Owen Skeete, a senior at Westbury High School, continues his strategy of running-the same as he did last year when he had everyone talking about him-that is: Get out fast, run comfortable, hold on and win.
Week in and week out during the 2009-2010 high school track seasons whether it be indoors or outdoors, Owen Skeete’s strategy on the track was the same-go out fast, break away from the rest of the field and hold on. .Most of the time it was a success for him. And last Saturday’s race over the 5K cross country course at Bethpage State Park, Long Island, was no exception.
In his last season on the harrier team at Westbury High School, Skeete did exactly the same strategy that he accomplished as a junior when he excelled on the track.. The student athlete went on to capture the Section Eight and State Qualifying cross country championships in an excellent time of 15:47.9, a personal best performance for him passing his old record of 15:57 turned in earlier this season, and in the process set a new school record.
All different classes ‘A,’ ‘AA,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C’ competed in one race and scoring was then broken down into the four classifications.
By winning Skeete will represent Westbury High School and Section VIII or Nassau County in the State Meet this weekend in upstate New York.
In a field of l6l overall runners seniors James Panetta of Calhoun finished a distant second in 15:57, Dan Siegel of Great Neck South finished third in 15:59.9, Andrew Valenski of Massapequa wound up fourth in 16:04.1 and Tim Campbell of Calhoun ran a 16:10.7 for fifth place. These five harriers in any order on a given day are the cream of the crop in Nassau County.
This is the last harrier season for all the seniors, especially Skeete’s, who is a favorite here on Long Island because of style of running.
Owen is the son of Desmond Skeete, s native of Kingston, Jamaica. Desmond was not a runner but played soccer in Kingston. He gave up the booter activity at the age of 16 when he and his family moved to Brooklyn. However, he stayed with sports as a spectator watching a soccer and more and more of track as the years progressed.
Every time Owen enters into a meet, his father would give him pointers and advice for his race. Desmond is a welder, by trade.
Every time Owens steps on to a track or harrier course, rival athletes must watch out for him.
“I’ve never seen as many people run like he does and he does it really well,” said Panetta. “He’s a great runner.”
When Skeete goes out there, he feels very confident and comfortable in trying to win, whether it’s in cross country or track.
“At the two mile mark I knew I had ‘it’ there,” he said about the Nassau County championships last week. “It felt great in winning.
“In my sophomore year I started to ‘take it out’ but at the same time I knew that it was the wrong way to run. But I felt good….”
He continued on that way for the duration of his high school career, and will keep it up during the winter, as well.
Going out fast seems to be Skeete’s style of running. The coaches both his, Donald Ross, and the opponents, have gotten used to it.
“Skeete uses the same style of running like he did last season for track,” Ross said. “I spoke to him about it.. I can’t change his style. And that’s how he wants to run.”
So far it has paid off and the results show it
“He gets out strong and likes to run hard,” said Ross continued. “He trained very hard last week. He did so much work. It was pathetic. We didn’t need to train at Bethpage. Our course (near the school) is much harder than this one (Bethpage).
“He is physically capable of doing any thing that he wants. This is his last year. He ran an excellent race. He did exactly what he trained to do. That’s what he wanted to do and he did a great job. I couldn’t ask for any more than he’s been doing.”
The 5’7” Skeete only lost once this year and that came in the conference meet, a week prior to the County meet.
“It feels great and I want to prove to myself with other top runners (in the upcoming meet),” added Skeete, who has been involved in cross country for three years. “My goal is to try to make the Nationals.”