In both hurdle races in track and field, a runner must clear 10 hurdles to complete each race. The shorter race, the 110-meter hurdles, and the longer 400 may seem quite similar.
As Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Luis Cintron knows, conquering both races presents a unique challenge.
“There’s a big difference,” he said in describing the two races. “The 400 is a lot of momentum, your steps and everything. But in the 110 it’s all about your steps and speed.”
As a four-year varsity runner for the Monarchs, Cintron has developed into the team’s go-to runner in both events. In a dual meet against The Ross School Monday at Mercy High School, Cintron won both events, helping lead the team to its first victory of the spring season, 91-29.
Cintron also won the long jump and ran the opening leg of the winning 4 x 100 relay to make him a quadruple winner on a chilly, overcast afternoon.
Cintron’s versatility is key for a small team like Mercy, where athletes need to compete in multiple events for the team to have a chance. It’s in the hurdle events where he’s shined brightest and where he has his sights set on possibly reaching the state championship later this year.
“I’m trying to head upstate, get a 57 [second time] in the 400 and take it from there,” he said.
The 400 has been his top event. So far this season his best time has him 10th overall in Suffolk County. He ran 1 minute .24 seconds recently for his top time of the year. On Monday he ran at an easier pace to finish in 1:05.
“I treated today as a relaxing meet,” he said. “I didn’t want to hurt myself. I have a bigger season ahead of me.”
While it’s still early in the season, Cintron currently has the fastest 400-hurdle time among Division III runners. The spring track season is split into three divisions. Rocky Point is the largest of the D-III schools.
Cintron’s top 110-hurdle time of the season, 16.24, has him 14th in the county. He’s fifth among D-III runners in that event.
Cintron described running the 110 as needing a “one-point focus.”
“You don’t want to lose your speed, your steps, your form,” he said. “It’s one kind of flow.”
The 400, one lap around the track, allows for a bit more breathing room, which Cintron prefers.
“I’m not a one-point focus kind of guy,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been trying to do 110s lately, but having some difficulties with it.”
Cintron, who plans to run at Merrimack College next year, ran 19 seconds in Monday’s race against Ross. In the long jump his top mark was 18 feet 9 inches.
Cintron was one of several Mercy winners in the dual meet. Sophomore Dale Kelly has been a bright spot this season and he was a winner in the 400-dash in :53.9. Sophomore Alex Fabrizio was a double-winner in the 100 (11.9) and 200 (24.3).
Senior Matt Abazis won the 800 in 2:12.4.
The Mercy girls also competed against Ross Monday at the same time as the boys. The girls easily won, although the meet was technically a scrimmage, according to coach Colin Zeffer.
The Mercy girls opened their season with a dual-meet loss to Southampton, which may end their run of five straight league titles. Mercy is now 2-1 in League VIII.
The Monarchs will compete in their first invitational Saturday at Sachem North in the Suffolk Coaches Invitational. The meet will provide an early barometer as to where some of the girls stand.
“At the invitationals we’ll focus on running fast times,” Zeffer said. “We won’t have girls running multiple events. They’ll have one event to focus on for the most part. Some of the sprinters will go like 100, 200.”
Meg Tuthill was a double winner Monday in the 400-hurdles (1:15.9) and 3,000 (11.41). Danisha Carter won both sprints, the 100 (13.8) and 200 (27.4).
Delina Auciello won the 1,500 (5:51) and 800 (2:43.6).
“I think everyone in all the running events, we have a decent group of girls who can score consistently,” Zeffer said.