 starting at 9:00 a.m. with boys and girls competition. Shot put, high jump and pole vault, are contested at Farmingdale High School on Jan. 8. Various awards will be presented on the day of the finals.
The Friendship Games are organized by Malverne High School and Lakeview Youth Federation, Inc.